The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Alienated and Angry and Arrogant

Posted on | July 26, 2012 | 25 Comments

We have recently been presented with the puzzle of James Holmes, who has been arrested for the massacre that killed 12 people and wounded dozens more at a Colorado movie theatre. You have to shake your head in dismay at reading stories like this:

Holmes was awarded a prestigious grant from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. . . .
It gave the graduate student a $26,000 stipend and paid his tuition for the highly competitive neuroscience program at the University of Colorado in Denver. Holmes was one of six neuroscience students at the school to get the grant money.

Then there was the report that Holmes had sent a package to a psychiatry professor detailing his mass-murder plans. At some point, we’ll get the full background on how Holmes went from being a promising science student to being a cold-blooded killer.

Tonight, however, I’m thinking about Lee Harvey Oswald.

A few days ago, I explained my idea for a book about the 15 years in American history from 1948 to 1963, from the re-election of Harry Truman to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This idea was inspired, as I said, by Robert Bork’s observation that the radical uprising of the 1960s could not have succeeded as swiftly and easily as it did, if the Establishment had not “already been eaten hollow” by liberal beliefs.

Well, what about Lee Harvey Oswald? Wouldn’t Oswald’s life during this era provide some interesting episodes for the narrative history I have in mind? So I went to Amazon and found a 1978 book, Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald, by Edward Jay Epstein.

In 1948, when he was nine years old, Oswald’s mother divorced his stepfather, a divorce that had the effect of drasttically lowering the family’s socio-economic status. By the time he was 15, Oswald became an avowed Marxist, and at age 20 defected to the Soviet Union.

This was a rather extreme manifestation of alienation. What happened? Oswald later said that he became attracted to Marxism after he was handed a Communist Party pamphlet by a woman protesting the execution of Soviet spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The Rosenbergs were executed in 1953, and Oswald was living in New York at that time, so this seems plausible.

One other interesting tidbit: Oswald’s favorite TV program was I Led Three Lives, based on the story of Herbert Philbrick, who infiltrated the Communist Party for the FBI.

While the Communists were the bad guys and the FBI agent was the good guy in the series — which aired 1953-56 — it would appear that Oswald identified with the villains.

Think about that. And consider something else: Over and over again, those who encountered Oswald described him as “arrogant.”

Oswald was intensely alienated from American society, he was very arrogant, and he identified with his nation’s Communist enemies.

Lee Harvey Oswald is, of course, just one character in a very large historical narrative of an era which preceded the eruption of Sixties radicalism, but he strikes me as a sort of symbolic harbinger.

American have become unfortunately accustomed to tragedies inflicted on innocents by angry, alienated young men. Where did it begin?



25 Responses to “Alienated and Angry and Arrogant”

  1. Taxpayer1234
    July 26th, 2012 @ 11:23 pm

    Very interesting post.  Thanks!

  2. Adjoran
    July 26th, 2012 @ 11:51 pm

    Oswald was intensely alienated from American society, he was very arrogant, and he identified with his nation’s Communist enemies.

    His stepfather wasn’t Indonesian, perchance?

  3. alanhenderson
    July 27th, 2012 @ 12:45 am

    In the famous Oswald/Ruby photo, doesn’t Oswald look a lot like Bill Murray?

    Murray’s a bit on in years for that role now. ..

  4. alanhenderson
    July 27th, 2012 @ 12:49 am

     Or maybe he was from Pottsylvania.

  5. M. Simon
    July 27th, 2012 @ 4:34 am

    The onset of schizophrenia is frequently in that age range. And schizophrenics can be very violent. Funny that a guy studying the brain didn’t recognize his own disease. If that is what it is.

    On another note:

    Why Do Conservatives Misunderstand Libertarians

  6. M. Simon
    July 27th, 2012 @ 4:42 am

    BTW there were rumors floating about that the Oswald defection was not real. The Soviets sent him back to us. And his famous “I’m a patsy.” remark might have indicated he was double crossed by an intel agency. Not uncommon in the trade. 

    Nothing is as it seems. The DEA “fights” drugs. The CIA imports them. The banks make a fortune turning black money white.

    The scam is obvious and well documented. What? You didn’t read about it in the MSM? I’m shocked.

  7. M. Simon
    July 27th, 2012 @ 4:53 am

    The tell in the Oswald case? The FBI couldn’t repeat the performance using that broken down rifle (Manlicher Carcano – IIRC) and their best marksmen. 

  8. EarlScruggs
    July 27th, 2012 @ 5:36 am

    Read about John Walker Lindh. The guys father left his mother for a man. His mother was a Buddhist. Issues?

  9. Dandapani
    July 27th, 2012 @ 6:02 am

    Kinda sounded like Obama’s situation to me also.

  10. Rich Vail
    July 27th, 2012 @ 6:10 am

    Simply put:  Give him as fair a trial as possible (under the circumstances).  If (when) he’s found guilty, take him out behind the courthouse, walk him to the gallows and hang him by the neck until he’s dead…either that, our put a bullet through the back of his skull.

  11. Bob Belvedere
    July 27th, 2012 @ 8:25 am

    I started using the nickname ‘Fearless Leader’ for Little Barry about a month after he took office.

  12. Mortimer Snerd
    July 27th, 2012 @ 9:11 am

    Axelrod reminds me of Boris Badonov.

  13. Mortimer Snerd
    July 27th, 2012 @ 9:14 am


  14. Bob Belvedere
    July 27th, 2012 @ 9:41 am

    I never thought of that but, damn, you’re quite right.

    Valerie Jarrett as ‘Natasha’???

  15. Zilla of the Resistance
    July 27th, 2012 @ 11:20 am

    When I saw the headline for this post in my blogroll, I could not help but think that this post may have referred to a certain blogger who fits the description given in the title.

  16. Zilla of the Resistance
    July 27th, 2012 @ 11:24 am

     Axelrod always looked like Hitler to me. Someone should do a “Separated at Birth?” feature with side-by-side photos. They have a similar (socialist) ideology too.

  17. Rob Crawford
    July 27th, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

    Complete falsehood. Any practiced shooter could repeat those shots — or beat them.

  18. Wombat_socho
    July 27th, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

     This is brought up in Full Metal Jacket, of all places.

  19. Dai Alanye
    July 27th, 2012 @ 12:38 pm


  20. Dai Alanye
    July 27th, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

    Read the book Stacy mentions, and you’ll stop making loopy comments.

  21. M. Simon
    July 27th, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

     Well the FBI couldn’t. You can look it up. And yes later experiments did match the Oswald performance. So they say.

    I studied the case intensively for years. Pro and con. At different times I have come down on “Oswald did it.” And other times he didn’t.

    Jack Ruby and his connection to the Marcello crime family are interesting. Marcello ran drugs. He had CIA connections. The CIA runs drugs (read McCoy on that). Or Catherine Austin Fitts. Or Mike Ruppert. Or Mike Levine. Or any number of others.  Webb did a nice series on it. Initially denounced by the CIA. But much later admitted by them.

    What is my personal opinion at this point? I don’t know who did what or what happened. 

    My guess? The Drug War has become inconvenient and they would like to shut it down and slink away. I’d let them. With malice towards none.

  22. M. Simon
    July 27th, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

     I’m as loopy as they come. I like it that way.

  23. Red
    July 27th, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

    Pardon my inner Alex Jones but does any of this ring ‘false flag’ to anybody? Shades of MKUltra?

  24. Charles
    July 27th, 2012 @ 6:22 pm

    I’ve stood in the window. It wasn’t that hard a shot. The street bends and moves directly away from the shooter, so there’s not even the difficulty of leading the target. The rest is just commie disinformation.

  25. K-Bob
    July 27th, 2012 @ 11:45 pm

    Dang. Thayrone took it off his site.  But this topic reminds me of the Best Photoshop Ever.

    Oh good, I found it here.