Tuesday, June 05, 2007



The anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy's death comes at a dark moment of intense political polarization, in a nation roiled by an unpopular war characterized by official deceit. Many of Robert Kennedy's words on Vietnam could be dropped into the newspaper today and they would be just as relevant.

It is a time of violence in word and deed. It is a time mortal peril for this country and its institutions, the country and the institutions of which he had a deep knowledge, for which he had a deep commitment. It is a time of mortal peril for the world and its life. His son and namesake knows this--Robert Kennedy, Jr. has been and remains one of our greatest champions of our environment.1968 was a time of political upheaval as well.

In this election year it is well to remember that the revered RFK, if he were a politican today, would be criticized and castigated from one end of the political spectrum to the other, and all over the Internet. He would be charged today, as he was charged then, with opportunism, cynical and self-centered politics, and trading on his name and wealthy family.

Kennedy was himself a polarizing figure, although his words were of reconcilation. That in part was what made him polarizing. His positions on various issues did not satisfy the templates of the left or right. Yet he was the only white politician who had the passionate support and love of many blacks. He was the only political leader who spent time on Indian reservations and tiny Inuit villages as well as southern rural and white West Virgina mountain shanty towns.He inspired passions for and passions against. People wanted to touch him, and he needed to touch others--he seemed to learn through touch. He learned through children, extending the feelings of a father to compassion for all children.

No comments: