10 Conspiracy Theories About the JFK Assassination

Right-wing Extremists
Jack Ruby shoots Lee Harvey Oswald as he is escorted from Dallas police headquarters. © Bettmann/CORBIS

If you think that American society is politically polarized to a scary extreme today, here's a news flash: Things were bitterly partisan back in 1963, too. Dallas, in particular, was a seething hotbed of right-wing extremists, who tended to view JFK as a Communist sympathizer or worse.

On Nov. 22, The Dallas Morning News greeted JFK with a full-page advertisement, placed by the local branch of the far-right John Birch Society and paid for by Texas oilmen, that accused him of abandoning the Monroe Doctrine in favor of "the spirit of Moscow" [source: Parks]. It's no wonder, then, that many suspect that Dallas right-wingers had something to do with JFK's murder, even though Oswald was a self-proclaimed Marxist.

To muddle things even further, in 1967 New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison accused local businessman Clay Shaw of being involved in a conspiracy with a shadowy group of right-wingers to assassinate JFK (a premise that helped to inspire the 1991 movie of the same name). Shaw's acquittal after just one hour of jury deliberation didn't kill this meme [source: Times Picayune].