I have few enduring memories from my West Coast childhood. I was not a bright child. I graduated High School in Contra Costa having written one paper: a one page response to a film written in pencil. As Vonnegut said, “So it goes.”
But one indelible memory was June 6, 1968 when I awoke – at age 12 – in our Eichler in Palo Alto California and I trotted into the family room to watch my favorite Spiderman cartoon but was instead confronted with the news that Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated at midnight the night before in Los Angelas.
I was confused.
I was six years old and in the second grade when his brother was assassinated in Dallas.
I went to my parent’s bedroom and knocked. I do not think I had ever done that before but my Dad said I could come in. I was always a shy kid. I sat near him and told him what had happened and he got up and sat next to me and wept hard.
Only years later would I realize that a part of America died that day with Bobby.
My father had a tremendous sense of justice and the need for equality. I know that the reason he forgot to console me that day was because his personal grief was insurmountable. He had gone to sleep with such hope…as so many in America had…only to have it snatched away with an assassin’s bullets.
Next it was 1969 and the “Summer of Love” (which was all hype by the way – months later all the styles were at Macy’s at Sun Valley in Concord…wise up people.)
Personally, it is my best guess that it was then that “Old School” Liberalism that really had a moral center died. You can argue (and it might hold) that James Earl Carter retained some of that. But since then – this new brand on Neo-Liberalism is toxic and bought-off and has no moral center at all.
Bobby Kennedy had an amazing capacity to reverse field – then hit hard for justice. Originally a part of Joe McCarthy’s team, he took issue and went elsewhere. On Civil Rights he was – at first a tad slow (by our reckoning…geez ) but massively aggressive once he was convinced.
Review his legacy for yourselves as we move into new waters.
What do you really want with your freedoms? And what does “justice” mean to you?