Blake Fleetwood History Original

Robert F. Kennedy: A Golden Age Cut Short

54 years ago today, June 6, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated and America turned into a darker, meaner place in the five decades that have followed.

By Blake Fleetwood / Original to ScheerPost

Robert Kennedy’s death came when America was on the cusp of transformation. It was changing from a  racist, sexist, authoritarian, war-mongering society toward a society of more equal social and political justice – the kind that western Europe was adopting.

It has been all downhill since that fateful day in June 1968. Much of that progressive change was stalled for decades. Kennedy was uniquely positioned among politicians to bridge the widening divisions — a gaping hole, really — between lower income Blacks, Hispanics and middle class whites, without a college degree, all of whom were beginning to suffer the devastating effects of globalization, automation and the crumbling of the American Dream.

I believe that we would not have the pernicious, polarized politics we have today if he had lived. Our divisions would have been lessened. We would not today be on the brink of a second American Civil War.

In 1978, income for the 70% of Americans, without a college degree, began to decline which, along with enormous wealth gains for an elite,  created the vast inequality we have today.

As a young 24 year old graduate student at Columbia University, I was to join the RFK campaign staff the following week.

The spring of 1968 had been exhilarating and tumultuous. It was the most exciting, exhilarating, period of the last five decades. College campuses across the country were seized with a revolutionary fervor. 

Courageously Senator Gene McCarthy challenged a sitting President, Lyndon Johnson. McCarthy ran an energetic anti-war campaign against the carnage in Vietnam. Martin Luther King had been assassinated in April. Students were protesting for change everywhere. The country was in dire need for someone who could bring the warring parties together and heal the wounds.  

In March, Bobby Kennedy, with great anguish, decided to enter the presidential primaries and also contest the nomination of a powerful sitting president, Lyndon B. Johnson. Facing angry crowds wherever he went, and on the verge of losing the Wisconsin Primary, Johnson declared that he would not seek re-election. Shortly thereafter, Vice President Hubert Humphrey announced his candidacy, but declined to enter the primaries, relying on party bosses to deliver the needed delegates.

In the last week of May, McCarthy, and his army of idealistic young people, students, and intellectuals, astonishingly beat Kennedy in the Oregon Primary. The results of the June California primary would decide whether Kennedy’s quest for the nomination was at all viable. Robert Kennedy was relying on the more traditional voting blocs, his people: the Latinos, Blacks, and working class poor whites. The excluded ones. 

On the night of the California primary, I stayed up until 3 AM waiting on the final results. After Kennedy’s victory speech, I dozed off in a contented sleep. Minutes later, a commotion on television woke me up. Kennedy had been shot in the head. Nobody knew anything, but everybody knew everything. The nightmares began. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t stay awake. I kept waking up thinking it was all a dream….. but the television was still on…. He was shot in the head…..He was shot in the head….. over and over again…until he finally died 26 hours later.

The images of Kennedy lying in a pool of his own blood in the Ambassador Hotel kitchen in Los Angeles are forever seared into my brain.

Is it possible that the act of one mad man could so drastically alter the course of history?

With the hindsight of 50 years, I can clearly see how different the world would have been had Bobby Kennedy lived. His assassination was even more significant, and ruinous, than the deaths of his brother, John F. Kennedy, or Martin Luther King Jr.

Kennedy’s untimely death came at a moment when the world was on the verge of radical change — between Cold War enemies and post Cold War non-violence, between an authoritarian society and social and political justice — and much of that change was stalled and derailed in the U.S. for decades to come after Kennedy was assassinated and Richard Nixon was elected president.

In the five years after his brother was shot, RFK had witnessed a society in turmoil.

The success of the Civil Rights movement – and the hope that it had begotten – inspired and empowered students all over the world. Evil, in the form of racism, sexism, and Cold War colonialism, could be challenged and defeated. From this moment on, it was our duty, as the children of a prosperous society, to question everything and demand a change for good.

A global uprising of exhilarating hope that change was possible spread to students and young people all over, amplified by television images and electronic media reports as never before. 

The protests leapt from country to country like wildfires feeding on each other.

It was the time of the Prague Spring and, later that summer, there were massive protests against Soviet oppression in Czechoslovakia. There were student demonstrations worldwide: in Poland, a roiling resentment against Russian domination, while Italy and Germany erupted in anti-Vietnam War protests, and young Mexicans were busy fighting against chronic inequality and a feudal ruling class. 

In France, 40 million students and workers went on strike for the entire month of May 1968, protesting the Algerian war and worker injustices.

And Robert Kennedy, a compassionate Catholic, already appalled by injustices towards the disenfranchised, was inspired by the possibilities.

He picked up the torch and rhetoric of the times: “Let us not have tired answers.”

“Some men see things as they are and say why? I dream of things that never were and say why not.”

Kennedy was the perfect messenger, the royal heir, who could bridge the divide between the old world and the newly emerging one. He had strong ties to the traditional Democratic Party machine that had elected his brother and yet, was able to harness the energy, anger and hope that the post-WWII generation – the largest ever – was producing.

RFK was a rare mix of radical compassion: somewhat conservative personal values, self sacrifice, personal discipline, stoicism and patriotism, rooted in moral conviction. He was also perfectly attuned to his times.

He had a perpetual sense of outrage at the racial, political, and social injustices that were crippling our country.

For most political observers there is no question that Bobby would have won the nomination. After winning the California primary, Kennedy was a scant 108 delegates behind Humphrey. He was picking up momentum, sucking the air from the McCarthy crusade. McCarthy supporters would have united with the Kennedy delegates. Kennedy had a unifying idealism that would have brought the party together and probably even won the support of the machine politicians like Mayor Daley.

And Kennedy would have also beaten a flawed and awkward Richard Nixon.

As it happened, the chaos and violence of that summer’s Chicago Democratic convention triggered a backlash that ensured Nixon’s narrow victory over Humphrey. Nixon’s trump card was a “Secret Plan” to end the Vietnam war.

But despite Nixon’s “Secret Plan,” the Vietnam War raged on for another seven years, at a cost of 38,000 more young American lives.

The nasty Nixon era was followed by a dreary progression of conservative, uninspiring leaders — Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden. Even the best of these Presidents, however progressive, could never manage to forge a coalition for meaningful change.

The grand dreams and hopes of 1968 were gone.

Almost immediately after the spring assassinations, the movements that had sprouted in the sixties began to splinter, and parts turned violent. The Civil Rights movement spawned the Black Liberation Front and thuggish elements of the Black Panthers. Some SDS fringe groups evolved into the violent Weathermen.

But what if Robert F. Kennedy had lived?

It is an irresistible, tantalizing, and admittedly, unanswerable question.

But I can dream that Nixon would have faded away. George McGovern would not have been nominated in 1972; the Democratic Party would not have splintered. Jimmy Carter would not have been elected president in 1976. Kennedy would have been President for eight years and inspired a new generation of idealistic leaders to carry on his vision. 

Kennedy would have brought us to a golden age of justice, progressive legislation, and a compassionate Supreme Court. Nixon and Ford nominated and confirmed five conservative Supreme Court Justices.

Kennedy would have been more supportive of the environmental movement (The Kyoto treaty would have been signed), the Women’s Liberation movement, and the Gay Rights movement.

Kennedy aide and speechwriter, Peter Edelman, has said that there is no question that RFK would have negotiated an early end to the Vietnam War by 1969 and worked hard toward racial reconciliation and the narrowing of the income gap at home.

Kennedy would have adopted a wiser, more restrained foreign policy, (more like the advanced Europeans countries of today) and would not have felt the need to aggressively bully the rest of the world. He would not have felt the need to create the American Empire we have today.  We would not have gone to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. America would have aided Russia’s nascent democracy after the collapse of communism in 1990 and prevented the economic woes and devastation that led to the election of Vladimir Putin and eventually the Ukrainian invasion.  

With a calming of the international waters – and abandonment of the belief that our great military might and wealth could impose an American solution to every international problem – foreign relations and The Cold War would have been far less tumultuous. The American Embassy in Iran might not have been seized; the oil crisis and the recessions of the seventies and eighties would have been milder, without the additional seven years of crippling Vietnam War debt.

We would have developed a different, easier relationship with the rest of the world. Gentler, not so overbearing.

Robert Kennedy has a continuing, extraordinary hold on our imagination, not because he was a martyr, but because he, (and his brother) represented hope.

The Golden years that might have been continue to haunt us.

If Kennedy had lived, I don’t believe that we would have stayed in Vietnam for another 7 years,  invaded  Iraq, nor do I believe that the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center would have happened. Thus, I do not believe we would have invaded Afghanistan.  We would now have a better, more admired, safer country, a more humane nation, and a more generous democratic society.

We were cheated out of the chance to see how his ideas and dreams would have played out. RFK was not a perfect man, none of us is, but he was the right man at the right time and would have moved us gracefully into a new era.

Bobby never failed us. He never grew old. He never sold out.

He opened up a vision for the future. Sadly, he was denied the opportunity to lead us there, but he showed us the way.

His legacy lives on, albeit slowly.

“The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.” –Edward M. Kennedy.

Blake Fleetwood

Blake Fleetwood was formerly a reporter on the staff of The New York Times and has written for The New York Times MagazineNew York MagazineThe New York Daily News, the Wall Street JournalUSA Today, the Village Voice, Atlantic, and the Washington Monthly on a number of issues. He was born in Santiago, Chile and moved to New York City at the age of three. He graduated from Bard College and did graduate work in political science and comparative politics at Columbia University. He has also taught politics at New York University. He can be reached at jfleetwood@aol.com.

31 comments

  1. The writer is absolutely right about RFK. Back in 68 when he recited Aeschylus to the
    rioters in Watts the night of ML’s murder, set him apart from all the other contestants
    for the presidency. Once we lost him, no other like him has ever surfaced, and our
    present situation today is mute testimony to that truth. I believe today that he was killed by the same group that killed his brother. Not only to silence him, but also in self defense. If he had been elected president, he would have used all the powers of the
    presidency to investigate and expose those responsible. And our countries history would have been changed for the better.

  2. A sad elegy and a litany of what-ifs, but it was the assassination of JFK which was the seminal event. Someone killed the most important man on the planet. Was it a horrible incident of lone-wolf madness or an organised attack? The subsequent murders of MLK and JFK confirmed the latter. The exposure of Nixon’s lying criminality reinforced that conclusion. Göring’s criticism of the Nürnberg trials – that America itself was built on the genocide of indigenous peoples, enslavement and forced labor, the domination of other countries by force or subversion – is by now undeniable. Nazism may have been named for the Germans, but it is a perennial scourge which, adopted by America, has gone from strength to strength, culminating latterly in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, a Global Bank Raid, and most recently a dress rehearsal for biowar, complete with Mengele-style experiments by Big Pharma and mass-formation government psyops matching anything in Orwell’s admonitory vision.

  3. The Darker Side of Camelot, written by Seymour M. Hersh, 1997 fills in the story of the Kennedys

  4. Thank you Blake Fleetwood….I join you in your honoring of Robert F. Kennedy and the awakenings alive for the greater good that stirred during that era…

  5. Here we go again – yet another “how great it could have been” essay – but, wait – I am not disparaging you ! The values you speak of can be likened to embers that continue to glow in the darkness of our times. We must not allow them to be extinguished forever. Against all the odds that are piled against us by the forces of evil that now threaten our very right to exist, we must continue to blow the breath of humanity on these glowing embers so that the flames of peace, justice and freedom can be ignited, perhaps for the first time in human history. And you and others amongst us must continue speaking out in the face of this tide of novel fascism, and to continue writing in defiance of those afflicted by a pathology of power, who want our books and pamphlets thrown on this bonfire of vanities which has now been piled up in the town square . If this sociopathic ruling elite think that through the agency of their operatives, they can carry on killing the person and thus effectively annihilating the idea, they are gravely mistaken. Other platforms of debate and discourse having been systematically dismantled and removed, this, nevertheless, remains our fourth estate – and we will protect it at all costs – not least for the sake of those who will succeed us. What is crucial here, is that in a firestorm of emotion, we don’t start fighting amongst ourselves – for then we only enable others who want us eradicated. True power lies in our solidarity – and security is only to be found in our diversity. It is a battle against imperialism and white supremacy – and it is not over. . .

    1. Nationalize oil and gas. Do away with globalism. Take back our country.

  6. IMHO neither RFK nor Bernie were the least bit effective in bringing a Peaceful Revolution Against EMPIRE to fruition — because they didn’t seriously know that the “Disease of Republics” which is EMPIRE was the only effin way to expose, expunge, excoriate, and exterminate this effin:

    Disguised Global Crony Capitalist Racist Propagandist Criminal Ecocidal Child-Killing & War-Starting EMPIRE, controlled by the ‘Ruling-Elite’, UHNWI, <0.003%ers, TCCers, arrogantly self-appointed "Masters of the Universe", and "Evil (not-so) Geniuses" [Kurt Andersen] — which hides Empire behind their totally corrupted dual-party Vichy-facade of faux-democracy.

    Some people are idiots, but most are just so effed-up with PROPAGANDA that they can't even think anymore.

    I have developed double-sided signs that work to expose, educate, and ignite people against EMPIRE. Full Stop

  7. Good Article. So Heartbreaking.
    We would be living in a very different world today if President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King had not been assassinated.
    Us young people of the 1960’s were cheated out of our rightful leaders.

  8. These things that you say Are exactly why they killed RFK. They wanted to stop the people from regaining their rights, and stopping the rich from taking everything from us!

  9. Interesting: Quite a transformation into a civil rights champion . . . . Kennedy was in many ways a strange liberal icon because he grew up idolizing Herbert Hoover, was closest in his family to his father, Joseph, the millionaire business tycoon, began his career supporting Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist witch-hunt, called for victory against communism in Vietnam in the early 1960s, and oversaw a terrorist campaign designed to overthrow the Cuban government.

    “Yet even after over 50 years, high government officials like Vice President Kamala Harris are still trying to cover up the truth about his murder.”

  10. Dear Mr. Fleetwood,
    Thank you for your heartfelt and profound praise of Robert Kennedy. He was my guy for that election. I saw him in Oregon the week before his death and mourned his passing as you did. Yes, the world would be a different place had he been president for eight years. You said, however, “America would have aided Russia’s nascent democracy after the collapse of communism in 1990 and prevented the economic woes and devastation that led to the election of Vladimir Putin and eventually the Ukrainian invasion.” I disagree. Putin would have been elected and the Soviet Union dismantled, replaced by a socialistic democracy, bringing 70 million out of poverty and into the middle class, exactly as happened. The difference would be no war in Ukraine nor NATO movement into the last security border for Russia. When Putin reached out his hand in friendship, as he’s done so many times, Bobby Kennedy would have accepted that offer and Russia wouldn’t be the “enemy” subsequent presidents have insisted upon [especially Bill (and Hillary) Clinton whose end-goal is now happening in Ukraine with a view to regime change], and the MIC weapons manufacturers wouldn’t rule our “democracy.” And China wouldn’t be on our “hit list.” Thanks again for your eloquence in honoring Robert Kennedy, a hero gone too soon.

  11. RFK is ancient history and the majority of American’s couldn’t even tell you who he was with the exception of a few who could tell you he was JFK’s brother and he was also assassinated. He has no legacy at all in the public psyche. Most American’s couldn’t tell you where Rhode Island is….or that it is even a state. We have no historical consciousness whatsoever. We have no political consciousness whatsoever. We have no social consciousness whatsoever.

    What we do have, and have in abundance, is ignorance, greed and the cult of me.

  12. Quite frankly, I am appalled that Mr. Scheer would allow this naive, revisionist screed to appear on his otherwise fine newsletter.

    Oh, what cheery, hopeful vistas our imaginative flights of fancy allow us to us to view!

    If ONLY X, had lived! What a wonderful world we would inhabit! What alternative universes we could visit! Right up there with Calvin and Hobbes!

    Really?

    RFK was an unprincipled, power-hungry goon, who came by it honestly, being a Kennedy and all. Cuba, anyone? Bay of Pigs, et al? Just a taste…

    Here’s more: https://covertactionmagazine.com/2022/05/25/bombshell-sixty-years-after-her-death-new-evidence-suggests-that-marilyn-monroe-was-murdered-by-bobby-kennedy-and-lapd-covered-up-murder/

    Mr. Scheer, going forward, I urge you to vet your guest posts a bit more fervently.

    Cheers!

  13. Thank you for this reminder of RFK and of the times when we were brave enough to stand up, expressing our values. I, too, am haunted by what might have been…

  14. If Kennedy could have done only half of what Mr. Fleetwood indicated, we will have been much better off. My feeling is that he would have been shot later while president and his legacy forgotten by only Mr. Fleetwood. President Lincoln posed great promise during his presidency as well. All must remember among his last words, “With malice toward none.” It seems this nation doesn’t have the stuff for true greatness.

  15. It still breaks my heart. I remember every June 6. You summed up so well who he was and the difference he would have made. I was only 14 at the time, and Canadian, but you could sense that he was the man for the hour.

  16. RFK was NOT felled by the insane act of a lone nut. This has been conclusively established. This was the outcome of an elaborate plot with assassins waiting at every egress point the RFK party might have used.

    See “A Lie Too Big To Fail” by Lisa Pease and research done by William Pepper, former attorney for Sirhan.

  17. Nixon, a heinous president and one the great tragedies of American politics was McGovern’s defeat. It also signifies the existent conservatism within the period. Which would have been impossible to breach by the force of mere personality.

    JFK’s victory over Nixon was at best, contrived and he result of actions by unsavory characters. Nor was JFK a shining light and all the nonsense about Camelot was ‘branding’. On might recall, JFK took the world to the brink of apocalypse in 1962. RFK was an integral part of all the machinations of his brother’s presidency. As a known member of the JFK administration confided: Kennedy was reckless and unfit to be president. That from one of his loyalists Dave Waters.

    As for RFK, as saviour, that is a conflated posit. One might examine his actions towards Cuba. His actions toward MLK were less than enlightened, approving wiretaps and surveillance more akin to the KGB, than a functional democracy. RFK was a one-time hatchet man for Joe McCarthy, who was godfather to one of RFK’s children. Neither RFK or his brother disavowed McCarthy. RFK was a virulent anti-communist and cold warrior.

    RFK’s plan for Vietnam was a gradual withdrawal and replacement of US troops by an international force, contingent on the removal of North Vietnamese troops from southern Vietnam. North Vietnam would never have agreed to such.

    Draping RFK in angelisms is based on hazy assumptions and not on any factual evidence of a progressive agenda and is a meaningless parlor game, that seems a nostalgic longing for something that never existed except as a pipe dream. RFK was a wealthy dauphin and a member of the elite. A family that was intent on dynastic rule – much the same as their antithesis, the Bush junta. Such is dangerous and wholly undemocratic. RFK’s ascension to Senator from NY is evidence of a very corrupting power. One that was purposeful in obtaining the presidency, as if it was a matter of buying an office in line with the ambitions of a patriarch who resembled a Mafia don.

    It would have ended the rise of Nixon and delayed the ascent of such as Rumsfeld, Cheney and Norquist. It would not have staved off the eventual corporate totalitarianism and theocratic fascism. Whether or not Reagan would have taken office is a unknown. The right wing that emerged under Goldwater was playing a long game. One might speculate that a Republican version of Huey Long would have ascended instead of the odious Reagan. There existed a large, conservative, palefaced element that reflected atavistic values. But, all of it idle speculation.

    Sanctifying RFK is spinning straw into gold.

    1. Richard,
      “One might recall, JFK took the world to the brink of apocalypse in 1962.” Are you kidding. Kennedy with Khrushchev performed the last act of diplomacy this country has seen. Not one person, president or sec. of state, has used diplomacy since that last act of Jack Kennedy. Not one.

      1. reminder: one of the major military build-ups in US history was under JFK. Transferring nuclear capabilities to submarines – Polaris – took shape during his time, pushing nuclear warfare to an unprecedented level and changing the entire game. Which btw made the Jupiter missiles in Turkey worthless and thus JFKs hailed deal after Cuba. It was a scam. He gave the Russians nothing in effect. And before there was Cuba, there was Khrushchev´s offer for disarmament. Explicitly ignored by the administration. Forgotten today. Basically the same game as we see now: Pushing the envelope on possible terminal war and testing Russian military strength – accompanied by constant provocation. Reckless, sick behaviour. To stay in the mythology: more Mordor than Camelot. For reasons unclear these things stay buried. Instead people waste their energy on MM and JFK´s affairs. While the world would go up in flames.

      2. Thanks for the information. But the military did push JFK to bomb Cuba and he refused.

  18. When I was a teen boy I really liked Bobby, and I would repeat his lines from Tennyson at Debate Club meetings. I stayed up the night he won in California and was shot, and called all my Catholic and Liberal friends around 6am, crying to their groggy parents. Wednesday was just another working day and school day, but I stayed home watching TV. I was really down for months. I’m glad I kept my mind open these 54 years.
    With his experience and graduate study Blake Fleetwood should be far more sophisticated than this idealistic point of view indicates. Is this a PsyOp or what? Bob Kennedy was a hardened pragmatist from a near underworld multi-millionaire family (Fleetwood says royalty). He was tied up with mob figures and likely played a role in Marilyn Monroe’s murder (over her threat to reveal affairs). He was a White House liaison helping with the Bay of Pigs assault. He had been a commie hunting staffer on a Congressional Committee. And Bob was not murdered by a “lone gunman”, nor were his brother Jack or Martin Luther King. Yes, as John Boy Walton might say, “Those were heady days.” But as ripe as the world electorate was for more democracy, the American oligarchy was dead set against it (Lewis Powell and Samuel Huntington spilled the beans on that.) I imagine my SDS experience would have still turned Weather Underground because even if RFK had been elected the brakes would have locked down just as they have with Biden recently (promises, promises, I’m all through with promises, promises now). Detente with China would have still been needed for access to cheap labor and an expanded market. Maybe the crisis of Empire and Late Stage Capitalism would have been delayed so that the arranged spectacle of 9/11 and a fullblown totalitarian War on Terror (and the Bill of Rights) would not have been needed so soon. It’s silly and foolish Great Man Theory to assume that any one leader changes structural outcomes. At some point Perpetual War Profiteering and Capitalist Conflaguration come to pass, along with the metabolic rift causing climate disruption, mass death and famine, if not nuclear war. But if these delusions (Make America Great Again) are what is required for Blake Fleetwood’s behavioral stability and sound sleep he’s welcome to dream (I can’t).

  19. “…between lower income Blacks, Hispanics and middle class whites…” A side issue, I supposed, but it raises an important question that remains unanswered. We know that the majority of US low-income and poor are white, and yet media have utterly disappeared them. Since Biden took office, they make a point that, on the rare occasion they mention the poor, they’re referring specifically about people of color. What is the reasoning behind this?

  20. Blake Fleetwood’s ‘promising’ vision, “As a young 24 year old graduate student at Columbia University, I was to join the RFK campaign staff the following week.

    The spring of 1968 had been exhilarating and tumultuous. It was the most exciting, exhilarating, period of the last five decades. College campuses across the country were seized with a revolutionary fervor.

    Courageously Senator Gene McCarthy challenged a sitting President, Lyndon Johnson. McCarthy ran an energetic anti-war campaign against the carnage in Vietnam. Martin Luther King had been assassinated in April. Students were protesting for change everywhere. The country was in dire need for someone who could bring the warring parties together and heal the wounds” — could never have happened when I was a 19 year old undergrad in ’68 — because of one single and simple fact of history.

    Because this promising era/error of the “long arc of history”, was IMHO, too early by almost half a century. The promise of ’68 was only an ‘Anti-War’ (and described as an “Anti-Vietnam War”) era.

    While this was ‘promising’ with respect to “Anti-War” — the fulfillment of a truly real ‘American Dream’ will require a global “Anti-Empire” Peaceful “Revolution Against Empire” [Justin duRivage].

    Ending War first requires Ending ‘Empire-Thinking’ with:

    LOVE OVER
    POWER, MONEY
    HATE & EMPIRE

  21. I agree with most of what you’ve said….But on the question of the post-Soviet Union, I believe that any American interference (trying to create a copy-cat USA) would have gone sour….Look at what happened to Poland & Hungary?….Their leaders pretended to follow in the steps of US “democracy” but look at their dictators, no more democratic than those of Soviet times.

  22. Whether or not you liked RFK matters not. What it does signify is the beginning of the end of the Democratic Party’s progressive values that marked the era from FDR to LBJ. After the targeted assassinations of most liberal leaders from 1962 to 1968, the Democratic Party took a subtle but discernible turn to the right. The counter culture movement was crushed in Chicago that summer. The black panthers and any other “subversive” groups were rounded up and imprisoned or murdered by the FBI during the dark days of COINTELPRO.
    Some fifty plus years later and democrats are now republicans, and republicans are fascists. The planet is warming out of control, chaos is beginning to reign, and everything, especially in the worlds last remaining empire, the USA, is swirling down the drain. And it all started with a few well placed bullets back in the 1960’s, and all because the worlds oligarchs decided by 1960 that they were tired of sharing the wealth in the post WWII era.

  23. Wasn’t RFK obsessed with assassinating Castro? Sad to see the boomers still writing this kind of revisionist daydreaming. Kennedy’s idea of ending the war in Vietnam was always based on doing so only if a victory over the Communist forces was assured. Read Noam Chomsky’s “Rethinking Camelot.” RFK has been dead 54 years. It’s time to radically ponder the future as opposed to inventing pasts that never were, and instead look at history as it really was.

  24. An interesting collection of letters and comments, but some seem to me disturbingly cynical which is probably a reflection of the last few decades in this country. As a 19 year old in 1968 I remember also being cynical about American politics and the human condition. The significant support for McCarthy and then RFK gave me some hope. I began to volunteer to do whatever I could in the Kennedy campaign soon after he announced his intention to seek the nomination. At the time I was too young to vote, but had been active in the anti-war movement since I had been 16. On the night of June 6th I sat up watching the vote count. I was awake when RFK was shot and didn’t sleep the rest of the night. The next day I had a final exam in an American history class. I arrived and thought I could do it, but ended up explaining in the exam bluebook that I had not slept and had lost interest. I handed in a blank essay booklet. I have never completely recovered my sense of hope, but rejoined the anti-war movement with an unfortunate amount of anger. In any case, thanks for the essay, but I would also like to add one thing. You mentioned in the article that, “… despite Nixon’s ‘Secret Plan,’ the Vietnam War raged on for another seven years, at a cost of 38,000 more young American lives.” That is a seriously incomplete statement. The 38,000 addition deaths among those fighting for the American government is probably an accurate number, but more important is the additional, at least, 3,000,000 Vietnamese killed. Mostly civilians. Many children. Many others poisoned by such things as Agent Orange. Many of whom died later from cancer. We can’t afford to continue to remember ONLY the “American” dead and the “American” wounded. I encourage everyone to think of all those wasted lives … especially now when listening to reports of the war in Ukraine. All those deaths, Ukrainian and Russian, equally wasted on another unnecessary war.

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