Thursday, April 30, 2015

at noontime

Today, 2 excerpts:

Re:  Exc. 1
----------------- In his book The Kennedy Half-Century, Larry Sabato discusses the ongoing impact of Nov. 22, 1963, and the idea of Americans trusting their government "not so much" ...

If many citizens don't trust government, does it work the other way around too, does gov't. not-trust the people?  Would this explain an alleged "us-versus-them" attitude on the part of some urban law enforcement people toward the public?  Does mistrust and fear boil up into generalized hostility between people in other areas of our national life?

Re:  Exc. 2
------------------- Arthur Schlesinger Jr., in his Journals, talks in real time -- from 1962, in 1962 -- about an historical civil rights effort.  (Regarding "Black Lives Matter" in the news now in 2015 -- By 1969, I thought racism was in the past, problem solved.  [We did that...]  But I was in elementary school then, and didn't see that maybe human history doesn't move forward in a smooth way, it more sort of lurches along...)


--------------- [excerpt 1] -------------

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I've come to talk with you again.


Those who remember November 22, 1963, cannot escape the darkness of a moment that has haunted us for fifty years. 

Most recall every second of the frequently replayed, silent home movies that recorded John Kennedy's last living ride through Dallas. 

"In the naked light" of a bright Texas sun at noontime we forever see, as Paul Simon did in his assassination-inspired song, the motorcade passing on Dallas streets, "ten thousand people, maybe more -- people talking without speaking." 

It is a nightmare that will never be erased from our national consciousness. 

The lingering, gnawing questions about the assassination reinforce our inability to forget.  The seeds of modern cynicism were planted that day, and their bitter fruit has left us unwilling to trust much of what we are told by the powerful in and out of government.


-------------------- [excerpt 2] ----------------


September 22

[On Monday, the 17th,] I lunched at the British Embassy.  I drove back with [U.S. Attorney General] Bobby Kennedy, and we discussed the impending trouble at the University of Mississippi [over the admission of a black student, James Meredith].

I made some suggestions about the historical status of the "interposition" doctrine.  Later that day Ed Guthman called and said that Bobby wondered whether I could supply some of this background for a statement on the Mississippi crisis. 

I went over to Justice about six thirty and found the legal group in Bobby's garish office.

Everyone was in shirtsleeves except Nick Katzenbach, who sat saturninely in the background and said softly that he saw no reason to issue a statement at that time. 

Guthman had drafted a statement, to which I added a quotation from the Mississippi Legislature in 1832 denouncing the interposition doctrine.  Bobby pondered this and then engaged in quiet conversation with his people about the best mode of protecting the Negro student when he tried to register.

The mixture of shirtsleeved casualness, soft voices and evident determination was impressive. 

In the end, Bobby agreed with Nick about the statement, and it was deferred.  Instead, he issued quiet orders and his troops dispersed. 

He told me, by the way, that he regarded Governor Barnett of Mississippi as genuinely loony -- that he had been hit on the head by an airplane propeller last summer and had never been the same since.

James Meredith walking to class accompanied by U.S. marshals


{Journals.  1952 - 2000.  Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.  The Penguin Press, New York, 2007.}

{The Kennedy Half-Century.  Larry J. Sabato.  Bloomsbury, 2013}


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