Matthews on Oswald’s ‘crime of opportunity’


I’m glad we could discuss tonight this new photographic evidence from the Kennedy assassination.

I think I understand why people are so open to the possibility that Lee Harvey Oswald was not the president’s lone killer. It’s hard to imagine such a small person being responsible for the loss of such a beloved, important, big one. 

We’ve been taught through years of Shakespeare and lesser dramas to expect a serious villain as the match for our heroes.  Othello had Iago.  Sherlock Holmes had Dr. Moriarty.  The Lone Ranger had the Cavendish Gang.  Batman had Lex Luther.  I could go on.  The good guy has to have a bad guy with brains and some grand megalomaniac vision, a grand scheme to take over the world or whatever.  He has to be a mastermind, a fiend worthy of our contempt.

Lee Harvey Oswald, back from and disillusioned with his belief in Soviet Russia, infatuated with Castro, just doesn’t live up to our grand notions of evil. 

So people look for some grand explanation, “grand” being the key word. We want to know that we were right, that Kennedy was great, and only a great force of evil could take him from us.

A half century later, the evidence turns to something small, something dull and banal.  A little loser got himself a gun and saw his opportunity to become someone important, someone who killed a person so many people loved.  I’ve always thought, long before this new evidence came to us, that the most impenetrable obstacle to all the conspiracy theories is that Oswald had that job at the Texas Book Depository long before the president’s travel route was set.  He was in that spot before there was any reason to believe the president would be passing right there below him. 

It was, I believe, a crime of opportunity.  A small man, with a political hatred got himself a rifle, and took the training he’d gotten in the military to shoot down the most beloved president of my lifetime. 

We remember, those of us from that time, where we were when we heard.  Many of us, at least in heart, mind and soul, are still there.

We have never gotten over it.  And that, more than anything, is why we have such a hard time accepting that an event so simple, banal, horrible actually happened.

John F. Kennedy

Matthews on Oswald's 'crime of opportunity'