Historians go to great lengths-as they should-to find out the truth of what took place hundreds of years ago, even thousands of years ago. So isn’t it ironic-and deeply troubling-that the truth of the official version of some of the recent events of great historical importance is widely doubted and increasingly contested.
If such events had taken place in some authoritarian country known for routine quashing of truth, presentation of only official viewpoints and clampdown on free expression and media, then of course one would not be too surprised. But the fact that this continues to take place time and again in countries which take pride in their flourishing democracy must certainly be worrying.
While examples from the recent history (say the post Second World War) of several countries can be given in this context, perhaps the ones from the USA are the most revealing, given the fact that this is supposed to be the country with the most celebrated, richly resourced media and academic institutions as well as firmly, constitutionally established conditions of free expression and debate.
Given such conditions, isn’t it very surprising that the death of three of the most celebrated and internationally renowned, the most widely praised and appreciated leaders of the USA has remained clouded in too many controversies for five to six decades, with simply too many holes being discovered and pointed out in official versions.
There were some commonalities among all three great leaders. All three were on the path of peace and justice. All three were assassinated in highly suspicious and troubling circumstances which raised a lot of questions then, which raise a lot of questions now.
The reference here is of course to the highly tragic assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy Sr. and the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King during the 1960s.
Millions of words have been written on these assassinations so it would not be very helpful to repeat here all the glaring flaws in the official versions that have emerged from time to time. Suffice it to say that when there are very solid and significant grounds for doubting the official versions and even the reports of the official inquiries start appearing more like cover-ups rather than real investigations aimed at bringing out the truth, then it is time for some more independent broad-based efforts to bring out and establish the truth on a more firm basis.
A book or a film along these lines is certainly a way forward but several great, invaluable efforts of this kind have not helped to clinch the issues in a decisive way. What can perhaps have better success is to form an independent, non-official committee of some of the most highly credible, capable, senior scholars and investigators of great integrity. This committee should examine all the available evidence. It should speak to those who have done significant work on this issue. Where necessary it can also order its own new investigation and involve high-level experts in this. The committee’s work should take place in conditions of great transparency. However its work should be completed and its report presented within a year or so (this is to avoid such work dragging on indefinitely). There should be safeguards to avoid delays.
Why take all the trouble? Because these three assassinations taken together were the biggest blow to the possibilities of the USA choosing a path of peace, justice and democracy. So the country should know the truth of who sought to blow up the choices in favor of peace, justice and genuine democracy, and why. If the truth is known, then the country will be helped greatly in getting back to the path of justice, peace and genuine democracy. It is as important as that.
The same can also be said regarding the horrible, extremely tragic 9/11 attacks. Highly disturbing questions have been raised in this context too. Answering these questions properly after examining all the relevant evidence is of the greatest importance for peace, justice and democracy. The investigation of these issues by the kind of high-credibility committee suggested in the context of the three tragic assassinations above will go a long way in clearing the various controversies and enabling people to have a proper understanding of the highly tragic events of 9/11.
Such efforts to clear the fog and reach the truth of important recent events of historical importance can fulfill a very useful democratic role in many countries.
The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children, Man over Machine and A Day in 2071.