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Violence was wrong then; it is wrong now

Uncle Sam
Last weekend I watched "Bobby," and while I agree with the IMDB.com critic who said it should have been called "Waiting for Bobby," the last 10 minutes, which wove actual documentary footage of the events in the Ambassador Hotel back in June 1968 with the fictional film stories, were profoundly moving. I sat with tears streaming down my face as I listened to the words Bobby Kennedy spoke the day after Martin Luther King was assassinated; the heartfelt and eloquent speech of April 5, 1968, in which he talks of "the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives."

Forty years later, Kennedy's words ring true; unfortunately, with more relevance than ever.

When you have pastors like Steven Anderson and Wiley Drake praying for the president's death and media figures like Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh stirring the pot of hate, is it any wonder that the number of presidential death threats has increased 400 percent over those received by the previous incumbent?

Last weekend, a poll showed up on the social networking site Facebook asking if the president should be assassinated. Possible answers were: "Yes," "Maybe," "If he cuts my healthcare," and "No." The third party application that allowed users to construct their own polls has now been disabled and the Secret Service is investigating.

Meanwhile the FBI is investigating the death of part-time census worker William Sparkman, whose body was found hanging from a tree in a Kentucky graveyard with the word "Fed" scrawled across his chest.

In interviews with Politico, five former Secret Service, FBI and CIA officers expressed concern that the current climate of "supercharged political vitriol" could lead to violence.

I met Sen. Chris Dodd for the first time recently, and he was asked about disturbing signs seen at Connecticut Tea Party protests. "It is a scary time for people "¦ they are worried "¦ frightened "¦ and we have people out there fanning those flames," he said.

"Fear and anger are the easiest emotions to arouse; the more difficult ones are the better angels'; those are the hard ones to bring up and sustain, particularly when things are going south on you. "¦ I'm less inclined to fault someone who's out there [protesting] than I am those major media outlets who seem to revel in it and add to it and throw fuel on it every night. "¦ We are a very civilized people, but we've seen historically civilized people' do some unimaginable things as societies."

As I sat in synagogue Monday, I prayed for our country, and wondered if it's possible to bridge the divide, to step back from the madness. I must believe so, because without hope, one can't go on.

But the words of Bobby Kennedy still ring in my ears and my heart:

"What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet.

"No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.

"Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily -- whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence -- whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded."

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Uncle Sam
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