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"Assassins" -related question for your consideration 
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Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2002 8:59 pm
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Location: Somewhere in New Jersey
Post "Assassins" -related question for your consideration
Hello everyone,

Since there's no separate forum for Assassins, I thought I'd throw this question out in here.

At the end of the book Manhunt about the Lincoln assassination and its aftermath, author James Swanson mentions how we almost seem to have forgiven John Wilkes Booth for his crime. We seem to view him, not as a villain, but as a kind of tragic hero--not unlike Julius Caesar's Brutus, whom he compared himself to. There are even pictures of Booth on signposts for Ford's Theater in Washington. As Swanson said in the book, you try having pictures of Lee Harvey Oswald on signposts in Dallas and see how far you'd get before the lynch mobs come after you!

So I was wondering...what is it, do you think, that makes us pity John Wilkes Booth?

My own theory comes about from seeing Assassins and reading up on the characters. Booth was certainly no less guilty than the other presidential assassins or would-be assassins. But of all of them, he was the only one who wasn't a pitiful, disenfranchised "loser". All the others had some kind of pathos about them...unbalanced housewife, obsessed movie star fan, ex-defector with no place of his own, two immigrants on the bottom rung of society, hippie cultist for a mass murderer, loser with delusions of grandeur. All were socially inept nobodies.

But Booth had it all. He was famous, incredibly rich, at the top of his profession (nope, no "bad reviews" for him) and extremely well-liked. He had a warm, generous personality and tons of friends. And he threw it all away because he sincerely believed he was striking a blow for the country he loved.

So do you think that's it...that we can pity a presidential assassin because he was on top of the world, and gave it all up for a conviction, however wrong or misguided the conviction was?

What do you think?

For out of what we live and we believe...
Our lives become the stories that we weave.
-- "Once On This Island"

Thu May 12, 2011 12:58 pm
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