Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Times, They Are A-Changed

In Forty Five Years, bmaz describes his experience of the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated:

I can't remember what subject we were working on, but the principal's voice suddenly came over the loudspeaker. This alone meant there was something important up, because that only usually occurred for morning announcements at the start of the school day and for special occasions. The voice of Mr. Flake, the principal, was somber, halting and different; perhaps detached is the word. There was a prelude to the effect that this was a serious moment and that the teachers should make sure that all students were at their desks and that all, both young and old, were to pay attention.

There had occurred a tragic and shocking event that we all needed to know about. Out attention was required.

Then the hammer fell and our world literally caved in.

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been assassinated. Shot and killed in Dallas Texas. Then without a moment's pause, we were told that the nation was safe, Vice-President Johnson was in charge, the government was functioning and that we need not have any concerns about our own safety. We were not at war.

Twenty four some odd little hearts stopped, plus one from Mrs. Hollingshead. You could literally feel the life being sucked out of the room like air lost to a vacuum. Many of us began looking out the window, because no matter what Mr. Flake said, if our President was dead, we were at war and the warheads were coming. They had to be in the sky. They were going to be there.

Then the hammer fell and our world literally caved in.

Can you imagine the nation feeling that way if President George W. Bush were assassinated? I'm sure some of the authoritarian Right would have that reaction. Even some of the progressive Left would be worried about civil unrest (not to mention the prospect of President Dick "Go F*ck Yourself" Cheney).

But no significant portion of the population would be worried about warheads or tanks coming. I don't think any substantial portion of the population would be worried about America's survival (indeed -- some might be relieved). If someday President Barack Obama is assassinated (a prospect that seems frighteningly possible), the political response will reverse sides and I suspect there will be more upset, but still no one will be worried about warheads flying or about the survival of the nation.

The times, they are a-changed.