TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — All Must (Not) Hail The King

When I watched MSNBC’s special Sunday on Robert F. Kennedy, I candidly admit my tear ducts flowed.

Chris Matthews hosted the documentary, which included footage of Kennedy’s visiting Appalachia and the poorest of the poor. I was reminded that here was a wealthy man who concentrated on assisting those in the greatest need.

A member of a large family himself, Bobby gave of his time to visit with, work with and help young people. He gave of himself to help African-American people most in need. He cared about those who were, and are, deprived of wealth, opportunity and education by a racist nation.

While most coverage centered on problems in the South, it was obvious that bigotry and greed showed their ugly faces in all parts of the country.

I know this means I’ll be called liberal by some, conservative by others. Either way, my admiration of politicians is usually aimed at those who help people in need — regardless of race, color, creed or political party.

When Martin Luther King was arrested, it was RFK, the U.S. attorney general, who effected his release. When King was assassinated, it was Kennedy who spoke to a shocked crowd. He reminded them that he knew how they felt because a white man had murdered his own brother. That went a long way toward keeping the lid on demonstrations that night.

King was killed on my birthday anniversary, April 4, 1968. President Kennedy was killed on my mother’s birthday, Nov. 22,1963.

Much has been made of John F. Kennedy’s womanizing and the suggestion that he and brother, Bobby, had affairs with Marilyn Monroe. Robert obviously was the more moral of the two, but their personal affairs were consensual. Their wives forgave them, and that ought to be enough.

Today many try to equate President Trump’s womanizing to JFK and. Consent has an important meaning, even if the affair is immoral. It should never be confused with groping, raping and all nonconsensual actions by a man against a woman.

Bobby was killed while trying to get the United States out of Vietnam. Those in power knew that after the Tet Offensive, the U.S. military (which never lost a battle in Nam) literally decimated and destroyed the North Vietnamese forces. Unfortunately — or perhaps fortunately — so many American lives had been lost by that time that our country just wanted out, no matter the cost. To say that we lost that war is either misinformed or a damned lie. What is correct is to say that we left without victory.

So many factors today echo the problems of the 1960s. History seems to be repeating itself. We are in foreign wars with no end in sight — wars that ought to be fought by allies who live in those regions. If the draft had not ended 45 years ago, I believe the young people of today would be engaged in the same kind of nationwide anti-war protests. The creation of today’s professional military after the draft ended in 1973 prevented that.

Instead, the youth of today are marching in solidarity against politicians who care not what they think — politicians who are in the pocket of the NRA. Just as they did during the Vietnam-era protests, our youth are once again protesting death and mayhem in this country … inside our schools. If you think they’re going to stop, or that they won’t succeed, you’re overlooking their passion and intelligence.

As adults, we should be role models for our youth. As adults, our words should be considered and thoughtful. As adults, we should provide promise and opportunities to our youth.

The current occupant of the White House believes he is above the law and cannot be held accountable. He has gone so far as to say that if he’s convicted of crimes, he could use his presidential powers to pardon himself. So far, our Congress has lacked the courage to speak out on this issue.

Our freedom is based on three separate but co-equal branches of government — the presidency and executive branch, Congress and the judicial system. The president claims he is above the law. Congress to date has allowed him to be unfettered. It’s up to the judicial system to ultimately restore civility to this country.

I have never been prouder of the actions of some attorneys than I am today — but have never been more disappointed that bar associations across this country have not taken up political arms to address unethical behavior by some of the attorneys employed by the president.

When you knowingly lie, never recant and refuse to admit your errors, you are a liar. That is true of every American, but especially so of lawyers. It appears that our nation’s capital can use a clean-up. So, too, can many state and local communities. Today more than ever, if you think your vote will not count — and you fail to cast it — you deserve what we all will get. Amen.

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Tom Davies

Judge Tom Davies wielded the gavel in Fargo's Municipal Court for nearly 40 years, the longest term of any elected official in the city's history, until health problems forced his retirement in 2012. Born in Grand Forks, the UND business and law graduate has lived in Fargo since 1956, when his father, Ronald Davies, was appointed a federal judge. The outspoken, irreverent jurist remains an insatiable consumer of news, sharing his observations in Moorhead's weekly newspaper, The Extra … and now here on the Fish blog. As a child, Davies delivered the Grand Forks Herald and sold them on the street corner.

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