RFK, MLK, Oakland and Us

posted at 5:40 pm on July 11, 2010 by Anchoress

A few days ago I linked to a piece by J. Peter Nixon and his thoughts and actions in anticipation of a trial verdict toward which a few hundred agitators had been encouraging civil unrest.

Having remained in Oakland that night, choosing to pray at a Cathedral rather than flee, Nixon concluded his thoughts thusly:

I wonder, in retrospect, what would have happened if enough of us had stayed, if we had continued that ministry of non-violent presence, if we had been willing to keep vigil in the heart of the city throughout the night. There were hundreds of police, but that didn’t keep the peace. I wonder if something else could have.

Comments on Nixon’s piece ran from the thoughtful to the defensive to the outraged. We could dialogue for a week on how people received his piece, and why they received it as they did–let’s face it, the nation is just plain edgy right now, and too many are running on autopilot–but I think Nixon’s sentiments are important for us to consider, especially today, when we are pondering the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan, and what it means to be a neighbor – to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. At their core his ideas were not about political and ideological allegiance, but about the depths of our callings–as human beings and as Christians–and out out-of-touch we have become to them.

We must reacquaint ourselves with our own better angels if we want recognize them and help them to fly within our midst.

Political and civil agitators have always existed to exploit a moment, but the needless violence in Oakland (and the unhelpfully disunifying, response of the Department of Justice, which seeks to “review” the Oakland conviction, while setting aside this one) demonstrates that we are lacking any credible public voice capable of countering inflammatory rhetoric with a thoughtful appeal to our better selves.

Reading Nixon, I could not help but remember Martin Luther King’s better way, or how–at the news of his assassination–Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s extemporaneous and authentic response to it helped to bring a measure of peace to an awful moment. It is an instance where a choice of words could have inflamed or consoled. Kennedy chose consolation, and an appeal to the shared yearnings of the human heart.

Listen here as he breaks the news of King’s death to what is reported to have been a “largely black crowd,” at an Indiana campaign stop. He draws on all of his resources, and in the rising tide of his rhetoric, lifts all boats:

The terrible video is incomplete. Read the rest of Kennedy’s appeal to the crowd here.

Our common desires to live together peaceably and productively need to be expressed and encouraged, or they will be trod underfoot by heedless self-interest. In our cynical age, where a serious crisis is perceived as a mere political opportunity, do we have anyone left in public service who is capable of communicating them with sincerity, and helping to build, rather than tear down?

(Elizabeth Scalia writes at First Things, where she blogs as The Anchoress. Cross-posted there.)


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

I know I’m probaby one of the few liberals who loves this web site (but I can’t stand Obama — really I can’t! That’s how I got here!) but the loss of RFK (and MLK) still saddens me, all these years later. I think MLK was a truly great American and could have done so much more, had he not been cut down. and I still wonder what would have happened if not for California, just a few short weeks after the killing of MLK.

Opportunities lost for a different direction…

lizzieillinois on July 11, 2010 at 5:48 PM

lizzieillinois
The assassination of MLK was an unmitigated disaster for this country. As for Kennedy, another bloody period to a long career in politics.

rob verdi on July 11, 2010 at 5:52 PM

Oh cm’on,
everyone over HERE knows Oakland is THERE

We would have been surprised if there had been NO rioting in Oakland, the birth place of black panthers and stomping grounds of van Jones.
http://www.artopic.org/?p=223

Oaklanders have always been exploited by the white republican ‘man’ . These riots were a cry of help for freedom…donchya know ?
/

macncheez on July 11, 2010 at 6:07 PM

That is all very nice but we all know what compassion and caring for our fellow man means to liberals. It means we should agree with their entire agenda. To surrender our assets and liberty to the altar of social justice which enables them to buy votes to ensure their total control over our lives. If you complain, you are a dumb racist and selfish.

I am not impressed by the Kennedy’s. John was charismatic, handsome and funny but that is about all. He brought us to the brink of nuclear war. He probably stole the election with the help of the mob and the labor unions. He also signed the executive order allowing government employees to unionize, something that is now destroying us financially.

Robert Kennedy spied on MLK, he was more than willing to abuse his power as AG. The entire family was a bunch of corrupt, immoral crooks.

echosyst on July 11, 2010 at 6:11 PM

do we have anyone left in public service who is capable of communicating them with sincerity, and helping to build, rather than tear down?

If only. If more people would stop seeing things thru narrow prizms, and stop looking at the world as ours and theirs, and us and them, and we looked at ourselves as Americans, and nothing more…there would be more unity. I pray for that each day. It’s very easy to do, but one has to truly want it. Not just use it, and exploit it for personal gain!

capejasmine on July 11, 2010 at 6:13 PM

The officer could have been sentenced to death, immediately marched over to a brick wall and executed, and they still would have rioted in Oakland.

Its a mentality more than anything.

jbh45 on July 11, 2010 at 6:19 PM

As for Kennedy, another bloody period to a long career in politics.

I’m not sure what this means.

YYZ on July 11, 2010 at 6:21 PM

echosyst on July 11, 2010 at 6:11 PM

Thank you.

Mirimichi on July 11, 2010 at 6:22 PM

Our political structure is now built upon defining differences, not looking for a common ground.

ButterflyDragon on July 11, 2010 at 6:29 PM

The entire family was a bunch of corrupt, immoral crooks.

echosyst on July 11, 2010 at 6:11 PM

Thank goodness their power seems seeping away…

MeatHeadinCA on July 11, 2010 at 6:29 PM

Political and civil agitators have always existed to exploit a moment, but the needless violence in Oakland (and the unhelpfully disunifying, response of the Department of Justice, which seeks to “review” the Oakland conviction, while setting aside this one)

Why didn’t Holder’s Dar Oul Jihad
takeover this case and try this officer in a fed trial from the beginning if they were so sure that that was needed to be done (in the name of ‘justice’ ofcourse ) ?
Since Osacar Grant’s family has been hanging out with the nation of islam , who have been making statements to the media on behalf of the family and who surround the Grant family whenever and wherever they appear in the media, I’m pretty sure its just a coincidence that Stedman and his AlQaeda 7 ( or 9) are poking their noses now,
into the matter.

macncheez on July 11, 2010 at 6:31 PM

Is it absurd, in America to have some hope that some, or one, of the new idealistic congressional candidates will take and keep some love of country and honor to Washington?

I am not a racist on July 11, 2010 at 6:33 PM

*to be

MeatHeadinCA on July 11, 2010 at 6:35 PM

What would be really cool is if there was a real riot. These were just a bunch of punks who wanted to loot. That’s a really good way to show your outrage.

Squiggy on July 11, 2010 at 6:44 PM

The entire Kennedy family is a blight on American history.

DwnSouthJukin on July 11, 2010 at 6:50 PM

Thank goodness their power seems seeping away…

MeatHeadinCA on July 11, 2010 at 6:29 PM

“..seems [to be] seeping away”? I kinda think that it’s like the half gallon of milk broken on a desert highway at noon..

..he said, searching for an appropriate simile and coming up empty.

The War Planner on July 11, 2010 at 6:51 PM

I know I’m probaby one of the few liberals who loves this web site

lizzieillinois on July 11, 2010 at 5:48 PM

Hello fellow Illinoisian!

You’re here because you’re in a “transition.” You’re slowly realizing what Modern Liberalism actually is in practice vs. what American conservatism is. Soon you will realize that you’ve been an icky conservative your whole life without even knowing it. Welcome aboard! :D

visions on July 11, 2010 at 6:52 PM

AG Eric Holder is probably opening an investigation of Bobby Kennedy’s cowardly comments…

profitsbeard on July 11, 2010 at 6:53 PM

I am not a racist on July 11, 2010 at 6:33 PM

We no longer expect anyone to keep their word even to their own hurt. Honor doesn’t sell

chemman on July 11, 2010 at 7:11 PM

“..seems [to be] seeping away”? I kinda think that it’s like the half gallon of milk broken on a desert highway at noon..

..he said, searching for an appropriate simile and coming up empty.

The War Planner on July 11, 2010 at 6:51 PM

Can you imagine if Obama and the Kennedys had had their way and we had Senator Princess Kennedy?

MeatHeadinCA on July 11, 2010 at 7:16 PM

I’m not sure what this means.

YYZ on July 11, 2010 at 6:21 PM

A period is terminal punctuation which ends a sentence.
.
RFK’s life and career in politics was ended by murder.
.
Thus, the literary allusion to murder as “a bloody period”, or termination, as it were, of life and political career.

ExpressoBold on July 11, 2010 at 7:35 PM

Can you imagine if Obama and the Kennedys had had their way and we had Senator Princess Kennedy?

MeatHeadinCA on July 11, 2010 at 7:16 PM

I’m already having a hard time with the reality of what’s been going on.

Imagining it as even worse… No thanks.

trigon on July 11, 2010 at 7:39 PM

Related to race relations:

PantherGATE: OBAMA’S WATERGATE

Mutnodjmet on July 11, 2010 at 7:41 PM

Robert Kennedy spied on MLK, he was more than willing to abuse his power as AG. The entire family was a bunch of corrupt, immoral crooks.

echosyst on July 11, 2010 at 6:11 PM

Actually had a Leftist try to defend Bobby’s spying on MLK to me at a party a few weeks ago. He said it was all J. Edgar Hoover’s fault!

Camelot Lives.

Del Dolemonte on July 11, 2010 at 7:58 PM

There were hundreds of police, but that didn’t keep the peace. I wonder if something else could have.

Earth to Nixon; when people are hell bent on causing mischief and destruction for their own ends, NO “something” else would not have worked either.

The anarchists have been getting bolder and bolder each year and the dollar amount of damages continues to rise. It’s long past time for a city holding a venue that they know will attract such trash to issue a warning before hand. “We’re not putting up with you. We are not going to handle you with kid gloves. If it’s violence you want, it is violence you shall receive. If you’re coming to cause problems and destruction, please carry identification so we know to whom to ship the body.”

GarandFan on July 11, 2010 at 8:07 PM

ExpressoBold on July 11, 2010 at 7:35 PM

YYZ has to be an aggregator for some liberal media matters type org. He is always fishing…fishing fishing fishing

Inanemergencydial on July 11, 2010 at 9:25 PM

GarandFan on July 11, 2010 at 8:07 PM

Actually there is still at least one government institution who upholds honor and gets respect – our military. The lefties who most need cops, denigrate them the most. Silly, foolish lefties.

Just a hint; these vets are volunteers who return to civilian life with the same values, reinforced, with which they joined. Most did not contract as warriors and most are not trained to subdue violence. There are those properly honored ones who join their forefathers as equipped with judgment and skills to protect the sheep. Bless all.

The Petraeus doctrine is needed in America. After Bambi, we need to build a legitimate government.

Caststeel on July 11, 2010 at 9:43 PM

Our common desires to live together peaceably and productively need to be expressed and encouraged, or they will be trod underfoot by heedless self-interest

You mean like suing a state, rather then sitting down and discussing solutions?

right2bright on July 12, 2010 at 7:47 AM

The RFK video harkens back to a day when the public (quite innocently) took politicians at their own word. There is no doubt that RFK was a scoundrel as AG and before, nor is there any doubt that JFK’s murder changed him. At this point, only he knows how sincere his words on MLK were. It is because of people like JFK, RFK, LBJ and Nixon that we have devolved into debates on the meaning of “is” and into orchestrated disinformation campaigns to shift blame and escape accountability. Now, while our Rome burns, we obsess about Nero’s birth certificate.

Mark30339 on July 12, 2010 at 9:51 AM