The shooting of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, in a land that earlier witnessed the assassination of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, and then of the Negro crusader Dr. Martin Luther King, is further evidence that the American dream is turning into a nightmare. The stunning shock will serve the nation best if the initial disbelief yields a new awareness that the American temper is changing. “The world has gone mad,” remarked Senator Henry Jackson, when informed of the assault on Kennedy. But the grim fact that madness now stalks the streets from Washington to Los Angeles, in a land that long has been a symbol of hope around the world, compounds the tragedy. The worsening crime rate and widening violence in America can only add to the spirit of contemporary despair.

We extend Christian sympathy to the Kennedy family and urge the prayers of believers everywhere in their behalf.

Political assassination has an ancient if unpromising history, and the casualty risk for kings and politicians has often run high. But over against brute totalitarian powers, the contemporary free world prides itself upon rule by law and order, and by democratic processes.

The American trend signals three awesome elements:

1. A decline of confidence in reason and persuasion, and a reliance instead upon existential thrust and compulsion, is a conspicuous factor. Political demonstrations that are motivated by civil disobedience and that ignore available democratic processes in order to achieve coercive pressure and swift change have contributed to this mood. Many in the political arena today privately pray for law and order yet publicly identify themselves with those who seek rapid change by compulsion.

But what federal or state law in the United States, ...

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