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"Hunter of fascists, Ha Ha Ha!" is the handwritten inscription on the famous "backyard rifle" photos of Lee Harvey Oswald. In the photo, Oswald is dressed in black jeans and a black shirt, wearing a holstered Smith & Wesson .38 Victory revolver and holding the now infamous Manlicher-Carcano 6.5mm rifle, which he had received by mail order. The inscription was made by Oswald's Russian immigrant wife, Marina. The inscription was actually, "Hunter of fascists, Xa Xa Xa!" which is apparently the Russian Cyrillic convention for the Anglo "Ha!". As they were for her personal photo album, the marginalia were written first in pencil, then gone over in fountain pen.

The photos were taken in the Oswalds' backyard in Dallas, Texas. Mariana used Lee's cheapo Imperial Reflex medium format camera to shoot two frames of black and white film, in April of 1963 (this according to the House Select Committee on Assassinations). These pictures were taken before he worked at the Texas School Book Depository, or made the attempt on General Walker's life. It gives the impression that, like our own Timothy McVeigh, Oswald was a man in search of a personal mission.

There's been a great deal of speculation that the photos were manipulated somehow. Oswald himself claimed that he never posed for the photos, and that his face was superimposed over the figure as part of a frame-up. Some say that the chin is too broad, or that the shadows don't match up.

I think it's a reach. I think Oswald was obsessed with making his mark in the great class struggle (or his confused interpretation of it). George De Mohrenschildt, a Russian expat in the Dallas area, reported to the Warren Commission that LHO had shown him the photo after his attempted assassination of General Edwin Walker. Marina was poking fun at her windbag husband. Funny to see that piece of domestic sarcasm played out against the larger backdrop of history.

Of course, Oswald was more than just an armchair commando.

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