Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Origins of Wednesday lxxi: 50 years with Robert Kennedy

The unrandom slaughter of Robert Kennedy
in Los Angeles has shown itself to share
the legacy of the unrandom extermination
of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in the souls of
those who were alive at the time. The oc-
currence of another California "primary"
election yesterday [first of two stages],
on that 50th anniversary has been noted
as a mournful reminder of what American
history might have become, had Kennedy
continued his distinctly pastoral polit-
ical struggle through the term of a nat-
ural life. But surely this is to place
the virtues he called forth, from the
stoniest of social and cultural divides,
in a grave too quiet for their complaint,
whose natural register he rang as joy.

He was not eliminated, he was dissemin-
ated, inculcated, and has elevated Am-
rican progressivism ever since millions,
still alive, heard him speak with univ-
ersal respect for the peoples of all
nations. We point to the smallness, the
hysteria, the crabbed self-pitying mal-
ignancy directed still against his vi-
sion; but also to the hollowness, not
of the content but of the structure of
our embrace of him, shriveled by con-
descension and self-exoneration as hid-
eous as anything we face, as impugned by 
this very survivorship. He is our exemp-
lary threat to the most wretched afflic-
sion, contempt. The most bracing run on
the beach ever mounted in our politics.

                         Let all who shrug
                         The grip of envy off
                         Sing in season
                         An expert's praises.

Robert F. Kennedy
  & his English Cocker 
Oregon, 1968

Nemean Ode for Pytheas
  of Aegina
Robert Fagles
Yale University Press, 1961©

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