This editor lectured on Wednesday evening, Aug. 23, at the National Press Club about solutions to the controversial problem of an estimated 700 Confederate statues and other memorials around the nation that are becoming increasingly divisive in the wake of the fatal white nationalist rallies earlier this month in Charlottesville, VA.

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Updated: In the talk before the McClendon Group at the Club, I recommended that monuments in general Confederate monuments that could be construed as taxpayer-supported endorsement of rebellion and slavery be moved from public property unless common sense economic, historical or other reasonable factors dictated otherwise.

Also, I described the existing monuments, estimated recently by USA Today as numbering more than 700 in 31 states, as part of pattern in all countries whereby "history" is inevitably intertwined with advocacy, propaganda, and suppressed history. Thus, the issue of Confederate monuments could find parallels in many other situations, such as Union monuments, and real or potential monuments to federal troops fighting Native Americans, or conversely memorials to Native American leaders such as Geronimo who fought troops or even settlers.

For larger context, I noted the continuing relevance of such political philosophers as Friedrich Nietzsche, whose monograph The Use and Abuse of History was published in 1874 in the wake of Bismarck's victory for an emerging Germany over France. The copy was my own well-thumbed and annotated version from my time as a history student at Cornell University in the 1960s, where I covered also as a student newspaper reporter a major confrontation between armed black students and white counter-protesters.

As described by historian Julian Kraft, Nietzsche (1844-1900) challenged those who regarded history as a primarily as a logical process, whereas pointed out that moral, emotional, and patriotic factors are in play also.

Ironically, I noted, that the courageous scholar Walter Kaufman had rescued Nietzsche's learning and reputation from oblivion after showing that he was not really a precursor for Nazi and Hitler-style advocacy, as widely thought in the 1950s and 1960s, but instead had an enduring message relevant for such contemporary issues as the Confederate monuments.

The Trump Firestorm       

As background, President Trump created a firestorm when he equated white nationalists rallying in Charlottesville, Virginia, with counter-protesters and opined that there were some "very fine people" among the whites at the rally.

Some critics described his remarks as a tipping point for his presidency, particularly after business, arts, and military leaders joined with more familiar critics of his administration in distancing themselves from his views.

djt economist cover aug 19 2017Following three deaths related to the rally, I published for the Justice Integrity Project a column, Words Fail But One Still Must Speak Out, that urged Americans to get off the fence regarding underlying issues. The column also provides a comprehensive overview of commentary from others at mainstream and alternative outlets regarding the issues.

Proposed solutions for the divisive issue of Confederate statues and other memorabilia have provoked passions and nationwide headlines (as indicated above by the covers of New York Daily News and Economist magazine) because the perceived conflict between racism and reverence for the past, augmented by partisan politics.

Omissions in standard mainstream reporting on the topic carries special local importance because of northern Virginia's locale as an operations center for white nationalists. Those white supremacists include the murdered American Nazi leader George Lincoln Rockwell in the 1950s and "Alt Right" creator Richard Spencer today.

I concluded with a historically important "false flag" racial incident from my years at college, revealed in my 2015 column Let's Question All Propaganda: Left, Right and Center, and the positive lessons for today.

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charlottesville torchlight parade 8 12 2017

White supremacists, neo-Nazis, Alt-right hate-mongers and their allies paraded in a torchlight march in Charlottesville, VA

As the U.S. strongman Donald Trump disgraced himself and the nation on Aug. 15, the challenge is how to comment on the situation ― particularly when so many others have done so eloquently about what is aptly described as the worst day of his presidency.

But this is a time to draw the lines about acceptable behavior and say something even if the words may not be unique about his remarks at Trump Tower in New York City, (where the New York Daily News front paged his remarks on Aug. 16 below right).

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Controversy escalated throughout the day, with the Wall Street Journal reporting Trump’s Business Councils Disband After CEOs Defect.

Powerful reactions continued in later days from both the fatal terror attack and a courageous video by Vice News correspondent Elle Reeve showing hundreds of marchers chanting bigoted slogans.

In an interview Aug. 16, Vice News’ Elle Reeve Confirms There Were No ‘Very Fine People’ Among White Supremacists, Reeve told CNN anchor Anderson Cooper (shown at left) that her reporting showed that the marchers were organized and did not include the kind of "fine people" Trump had claimed.

On Aug. 15, Trump had wandered off topic from transportation infrastructure to defend the "good people" attending a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, as widely reported (with excerpts below from news accounts of the past few days).

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The tragedy resulted in the deaths of a counter-protester and two state police officers, and many non-fatal injuries among counter-demonstrators. In stark contrast to Trump's words casting in effect equal blame on white nationalists and counter-protesters, a video by Vice taken last Friday showed hundreds of ultra-right marchers chanting hate slogans in a torchlight march (as portrayed in a still photo above). 

Trump's actions revealed also much about him and America's other thought leaders familiar to news audiences. Several of them, including such experienced commentators as U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and CNN pundit Van Jones, appeared to choke up with cracked voices and sorrow as they described the impact on the country of Trump's violation of decency norms.

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Long-suppressed documents released last week about the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas show that the city's mayor at the time had a covert relationship with the CIA.

Earle Cabell, Dallas mayor and congressmanDocuments showing the CIA status of the late Dallas Mayor Earle Cabell (shown at left) were among the 3,810 released by the National Archives on July 24 as it approaches its deadline of Oct. 26 to release the final batch of government documents pertaining to Kennedy's assassination.

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As mayor, Cabell and his team would have helped plan, among other things, the bizarre parade route (marked in red on the adjoining chart) that brought the president's limousine to a crawl at a sharp and seemingly unnecessary turn as it entered the kill zone at Dealey Plaza (marked in green).

Cabell, who went on to election as the region's congressman during the rest of the 1960s, was already known to be a younger brother of former CIA Deputy Director Charles Cabell, a general whom Kennedy had forced out in a purge of the top three CIA leaders in late 1961 after the disastrous, CIA-orchestrated Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba that spring.

The July 24 document release — with overviews here from the National Archives, National Archives Begins Online Release of JFK Assassination Records and here Released JFK Documents) — is prompting a flare-up of serious disputes within JFK research circles.

As usual, it's between critics of official accounts and those establishment media and academics who endorse the government's view that ex-Marine Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone (as determined the FBI and Warren Committee), or nearly alone (as later found by congressional investigators in 1979), to kill JFK because of Oswald's allegedly troubled past and Marxist sympathies.

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Many critics cite the now-extensive evidence that Oswald was a low-level undercover military, law enforcement and intelligence asset whose superiors manipulated him into suspicious actions.

In this view, Oswald served as a fall-guy or patsy for a high-level conspiracy by rogue officials within the CIA and elsewhere to murder the president and use their allies in law enforcement, courts, Congress, academia and the media to cover-up how the crime unfolded. Oswald was murdered by mob figure Jack Ruby in a Dallas police station (as shown in an iconic photo at right) two days after the assassination. Oswald had  desperately proclaimed his innocence, including a shouted comment to reporters "I'm just a patsy!"

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The famed forensic pathologist, author, consultant, and medical school professor Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D. released the following statement in conjunction with a petition by Sirhan Sirhan this week to the Organization of American States (OAS) seeking a new trial or evidentiary hearing on charges that Sirhan acted alone and fired the fatal shot killed U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.

Dr. Cyril WechtDr. Wecht, shown at left in his lab, referenced the news conference July 20 at the National Press Club here featuring Dr. William F. Pepper, attorney for the imprisoned Sirhan. A jury convicted Sirhan in 1969 of fatally shooting Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy the previous year.

Pepper, a friend of the late senator, argued in the petition to the Inter-American Human Rights Council (IACHR), a unit of the OAS, that Sirhan failed to receive effective assistance of counsel.

The petition, which can be read here, argues that Sirhan's original attorney was conflicted because of a secret felony indictment against him regarding another case and should have defended Sirhan (shown last year in a California prisons photo) by challenging the government's evidence on many scientific, eyewitness and other grounds. A video of the 75-minute news conference is here.

Sirhan's current attorney concedes that his client, now 74 and last year rejected for parole for the 15th time, fired shots at RFK from the senator's front but says Sirhan did so only because he had been brainwashed by others to serve as an unwitting patsy while the real killer shot RFK from behind at close range and escaped.

Dr. Wecht's statement supports that argument as follows:

I strongly endorse and support the petition that Attorney William Pepper is submitting to the Organization of American States seeking a new trial for Sirhan Sirhan, who was convicted for the 1968 killing of Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

As an official consultant in forensic pathology to Dr. Thomas Noguchi [shown at left], the Los Angeles Chief Medical Examiner who performed the autopsy on Senator Kennedy, I had the opportunity to visit the shooting scene at the Ambassador Hotel and subsequently review and analyze all the relevant forensic scientific evidence and investigative findings in this matter.

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Historic petition to OAS seeks retrial or hearing

Famed attorney, noted author, and human rights advocate Dr. William F. Pepper announced July 17 that he is filing a petition to the Organization of American States (OAS) seeking justice for his imprisoned client Sirhan B. Sirhan.

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The filing describes Sirhan (shown upon his arrest) as wrongfully convicted of the 1968 assassination of Pepper’s friend, Robert F. Kennedy, the late New York U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate. Pepper presents his evidence and arguments at a 10 a.m. news conference on July 20 at the National Press Club, located at 529 14th St., NW, Washington, DC.

Seeking a new trial for Sirhan or an evidentiary hearing, Pepper’s petition against the U.S. government is being filed on July 19, 2017 with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an OAS body. The filing alleges that the California and U.S. justice systems violated Sirhan's right to a fair trial, as required under the OAS Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. By treaty, the IACHR may review U.S. cases and those from 34 other nations when domestic remedies have been exhausted.

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“Among the many abuses that I have discovered,” said Pepper, “the petition describes how Sirhan’s late defense counsel, Grant Cooper, was compromised by a secretly pending felony indictment. It posed a major conflict that deprived Sirhan of effective counsel. Cooper conducted no independent investigation. He explicitly accepted his client's guilt and the state's case without real challenge.”

“According to many witnesses," Pepper continued, "additional shots were fired by a second assailant during the attack on June 5, 1968 after Kennedy won California’s Democratic primary for that year’s presidential race.”

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Dr. William F. Pepper, the famed human rights lawyer, author, and attorney who has defended post-conviction the accused killers of his friends Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will speak July 19 at the National Press Club about the central responsibility of news organizations to report the news fairly and without self-censorship.

william pepper mlkPepper, shown with King in a 1967 photo, will describe how the media have repeatedly failed to inform the public of the ongoing injustice in the Sirhan case, among other such politically charged prosecutions. Without a free, independent press, Pepper says, "the rule of law and an informed public cannot function" in a democratic society.

Pepper is filing a 200-page petition this week to the Organization of American States (OAS) accusing the California and U.S. governments of violating the due process rights of accused Kennedy killer Sirhan Sirhan, who is shown in a California prison system photo after being held without parole since RFK's killing on June 5, 1968.

Sirhan SirhanPepper is delivering a 7 p.m. lecture to the Sarah McClendon speaker society located at the club for more than a quarter of a century. The society is named after McClendon, a pioneering female White House correspondent from Texas who died in 2003 after a long career.

Pepper's lecture and a book signing are open to the press and public. The talk is preceded by an optional no-host, Dutch-treat dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the club, which is located at 529 14th St., NW near the corner of F Street in downtown Washington, DC.  

James Earl Ray 1955 prison

Pepper is an American lawyer and English barrister. A 1960s friend of Kennedy and King, he came to believe after long study that their accused killers were patsies who were wrongly accused for political reasons. In 1999, he won a civil judgment on behalf of the King family with a jury finding that convicted killer James Earl Ray (shown in a mug shot) was not the real killer. That news was so little reported that it was as if it were suppressed, critics say.

On July 19 before his talk, he plans to file a petition to the Organization of American States (OAS) seeking justice for his imprisoned client Sirhan. The filing describes Sirhan as wrongfully convicted of the 1968 assassination of Kennedy, the late New York U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate. 


Seeking a new trial for Sirhan or an evidentiary hearing, Pepper's petition against the U.S. government is being filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an OAS body. The filing alleges that the California and U.S. justice systems violated Sirhan's right to a fair trial, as required under the OAS Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.

By treaty, the IACHR may review U.S. cases and those from 34 other nations when domestic remedies have been exhausted.

The Justice Integrity Project arranged details of Pepper's visit from his New York City office to the nation's capital. We shall publish more during coming days about his press club lecture, petition to the OAS, and new evidence.

In the meantime, our Readers Guide To RFK Assassination: Books, Videos, Archives provides a comprehensive listing of major books, films, and research archives representing all major points of view on the Robert Kennedy assassination, plus avenues for further research. It is excerpted below. Additional information is welcome.

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