Pollak: The Obscenity of Paroling Sirhan Sirhan, Assassin of Robert F. Kennedy

Sirhan Sirhan (Keystone / Getty)
Keystone / Getty

Last week, a California parole board voted to allow the release of Sirhan Sirhan, the Palestinian immigrant to shot and killed Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY) immediately after he won the state’s crucial presidential primary in June 1968.

The decision to accept the parole board’s recommendation now goes to the governor — who could be Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), or a replacement, if Newsom loses the Sep. 14 recall election and does not decide on the parole before he leaves.

Early reports about the parole mentioned that members of the Kennedy family supported Sirhan Sirhan’s application. But far more members of the Kennedy family oppose it. The Los Angeles Times reports that they were shocked by the decision.

As they should be. Sirhan Sirhan murdered Kennedy in cold blood. In doing so, he deprived America of one of its great political heroes — a unique man who had grappled with the moral dilemmas of the age, and could have changed history.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy (Wikimedia Commons)

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy (Wikimedia Commons via John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.)

Kennedy was known as “ruthless” for his service as Attorney General in his brother’s administration, when he tackled the mob and the Communist Party. Over the course of the 1960s, he developed close bonds with civil rights leaders. In the wake of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968, he was the one political leader who could speak to both sides of the country’s racial divide. Running on an anti-war platform, he might have ended the Vietnam War sooner.

U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy holds two fingers up in a victory sign as he talks to campaign workers at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, Ca., June 5, 1968. He is flanked by his wife Ethel, left, and his California campaign manager, Jesse Unruh, speaker of the California Assembly. After making the speech, Kennedy left the platform and was assassinated in an adjacent room. (AP Photo)

That may or may not have been good. But Bobby Kennedy symbolized the hopes of the 1960s the way few others did, or could. In assassinating him, Sirhan Sirhan cast a shadow on American politics that has never quite been lifted ever since. He also inaugurated the era of Palestinian terror.

He has been in prison for more than half a century. He was lucky to escape the death penalty. Now, left-wing reformist zeal could see him released. But paroling him would be an obscenity.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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