FURTHER TRANSCRIPTIONS FROM SHEP’S JFK EULOGY
WHAT THAT WEEKEND MEANT TO SHEPHERD AND TO AMERICA.
All in Jean Shepherd’s words:
I think that one of the great problems that lies in America today in connection with the presidency and I can’t tell you how deeply I feel this is our current trend and it’s been going on for some years in this country, to lay the blame for all economic and social conditions at the feet of the president personally….
I have a feeling today that the only difference between the liberals and the right-wingers is that the liberals read the headlines from certain newspapers and the right-wingers read the headlines from other newspapers. Hardly any of them read the stories….
Tonight I have a feeling inside of me that is a great sense of—apprehension, I suppose you might say—a kind of feeling of—I hate to say fear because it’s not that clearly defined. It’s kind of a free-floating thing—that the strange unreasonableness, the fanaticism—that brought about this unbelievable weekend—is not only still around but is slowly beginning to grow in this land….
You know, one of the things that I think that this thing taught us is [we’re] a nation of just walking-around men—just people trying to do the best they can. I wonder how many fanatics, watching the events of the last two days on television wondered whether they were right—wondered whether maybe something in their thinking was wrong. That it’s not that easy to solve problems. You don’t just shoot somebody, you don’t just demonstrate and that’ll take care of it. This is a subtle thing that’s happened to us and you know, I have a feeling that we will not know. In fact I wonder whether Americans ever will, and that includes me. I’m certainly not letting myself out—ever will now the full ramifications of what happened to us for the last four or five days….
[didn’t get job he wanted=went down and shot Garfield.] Perhaps this is because Americans and part and parcel it might be one of the more evil byproducts of the democratic system. That the democratic system often not only fosters individualism. It not only fosters things like idealism, but it also fosters selfishness. That many people confuse license with liberty.
We believe here in American and it comes up in every election—that if we elect the right man, somehow, all of the problems that are dogging the nation will be taken care of.
That it’s looking for that right man—that right man. Well, what you’re doing then, of course, is ignoring the fact that many of the problems that face America—and face all peoples all over the world are not necessarily solvable. They really are not. And if they are solvable, they can only be solved buy that long, slow, grinding passage of time and evolution. This is a very unpopular idea. A very unpopular idea. And one that could get you shot if you mentioned it. Nevertheless, this is faced by every president….
Today, more and more, we are beginning to believe in passion as a substitute for reason….I think there’s something growing in this country that is neither left nor right. It is the growing me-ism. And it’s a new kind of a political force. It’s the new, militant a-political man. He is a militant in his righteousness, who feels he is right. Who feels that he is more moral than all other people. Who feels that his inherent beauty—has caused him to transcend these poor people who believe in one system or the other.
Now this is perhaps a new kind of anarchism that’s growing, but eventually I have the feeling that in a few short years it will become a genuine political force.
November 20, 2013
This is the final post in this JFK series.