I do not often comment on the extracurricular activities of the professors in my department, but after coming across this Op-Ed today, I cannot help but speak out.
Democrats and Republicans alike paused last Thursday to remember the assassination of a great American politician, Robert F. Kennedy forty years ago, June 5, 1968. A powerful voice for democracy, liberty, civil rights, and responsible government, RFK was gunned down by disgruntled Palestinian émigré Sirhan Sirhan for his passionate support of the State of Israel.
One of our very own political science professors at Northwestern University, Stephen Kinzer, has taken this opportunity to very publicly draw an “eminently” wrong message from this tragedy in the pages of the UK’s Guardian newspaper. His thoughts?
Foreign interventions and entanglements often produce unpredictable, even unimaginable long-term consequences. The murder of Robert Kennedy is one example. If Israel had never come into existence, or if the United States had not supported it, or if Kennedy had not reaffirmed that support, Sirhan would probably never have pulled his trigger.
Ah, if only we had not stuck our neck out to support the only democracy and reliable ally we have in the Middle East, than we would still have a great man among us. Lesson learned: let’s draw this country into complete diplomatic and security isolation so that we never make the mistake of taking an unpopular position on anything.
How dare Robert Kennedy stand up for such an unpopular country! Clearly his insight gained from serving as a foreign correspondent for the Boston Globe on the eve of Israel’s independence in 1948 makes Kennedy the fool here. He deserved what he got, right Dr. Kinzer?
Yes, the Palestinian people have every reason to be angry, even furious, at the lot history has thrown them. But the answer to international terrorism is not to concede to its demands, curl up in a ball, and hope the mean and angry people slink away. American support for Israel is not to blame for the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, Sirhan Sirhan is.
The moment we relieve these killers of their responsibility for their own actions is the same moment we give them complete rhetorical license to do what they will whenever this country takes a policy stand with which they disagree. To me, Kinzer’s position is more concerning than all the “unpredictable” consequences of foreign intervention combined if only because the consequences of his position are all the more predictable.