It is election day in America on Tuesday. The masses move to their respective polling places and cast their votes for the next President of the United States of America. Few times in the history of this process have the stakes been so high and the candidates so contested by the opposition. One man (or woman) will win. Republican, Democrat, Green or Libertarian . . the choice is there. It's historical, it's democracy and it is your obligation as a citizen to go out and cast that vote.
We do not endorse one particular candidate but rather endorse your participation in the process. One of Jim Murray's favorite phrases, usually uttered while negotiating the maze of Los Angeles’ traffic, was: "Do something, even if it's wrong.” That is very fitting as we go to the voting booth. Make your voice heard! Please go out and vote. Your vote matters.
Today we go back to June of 1968. It was the Summer of Love but America was deep into a war with Vietnam. We were a year away from putting a man on the moon and another Kennedy was running for President. Quite tragically, Bobby Kennedy, brother of John F. Kennedy, the slain POTUS, met with the same fate as his brother at the hands of Sirhan Sirhan in the ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Here is Jim Murray's observation upon hearing of the attack on Bobby Kennedy.
THURSDAY, JUNE 6, 1968, SPORTS
Copyright 1968/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY
The Violent States of America: A Nation in Surgery
LAKE TAHOE — I was going to write to you about fun and games today — a golf match on a sylvan lake, a track meet in a municipal amphitheater.
But once again America the Beautiful has taken a bullet in the groin. The country is in surgery. The Violent States of America. One bullet is mightier than one million votes.
It's not a Democracy, it's a Lunacy. A country that shrinks from punishing its criminals, disciplining its
children, locking up its mad. It's like an animal that disregards its senses. It's a lamb defending the lion's right to eat it.
Democracy is in the cross-hairs. The Assassination Party wins elections without going in a primary. The President of the United States is chosen in a hardware store, a mail order catalogue. We blame Dallas, but it's no good. It happens everywhere. Memphis. Los Angeles. The United States.
We quarantine the good, the reliable, the honest. We keep a 24-hour watch on the trustworthy, but get a habeas corpus to let anarchy loose.
Freedom is being gunned down. The "right" to murder is the ultimate right in this country. Sloth is a virtue. Patriotism is a sin. Conservation is an anachronism. God is over 30 years old. To be young is the only religion — as if it were a hard-won virtue. "Decency" is dirty feet, a scorn for work. "Love" is something you need penicillin for. "Love" is handing a flower to a naked young man with vermin in his hair while your mother sits home with a broken heart. You "love" strangers, not parents.
I will be severely criticized, even ridiculed for crying out. "Lousy sportswriter, what does he know?" I can hear it said. "Who does he think he is, Paul Harvey?" "Fulton J. Murray" still others will sneer. This is the 20th Century, they will say, not Disneyland. Well, it's getting to look more like the Cave Man Era every day from this seat. Americans who have a podium should use it today.
I like people with curtains on the window, not people with "pads." The next guy that calls money "bread" should be paid off in whole wheat. I'm sick of being told I should try to "understand" evil. Should a canary "understand" a cat?
These are some of the things, it seems to me, that have put blood on the walls of America. The next funeral procession will be for the Republic itself. The American Dream will be rolling up Pennsylvania Avenue behind the roll of drums. It will be buried in Arlington. The Constitution was never conceived as a shield for degeneracy. You start out burning the flag and you end up burning Detroit. You do away with the death penalty for everyone but presidential candidates — and Presidents. The national symbol is not the eagle, it's the catafalque.
The point of the country is Fear. The rebellion is against good. Men of God become men of the Mob. The National Anthem is a scream in the night. Americans can't walk in their own parks, get on their own buses. They have to cage themselves.
"Get off your knees, America!" people cry, but it is ignored. Bare your teeth, they say. Threaten to fight back. The lion bares his teeth and the jackals slink away. A cowering animal invites attack. But America is not listening.
These are the things, it seems to me, that put a young senator, a servant of his people into the shadow of death. A young, vigorous country is immobilized by bumper stickers, slogans, neurotic students with their feet on desks they couldn't make, pulling down universities they wouldn't know how to rebuild.
It all begins with that, the deification of drifters, wastrels, poltroons — insolent guests at the gracious table of democracy overturning it on their dismayed hosts.
What have the Kennedys ever done to deserve ambuscades every five years at the hands of people they ask only to serve? What apology can we offer to a noble family except to resolve to stop being ruled by our refuse, our human refuse that is? How many good men have to die before we wrest weapons from the terrible hands of our barbarians, demand respect for our institutions, stop glorifying hate?
Pray God our healers can repair Bobby Kennedy. Who is going to repair America?
Reprinted with permission by the Los Angeles Times.
Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116
What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation?
The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation's efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.
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