What do you think accounts for the rise of conspiracy theories that are offered as explanations for the assassinations of the great leaders of the 1960s?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The 1960s is seen as one of the most idealistic time periods in American History.  It is seen as the decade in which social justice reigned and helped to key in the decade's transformative quality.  Those who revere the time period see the promises of possibilities of what could be in the face of what was.  The rise of the counter culture, the emergence of "Camelot," and the artistic expression of the time period help to construct a vision where hope and promise was evident, flowers blooming amidst the weeds of the Status Quo.

For those who embrace such a vision, the assassinations of the great leaders of the time period were instances where these weeds choked the life out of the flowers of hope.  The deaths of JFK, Malcolm X, Dr. King, and RFK were all seen as moments where hope, itself, perished.  The rise of conspiracy theories about these deaths could come from this point.  Those who advocate conspiracy theories in the deaths of these individuals suggest that there was an ulterior motive to their killings.  Since the particular leader embraced the change and fluidity of the time period, the thinking is that they threatened those in the position of power with their clarion calls for change.  The emergence of conspiracy theories comes from this point.  The thinking here is that there had to have been a conspiracy in the killing of the individual because of the threat they posed to the proverbial "system."  This belief arises from the idea that the part what made the leaders of the decade so "great" is their willingness to challenge the temporal thinking in order to embrace something more transformational and more transcendental.

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