Saturday, October 11, 2008

October 25, 1963: Anti-Kennedy "Wanted for Treason" Pamphlets in Dallas

A few weeks before President John Kennedy arrived in Dallas, Texas on that fateful November day, "Wanted For Treason" handbills started popping up around town. News reporters Ed Cocke and Harry McCormick brought examples to work on Thursday morning. The fliers depicted the president in full face and profile, as in a mug shot. "This man," they read, "is wanted for treasonous activities against the United States."

Among JFK's alleged crimes: "betraying the Constitution (which he swore to uphold)"; giving "support and encouragement to the Communist inspired racial riots"; and telling "fantastic LIES to the American people (including personal ones like his previous marriage [sic] and divorce)."

On Thursday afternoon, city editor Johnny King assigned me to track the pamphlets to their source and to discover, if possible, whether similar venom might be spewing forth the next day during the president's visit.

Harry McCormick, an old pro who'd once been kidnapped by Bonnie and Clyde's gang, suggested I look for leads in the paper's coverage of a "National Indignation Convention" (NIC) held in Dallas a few weeks earlier, where NIC delegates bitterly scorned Kennedy for allowing Yugoslavian pilots to train at Perrin Air Force Base in Sherman, about 75 miles north of Dallas.

McCormick's idea paid off. I located an NIC organizer who put me in touch with those who'd printed the "Wanted For Treason" posters.

"We're going to show Kennedy what we think of him," one of them said on the telephone. I reminded him that after UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson's recent adversity in Dallas, the city council had passed a resolution making it a misdemeanor to curse or shout obscenities during a public event.

"Oh, we're not going to shout at him," the caller assured me. "In fact, we're going to have our mouths covered with tape so there's no possibility of such behavior. We're going to be law-abiding. We don't want to harm anyone. We just want Americans to wake up to what's happening in our country."

He closed, "Oh, by the way, you'll be able to recognize us easily. We're going to be wearing Uncle Sam suits."

Johnny King decided not to print what I'd learned. "No laws broken apparently," he said. "One might argue that they violated the laws of good taste [with the pamphlets], but I doubt anyone will care about that. Let's not make them heroes by writing about them."

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