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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 7/19/17

Levingston Revisits Kennedy and King (BOOK REVIEW)

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In any event, President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, by certain rogue elements in the government.

Concerning JFK's assassination, see James W. Douglass' book JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (2008) and Peter Janney's book Mary's Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace (2012).

Consequently, it remained for President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ; 1908-1973) to oversee the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, I give President Johnson an enormous amount of credit for those landmark civil rights legislative achievements. As a result of those legislative achievements, we are not likely ever to return to the Jim Crow laws and customs that prompted the black civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

Nevertheless, as part of the Cold War anti-communist hysteria, LBJ pursued war in Vietnam -- a war that the United States could not win. That ill-advised war prompted a massive anti-war movement. Dr. King spoke out against that war. Outrage against that war prompted LBJ not to seek re-election in 1968. Consequently, RFK entered the Democratic Party's presidential primary. Oddly, Levingston does not even mention that war or the anti-war movement or LBJ's decision not to seek re-election in 1968.

But MLK was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, and RFK was assassinated on June 6, 1968, in Los Angeles, California.

Levingston says, "America exploded that night [of April 4, 1968] with riots in 110 cities, leaving thirty-nine people dead and more than 2,500 injured" (page 434). Sadly, the violence involved in those riots did not honor MLK's message of non-violent resistance and protests. But the violence involved in those riots helped Nixon emerge victorious in 1968 -- and then win re-election in 1972, before the Watergate break in and cover-up finally led to his resignation in disgrace.

Non-violent resistance and protest may at times prompt coverage by the news media -- and may at times help prompt pro-social change.

But violence usually prompts coverage by the news media -- and typically prompts resistance to change. Dr. King understood this, which is why he advocated non-violent resistance and protest.

In summary, Livingston's book is well researched and accessible. He uses young Senator Kennedy's theme of political and moral courage as the framework for discussing JFK's own later response to the black civil rights movement.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
 

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