American myths debunked

Jonathan Wences

Jonathan Wences

By Billy Dennis, Opinion Columnist

The Kennedy assassination
Theory: All of the various conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy have one thing in common — Lee Harvey Oswald was not the lone gunman. Most consider Oswald to have been a patsy set up by the U.S. government. The collaborators include, but are not limited to, the CIA, FBI, Secret Service and Dallas Police Department. They also say the “kill shot” came from the grassy knoll in front of the motorcade, as opposed to the Texas School Book Depository.

Evidence: The physical and circumstantial evidence points directly at Oswald firing all three shots. All rounds recovered were from a Carcano 6.5 mm rifle owned by Oswald. The coroner’s report said all wounds on the bodies of Kennedy andGov. John Connolly were consistent with rounds coming from the rear and at an angle consistent with the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository.

History professor Mike Noble’s take: “I don’t agree with everything the U.S. government does, but we do not kill U.S. presidents. The conspiracy theorists discount the 99 things that say Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman and focus on the one thing that’s cloudy.”

9/11 was an inside job
Theory: The airplanes that crashed into the towers would not have been enough to bring down the World Trade Center. Rather, they were destroyed by a controlled explosion orchestrated by elements within the Bush administration and the upper echelons of the U.S. government. Conspiracy theorists also believe the terrorists were scapegoats used by the government to lead the nation into war.

Evidence: All evidence points to the airplanes causing the collapse of the World Trade Center. The two planes were large and carried a full load of fuel. Experts say the planes weakened the buildings, but it was the massive amount of burning jet fuel that weakened the steel to the point where the floors pancaked onto one another, bringing down both buildings. The terrorists involved in the attacks all had ties to Al-Qaeda, and nothing suggests the U.S. government was involved.

Government professor  Cindy Castañeda’s take: “While I think it is always prudent to keep a close eye on government activities to ensure that Americans’ civil rights are not violated as they have been in the past, such as in the interments of Japanese Americans during WWII, it is unthinkable that our government would be behind this tragic event in our history. This theory is ridiculous.”

The moon landing was faked
Theory: Conspiracy theorists say the moon landing was actually shot inside a movie studio in Hollywood. They point to the absence of stars in the dark sky and the flag planted on the moon appears to be blowing in the wind, even though there is no wind on the moon.

Evidence: There is overwhelming evidence that Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969. There were tens of thousands who saw the rocket take off from the launch pad. No stars were visible in the pictures because they were taken during the day. The sky is dark because there is no atmosphere to refract light. The flag appears to be blowing in the wind because it had an internal support structure to make it visible in photos.

History professor Matt Hinckley’s take: “How many people working for NASA, working in Congress, working for government contractors … would have to be paid off to keep quiet all these years? You’re talking billions, if not trillions, of dollars. All the effort it would take to maintain that level of conspiracy — you might as well just land a man on the moon.”

Obama’s fake birth certificate
Theory: Theorists claim that President Barack Obama’s birth certificate was faked or doctored to allow him to run for president. They say in 1961 African-Americans were called “Negros” and not African-Americans, and the birth certificate says Obama’s father was born in Kenya, East Africa, a country that didn’t exist until 1963. They also claim the birth certificate has the wrong name of the hospital where he was born because KapiolaniMaternity & Gynecological Hospital didn’t exist in 1961.

Evidence: All of the evidence refutes the claims made by the theorist. In fact, nowhere on the birth certificate does the term “African-American” appear. This is place for race of father that simply says African. TheKapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital where President Obama was born retained that name from 1931-1971. There simply is no evidence to suggest that the birth certificate has been “doctored” in any way.

Government professor Cindy Castañeda’s take: “This theory was given some steam by President Obama’s reluctance to release his long-form birth certificate. But even when he did release it, the ‘birthers’ refused to believe it. Which just goes to show, that even in the face of evidence, ignorance can prevail.”

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