Re: Kennedy and the No Nothings

From: Caroline Koebel (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Sep 03 2009 - 13:18:56 PDT


Sifting through a backlog of Frameworks posts, I had to pause and read this
one leisurely. Thanks to both you and John for sharing. I don't know who
the other politicians are today who can match Ted Kennedy in the tenacity
and courage he exhibited over his tenure as a Senator. With the
assassinations of his big brothers (and WWII death of the oldest) I can only
imagine that he had such a thick skin as a partial result of feeling like
"there's nothing left to lose" (to quote a musical icon). He did not cower.

When TK died I was by coincidence in Massachusetts (the state of my early
childhood/earliest memories) and on Thursday boarded a flight to my new home
of Austin, TX with the Boston Globe and the New York Times under my arm.
Needless to say, while reading the papers I had to don my Jackie O glasses
at pointed intervals--like when telling the flight attendant if I wanted
animal crackers or blue potato chips.

The next day in Texas I found myself at a store with a sign out front saying
that parking was only for that store and for "T. Kennedy." I commented to
the shopkeeper that I appreciated the symbolic tribute to TK and that I had
in fact just come from Mass. and was new to Texas and wasn't certain what
the dialogue about the Senator's death would be in this part of the country.
I was a little surprised that he didn't say much in reply. Then upon leaving
I noticed that a store existed right next door called "T. Kennedy." Oops.

I was wrong, but looking at it another way, parking only for the late TK did
exist if only for the expanse of time between my going into and coming out
of the store. That's better than not at all.


On Sun, Aug 30, 2009 at 4:34 PM, DOMINIC ANGERAME <
email suppressed> wrote:

> For the romantics. Here is an email from a good friend of mine. Whether it
> be the no nothings or the knew nothings.
> Dear friends,
> I heard of Teddy's death on CNN in my Helsinki hotel room. My connections
> to the Kennedy brothers -- Jack, Bobby, and Teddy -- come from a shared
> Boston Irish heritage. JFK was my first political hero. In 1946 he ran for
> Congress as a legitimate war hero to represent the part of Boston where I
> grew up. My sisters, like so many other young women, swooned over his
> handsome looks. He always had their votes. I can remember his delivering
> the Fourth of July (my birthday) speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia
> in 1961.
> The Kennedys symbolized the rise of the Boston Irish to political power and
> economic success. It began in the early 20th century with the election of
> "Sunny Fitz" [Fitzgerald], Ted's maternal grandfather, as one of the first
> Irish mayors of Boston. Up to then the "Yankees" [the Protestant
> descendents of the Puritans and Anglicans] dominated the political and
> business life of the city. They did not welcome the hoards of impoverished
> and barely literate refugees from the Irish Famine [1846-48] and the
> thousands more that came in their wake.
> The extremist "The Know Nothings" burned Catholic churches and convents and
> drove priests out of the state. In the public schools, students were taught
> that the Pope was the Anti-Christ. It took decades to break the Yankees'
> dominance. No concessions were granted. Getting the right to vote and just
> wages for work was a long struggle.
> There's a saying, that to be Irish is to have your heart broken. For me
> that came with the assassinations of John and Bobby. JFK and his brothers
> showed me that education (and some money) meant that I didn't have to repeat
> the ways my parents (and the way the many generations of dirt-poor farmers
> in Ireland before them lived).
> Teddy was no saint. (Who is?) He drank too much at times and chased after
> too many women. But he was at the center of almost every progressive action
> for almost 50 years, from civil rights in the South and integrating the
> public schools in Boston to opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He
> long worked for health care reform -- a goal which still eludes this
> country.
> Each of you knows what it is to be defamed and unjustly treated solely
> because of your heritage and who you are. It's now ironic to think that
> some 19th century physical anthropologists said that the Irish weren't
> white, that is, equally human to Anglo-Saxons and other Northern Europeans
> and therefore not entitled to full citizenship and civil rights. They saw
> the Irish as a drunken priest-ridden incorrigible lot spawning too many
> children. How things have changed.
> RIP, Teddy.
> [As I write this note in France, I'm watching live the funeral services
> from Mission Church in Roxbury on a computer. This is the same church my
> mother brought me almost every Wednesday for a perpetual [i.e., never
> ending] novena service to seek relief from her many sorrows -- my father's
> and brother's drinking, my birth defect, etc. etc,]
> Peace,
> John Norton
> 444A 14th Street
> San Francisco, CA 94103
> 415-558-9066 (phone)
> 415-863-4158 (office/fax)
> jnorton100 (Skype)
> __________________________________________________________________ For
> info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.