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A Boston Irishman’s Perspective on the Kennedys

Posted by Larry Doyle on January 19, 2010 3:10 PM |

Maintaining our theme for the day of Massachusetts politics, I feel compelled to address my thoughts and perspectives on the Kennedy legacy.

When I moved to New York in the early ’80s after having graduated from Holy Cross, I was struck by how many people instinctively viewed my Boston Irish Catholic upbringing as being supportive of the Kennedy royalty. Time and again, people assumed that this Irishman from Boston must have been a big supporter of the Kennedy political dynasty. I would typically refrain from commenting and get back to trading bonds.

At one point, though, I distinctly recall telling a colleague that I had anything but respect for the Kennedys. He was flabbergasted.

I fully acknowledge and respect the work that Jack Kennedy and his brothers Bobby and Ted did for our country in terms of civil rights and helping improve the human condition. I specifically admire the work that Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her family have done to support the Special Olympics. That said, I never identified nor truly respected the Kennedys. Why?

Growing up in a large Irish Catholic family within the Boston city limits, my 6 brothers and I played street hockey. The Kennedys sailed. We went to one of the best public high schools in the country, Boston Latin School, and then on to College of the Holy Cross (two black sheep went to Middlebury College). The Kennedys were private school preppies before going to Harvard.

While our background and upbringing were reason enough not to identify with the Kennedys, my views of the Kennedys were truly determined by deeper feelings, including:

1. We were taught to respect women in every regard. Evidence and examples of Kennedy shortcomings on this front are too numerous to mention.

2. We were taught that we not only attended church on Sundays but we were to live our faith throughout the week.

3. We were taught that you always play by the rules.

4. We were taught that you are known by the company you keep. Joe Kennedy’s relationships with organized crime figures are legendary.

5. We were taught that the worst thing you can embody and convey is a sense of entitlement. This speaks for itself.

I know that it is not my position to judge lest I be judged. I also know that human nature being what it is, I will only direct respect to those whom I deem worthy of it.

The Kennedys may be America’s royal family, but I choose to pay my homage elsewhere.


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