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Extremists Charged with Exploiting JFK Assassination

Jan. 31, 1964 - The nation’s extremists — both right and left — were accused today of exploiting President Kennedy’s assassination for a “pattern of hate.” Such extremism “presents a clear and present danger because it tears at the democratic fabric of our republic,” declared a fact-finding committee of the civil rights division of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. The committee’s findings were based on observations of public meetings and the monitoring of publications. A 4,000-word report was submitted to the league’s national commission at the Savoy Hotel by Dore Schary, league chairman.

The report said opinion surveys indicated that a majority of Americans believed the slayings of the President and his alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, “were the result of organized plotting,” rather than individual actions. This, the report said, “can be attributed to two causes: the psychological need to believe in meaning and design rather than absurdity and anarchy, and the influence of various extreme groups, left and right, which for years have been preaching the existence of plots and conspiracies in U.S. life — for their own dedicated purposes.”

Analyzing extremist reports the league said “one of the most bizarre” had been printed Jan. 9 by The Los Angeles Herald-Dispatch, a Negro weekly. The league quoted Waldo Phillips as writing that Mr. Kennedy was “shot at his own request” and that “medical reports had indicated that he had less than 90 days to live due to an intensified terminal malign spinal cancer.”

Right-wing extremism, the league said, included Gerald K. Smith’s contention that Mr. Kennedy was killed by a Communist because he was “preparing to double-cross the Muscovites and move to the right.” Common Sense, a Union, N.J., publication, was quoted as saying “Kennedy outlived his usefulness as a front for Communism and Democracy (Jews),” and as suggesting he may have been “liquidated by those who posed as his best friends.”

Abroad, the Arab press, the league said, “generally pointed out that Jack Ruby was Jewish and spoke of a ‘Zionist plot.’” The Chinese Nationalist press, the study said, contended that the Chinese Communist regime was behind the President’s murder, while in South Africa, white supremacists blamed the American Communist party.

On the extreme left, the league said, the Soviet radio quickly held that Mr. Kennedy had been killed as part of a right-wing plot. Communists on both sides of the Atlantic spoke of such a plot “tied up with the Ku Klux Klan and the Birch Society,” the league said. Mike Gold, columnist for The Worker, American Communist semi-weekly, was reported as writing, “The new President’s future depends on what he does checking the first big Fascist putsch in America. If unchecked, they will strike again.”


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