Kennedy Op-ed for Washington Post


Kennedy Family Writes Anti-Trump Op-Ed In Washington Post That EVERYONE Should Read

If there is one family in America that is qualified to speak on the issue of hatred and violence, it is the Kennedys. John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in 1963 followed by Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.

Written by William Kennedy Smith and Jean Kennedy Smith

On April 4, 1968, the day the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed, Robert Kennedy was campaigning for the presidency in Indianapolis. Bobby conveyed the news of King’s death to a shattered, mostly black audience. He took pains to remind those whose first instinct may have been toward violence that President John F. Kennedy had also been shot and killed. Bobby went on, “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”

That speech has crystallized into the single most enduring portrait of Bobby’s candidacy. Because it was extemporaneous, it conveyed directly, and with raw emotion, his own vulnerability, his aspirations for his country, and a deep compassion for the suffering of others. Bobby concluded his remarks that night by urging those listening to return home and say a prayer for our country and for our people. Those words mattered. While there were riots in cities across the nation that night, Indianapolis did not burn.

Today, almost 50 years later, words still matter. They shape who we are as a people and who we wish to be as a nation. In the white-hot cauldron of a presidential campaign, it is still the words delivered extemporaneously, off the cuff, in the raw pressure of the moment that matter most. They say most directly what is in a candidate’s heart. So it was with a real sense of sadness and revulsion that we listened to Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, as he referred to the options available to “Second Amendment people,” a remark widely, and we believe correctly, interpreted as a thinly veiled reference or “joke” about the possibility of political assassination.

Political violence is a terrible inherent risk to any free society. Dictators and strongmen like Vladimir Putin have an answer. They are surrounded and shielded by force at all times. They do not brook dissent. In democracies, we expect our leaders to be accessible and, by and large, they want to be. Inevitably, that makes them vulnerable and the loss of a leader at a crucial time impacts family, country, and even the world, for generations. Anyone who loves politics, the open competition of ideas and public participation in a free society, knows that political violence is the greatest of all civic sins. It is not to be encouraged. It is not funny. It is not a joke.

By now, we have heard enough dark and offensive rhetoric from Trump to know that it reflects something fundamentally troubled, and troubling, about his candidacy. Trump’s remarks frequently, if not inevitably, spark outrage, which is followed by a clarification that, in lieu of an apology, seeks to attribute the dark undertones of his words to the listener’s twisted psyche. This fools no one. Whether you like what he is saying or, like a growing segment of the electorate, you reject it, it is easy to grasp Trump’s meaning from his words. But what to make of a candidate who directly appeals to violence, smears his opponents and publicly bullies a Gold Star family, a decorated prisoner of war, and a reporter with a disability, among others? To borrow the words of Army Counsel Joseph Welch, directed at another dangerous demagogue: “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

The truth remains that words do matter, especially when it comes to presidential candidates. On that basis alone, Donald Trump is not qualified to be president of the United States.

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I wish the Kennedy family had written their opinion piece before the election. It might have prevented Trump from being elected. I still believe in the Kennedys despite the traumas and scandals they have gone through. Losing John and Bobby to assassination was not an easy experience for a family to survive. It left scars and trauma that took tolls on the children of both men and their Kennedy cousins.

 

It took tolls on the rest of America. I remember being in school when the student body president got on the PA system and told us President Kennedy had been killed in Dallas. I had worked for his campaign. I had worked to “Get out the Vote.” Now he was dead. Later, at home, I watched the news and Walter Cronkite over and over and could not grasp how a good man could be lost like this. Years later in Dallas, I went to the Grassy Knoll and the book repository and tried to make sense of it all. Two innocuous spots in the great state of Texas that will remain in infamy the site of horrible and unnecessary carnage.

 

I knew then that Kennedy wasn’t perfect and know it now. But you hold up a John Kennedy or a Robert Kennedy against a Donald Trump and the comparison is like weak tea.  They wanted to change America by building her up and bring a better life to all her people black or white. They believed in equality. They believed in giving less fortunate people a hand up and the entire family has done that.

If both had lived, America today would be an entirely different country. They would have accomplished all of their platforms and the black people would be much better off. We would have gotten out of Vietnam sooner. The middle class would have been shored up and vocational training and /or college would have been promoted. If one or the other had survived, they would have carried on. I watched Bobby die on TV. I heard him give his speech and walk off stage. They decided to take him out through the hotel kitchens. As I sat there, a bullet cut down his life. A scream died on the lips of liberal America and our tears flowed like the great Mississippi.

 

Donald Trump cannot stand up against these beloved icons. He wants to tear America apart with hate and so far he has done a pretty good job. He is trying to take America from being the home of the brave to being a playground for the ultra rich. One where each of the rest of us will have to kiss their boots and kowtow to their wants. I refuse to do that. Many will refuse. In what is supposed to be my golden years, I will do everything I am capable of to ruin Trump’s plans and to help Americans see what an infantile loser he really is.

 

So, I stand with the UCLA and with black people, women, refugees, Muslims, the disabled, the disenfranchised, the unwashed masses that came to America when my grandparents came and began a new life with hard work and a stubborn drive to succeed  in this great land of America.  I stand up to Trump for my grandparents who traveled here in steerage for a new life, learned English and became citizens. Who taught us to work hard and to be proud of who we are. We, the first and second generations born here from those immigrants, must fight Trump and all he and his cronies stand for. I look forward to the coming years, after this administration is gone, beginning in 2020.

4 thoughts on “Kennedy Op-ed for Washington Post

    • Thank you Cynthia. I am just sure that liberals should not just get used to Trump as President. A lot of people are going to need us in the next four years and we aren’t going to have time to be used to anything. Hugs, Barbara

  1. This is such a necessary post right now. I had the chance recently to reread JFK’s inaugural speech again, and was disamyed when I compared it to the political rhetoric and word choose in use in today’s politics. JFK makes references to “human rights” and our “sister republics south of the border” and helping newly independent countries strengthen their democratic instsitution to instill peace. It was just a world away from the message we will be hearing next month. Words matter.

    • You are exactly right Laine. There is no comparison between Kennedy and Trump. Trump is a classless buffoon in comparison. They both care from rich families, but the Kennedy’s stressed education and giving back to the community and the country. John was a womanizer but he was not a sexual predator. Read a biography of John’s life or Bobby’s and you will discover very different men from what is running our country now. Thanks for your comment. Hugs, Barbara

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