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Robert F. Kennedy

Today is the 40th Anniversary of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. I grew up in a Boston suburb in the congressional district next to the one that sent John F. Kennedy to congress so as you can imagine the Kennedys and the tragedies the Kennedy family suffered were a big part of my childhood. I was ten when JFK was shot; 15 when RFK was shot--40 years ago today.

Although Bobby Kennedy is widely known for being against the Viet Nam War, he also spoke out against draft deferments. In 1968 he told college students from white middle-class families they were letting poor kids serve and die in their place. Kennedy got booed for telling that bit of the truth, but he said it.

Many of the college students who got deferments and let someone else serve in their place have remained consistently anti-war. I disagree with them, but I respect their position. But I can't understand how a man who let another man serve in his place, maybe die in his place (The draft, for those who don't remember, only called up men.) can be known as patriots today. A man who is a Chicken Hawk should not be on the radio or TV cheering as new generations go off to war. Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, for example, could have served and did not. The draft was a zero-sum game. When someone got a deferment, the next kid got called up. Limbaugh and O'Reilly avoided the draft so someone else served in their place. Bobby Kennedy spoke out against draft dodgers when he lived. On this 40th anniversary of RFK's death, it is important to remember that RFK was against the war, but also was against those who would use the "Wrong War" justification to let someone else serve in their place.

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