Forty-two years and a day ago, James Earl Ray, full of hatred, peered through his rifle scope, found his quarry standing on the balcony of a Memphis motel, squeezed the trigger, and within a split second turned Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from a Civil Rights icon into a tragic martyr.
The Lone Nut Theory---the notion that a man bent on violence can, solitarily, snuff out the life of even the greatest of men, as long as he has the proper weapon, a hiding spot, and the opportunity.
Ask 100 Americans who killed Dr. King on April 4, 1968, and all but a small handful (if that) will tell you that it was Ray who gunned down the Civil Rights leader that day.
Ask those same 100 who killed President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, and you'll have a figurative riot on your hands.
The Lone Nut Theory doesn't seem to wash when it comes to the assassination of Kennedy, no matter how much evidence is presented that Lee Harvey Oswald, and Oswald alone, killed the president.
The conspiracy theorists come out in droves for JFK's murder, but are quite content to pin the donkey's tail on Ray in Dr. King's instance.
How can it be so easily accepted---relatively speaking---that a Lone Nut seized the opportunity and killed Dr. King, but that can't be the case when it comes to Kennedy?
You can kill one man that way, but not the other?
Oswald sure had the opportunity.
Kennedy, of course, rode through downtown Dallas in an open-roofed car. And the Dallas newspapers published the president's motorcade route in the days leading up to his visit.
Neither of these things would, could, happen today. The security breach that these missteps caused was immeasurable.
Ray seized his opportunity by knowing where Dr. King was staying (the Lorraine Motel) and camping out, a Remington 760 Gamemaster in tow. When the Civil Rights leader stepped onto the second floor balcony to informally speak with supporters below, Ray fired his single, fatal shot.
No conspiracy here, even though Ray feebly attempted to conjure one up by speaking of a mysterious man named Raoul, who he supposedly met in Montreal, and who was the true "mastermind" of Dr. King's slaying. That story never grew legs, nor gained any traction.
The Lone Nut, James Earl Ray
James Earl Ray was guity as sin, plain and simple. He and he alone brokered and carried out the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. No nefarious, rogue elements involved.
That's interesting, because if there were such elements that allegedly wanted President Kennedy dead, then there had to have been almost as many who'd have liked to see Dr. King eradicated. Yet Ray is a Lone Nut, and Oswald is a patsy, in many people's eyes.
I wonder if Dr. King was white, if there'd have HAD to have been a conspiracy.
Lone Nuts can kill the black leaders, but no way could one ever off a president! Not by himself, anyway.
Regardless, two months after Dr. King's murder, Senator Robert Kennedy was gunned down in Los Angeles following a victory speech after the California Democratic presidential primary.
Sirhan Sirhan appeared guilty as sin in this instance.
Yet the conspiracy theorists, over the years, have come from the woodwork in RFK's assassination.
Time hasn't produced the same phenomena in the King murder.