The first week of April in 1968, America was shaken to its core when Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Bobby Kennedy were both assassinated.
King was killed in Tennessee by a white supremacist and Kennedy, by a mentally ill individual who hated what he stood for. This happened after Kennedy had just been announced the winner of the Democratic primary in California.
In the summer of 1968, both men had been criticized by both their movements and parties for the harsh stance they took against the war in Vietnam, as well as the institution of the draft. While Americans stood on either side of the fence in terms of these political decisions – unlike most nations throughout history where factionalism led to civil war, it was always the American tradition and mindset to settle these decisions through our lawmakers and in the courts so our country would not spiral into violence ever again.
The assassination of King and Kennedy would lead to a summer of violence throughout the country, with most historians pointing to the Chicago riots at the Democratic National Convention which appeared to have caused mass disenfranchisement in our political and law enforcement institutions.
Ultimately, the martyrdom of King and Bobby Kennedy still has an impact on American culture and our political fabric as a whole. We still speak of them and remember their messages of peace and civil dialogue with sincerity – yet often forget the names of the men who killed King and Kennedy would kill their ideas and the commitment of those who believed in those ideas.
Libertarians believe and practice a non-aggression principle, and believe that no act of force, violence, or coercion should ever be used to obtain political power and influence. This non-aggression principle leads and intertwines itself into the rest of the libertarian ethic as a whole since the focus of liberty derives and is powered by the power of the individual, crafted by their creator with inalienable rights.
History shows that all movements rooted in violence and goals obtained only through violent means ultimately end by their own hand. The legacies of King and Kennedy remind us years later that peace is a stronger unifier than fear, and love is a larger motivator than hatred. Only those that understand this can be depended on to maintain the free society we all cherish and hope to expand to other areas of life.