At this issue goes to press, Americans are shaking themselves in disbelief at violence that has once again erupted against the president. But despite their shock and outrage, most citizens reacted to the tragedy with maturity and understanding. Years ago President Truman pointed out that almost anyone could assassinate an American president if he didn’t mind dying in the attempt. It is the price we pay for living in a free and open society with an open presidency. No doubt some things need to be done: security could be tightened; gun control might help; court delays must be shortened; sentences should be more consistent; repeated criminals must be denied their freedom with long, perhaps life, sentences. But in a free society, we cannot eliminate the possibility of assassination. We simply do not want to give up our treasured freedom, our open society, and a president who mingles easily with the people—all values for which we have been willing to risk our president’s assassination. Granted these values, there is no way we can prevent a determined lunatic or a clever criminal from shooting the president.
In this issue, we join with all Jews in commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day. The genocidal murders by Hitler and his minions and the attempted assassination of the president of the United States by an isolated criminal or a demented man (whose personal moral responsibility only God can judge) are both tragedies; but there the similarity ends. The latter is the consequence of a deliberate choice on the part of the American people and their president to preserve a certain style of government and social freedom; now we are sad and question our corporate wisdom. The former is the product of ugly hate fostered over generations. ...1
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