Nation Faces Challenge of Peddlers of Hatred

Published: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 - 12:24 pm

Originally published in The Bee on Nov. 23, 1963

Even in their deepest grief the widow and the fatherless must turn from the new grave and make their way back to life and to the living, to the things they understand and to the lives they must reshape.

So it is to the nation and its hour of grief over the death of its young and dynamic president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who in the best moments revealed grand flashes of genius and in his moments of error was supremely human.

We are absorbed our lives long with the miracle of living and as with all things strange and secret we are reluctant to let it go. We are reluctant, now, to let it go -- but we must.

What remains for us to do is to ponder upon what triggered this monstrous crime against a man and a people and against the institutions to which he and they were and are pledged and dedicated.

In the age of Lincoln the fanatics shouted "Death to all tyrants." And Lincoln was assassinated. Hate had worked its evil sway.

In the age of Kennedy there are new hucksters of hate, leftist and rightist, and the passions of the emotional and the easily led with their cries for impeachment of a president and chief justice [Earl Warren], their chants of "Viva Castro," "imperialists" and "war mongers," or with their foul lies about fancies evil designs.

They have turned a land where free speech is so preciously held it is given, as freely and as well, to the hate merchants as to the patriots, into a society where we are beginning to suspect each other and are building fences against imagined predators and trespassers.

This was the climate which produced the assassin who munched fried chicken while he waited for the president's car to appear.

In the name of the grand freedoms we cherish so preciously, and for which the late president spoke so forcefully, what are we doing to ourselves?

The young president had stood that January 2oth almost three years ago, his head bare before the chill Potomac wind, and he had said in an inaugural address that will live through the ages, let all sides explore what problems unite them instead of belaboring those problems that divide them.

In his name, we should turn to this challenge.

Now the problems of the presidency fall upon Lyndon B. Johnson.

They are enormous. Abroad, old alliances need new attention. A fluctuating Russia changes its course almost daily. We are engaged in life and death struggle for the uncommitted peoples of the world and our future may rise and fall on our success in this.

At home, we are witnessing a new age of evolution in our domestic programs and in our assessment of education and health and the economy.

The problems indeed are grave but so were the problems faced by another Johnson -- Andrew, who succeeded Lincoln 98 years ago.

Now the nation must unite behind President Johnson And we must ask: Is he safer from the hate peddlers than was Kennedy?

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