From Camelot to . . . Thugalot

by Rev. Peter E. Bauer

The Lerner and Loewe musical Camelot premiered in 1960. I remember it well. As a child, I would listen to the musical cast album on our old turntable record player which we had in our home. Here are the lyrics:

A law was made a distant moon ago here:
 July and August cannot be too hot.
 And there’s a legal limit to the snow here
 In Camelot.
 The winter is forbidden till December
 And exits March the second on the dot.
 By order, summer lingers through September
 In Camelot.

This sentiment spoke of an idyllic time. The musical was based upon the legend of King Arthur. As a child growing up in the 1960’s the whole image of Camelot became associated with the Kennedy Administration.

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and the First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and their children Caroline and John Jr. were a young attractive family. They were smart, witty, poised and gave an impression that they were capable of leading. John Kennedy surrounded himself with “ the best and the brightest “ of advisors: Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, etc.

Kennedy was also someone who believed in working with legislators in crafting effective legislation as a result of dialogue and compromise. He was fond of the adage, “Come, let us reason together.”

The Kennedy Administration did experiences its challenges and limitations i.e. with the Bay of Pigs invasion, not aggressively pursuing voter rights legislation for African-Americans etc.

Yet, the Kennedy Administration projected optimism by its support of the Space Program, etc. You felt at that time that anything was possible in terms of improvement for the country.

Fast forward the tape 50 years and we are now in our present era. This time could be described as anything but Camelot. Instead, of idyllic optimism, we have worry, concern and fear. We have a leader who tweets pronouncements and pontifications, someone who bristles at any criticism. Someone who believes in hitting harder at any detractors. Someone who has a challenged relationship with right and wrong and objectivity. The advisors to this leader scurry about and talk about alternative facts and even make comments like “I’m not in the job of having evidence, that’s what investigations are for.” — Kellyanne Conway on Surveillance.

Somehow, I can’t picture President Kennedy saying anything quite like this in public. The stark contrast between this reality and what was happening 50 years ago is quite dramatic.

Now we have the era of “Thugalot,” which is reminiscent of The Sopranos. Do everything you can to avoid reality and always be on the attack. Now we are after immigrants, everyone is a suspect including a Canadian church group that wants to help residents in Central New Jersey whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Where is the charity here ? Where is the sanity ?

Whatever happened to “Come, let us reason together?!”

I think once again about that famous portrait of President Kennedy looking downward and brooding and thinking. I miss that a whole lot. Somehow, that image gave me confidence and the feeling that we would be all right as a country.

Right now, I feel anything but confident regarding our country. The current leadership has displayed a constant, swift, arrogant and dangerous course of achieving its stated objectives.

It’s not Camelot.

This is more like Roller Derby on steroids.

One can only hope and pray that we can survive all of this and remain intact and refocus back regarding what we are known for that being respect, support, advocacy and charity for all.

May it be so.

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