NORTH ADAMS — Early in 1968, Clyde Tolson, F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover's deputy and bosom buddy, a key player in the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., expressed both the hope and intent of those making sure that there would never be another president by the name Kennedy, when he said about RFK that "I hope someone shoots and kills the son of a bitch." Earlier, as reported by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in his new book, "American Values: Lessons I Learned from My Family," the influential conservative Westbrook Pegler expressed this hope even more depravingly when he wished "that some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter [Robert Kennedy's] spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow flies."

These sick men were not alone. Sen. Robert Kennedy was a marked man. And he knew it. That he was nevertheless willing to stand up to the forces of hate and violence that were killing innocents at home and abroad is a testimony to his incredible courage and love of country. To honor such a man requires that we discover and speak the truth about those who killed him. The propaganda that he was killed by a crazed young Arab needs exposure.

Revealing recording

While many people are aware that President John Kennedy was killed five years earlier in a conspiracy organized by U.S. intelligence operatives and that Lee Harvey Oswald was the "patsy" that he said he was, far fewer realize that Robert Kennedy was also killed as a result of a government conspiracy and that the convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan did not kill RFK. In fact, not one bullet from his gun struck the senator.

Sirhan was standing in front of Kennedy when, as the autopsy definitively showed, RFK was shot from the rear at point blank range, three bullets entering his body, with the fatal head-shot coming upward at a 45 degree angle from 1-3 inches behind his right ear. In addition, an audio recording shows that many more bullets than the eight in Sirhan's gun were fired in the hotel pantry that night. It was impossible for Sirhan to have killed RFK. Nor, of course, was Sirhan capable of conducting an extensive law enforcement cover-up.

Robert F. Kennedy's death, following as it did the assassination by U.S. government forces of Dr. Martin Luther King two months earlier, marked an emphatic end to the sense of hope that marked the election to the presidency of his brother John in 1960. Henceforth, efforts to change the political system from within became moot; the coup d' tat effected on Nov. 22, 1963 with the CIA's assassination of JFK was signed and sealed.

RFK's murder added the period to this sentence of rule by murderous deep state forces. And despite valiant efforts of dissent from outside the system since, the systemic war machine has rolled on through Democratic and Republican administrations and the economic stranglehold of the elites has tightened over the decades. An RFK presidency was this country's last chance from within to save itself from the tyranny that has ensued.

Fifty years have passed since RFK's murder, and for those 50 years very few Americans have thought to question what is a conspicuous conspiracy. It is as though a painful exhaustion or a veil of denial set in in 1968, a year when war, chaos, and murderous mayhem prevailed. For all these years all most people "know" is that RFK was assassinated by a crazy Arab guy. His name? Oh yeah, Sirhan Sirhan or something like that. It was so long ago and, anyway, it doesn't matter anymore.

But it does matter greatly. Unless we choose to remain children forever, children in denial of the truth of their childhood traumas, the truth about RFK's murder will haunt us and poison any hope we still might harbor for our country. Killers seized the levers of power with the murders of JFK, MLK, and RFK (and Malcolm X, Thomas Merton, et al.), and they have never relinquished them.

It is time that each of us decides: Do we stand with the killers or their victims?

Finally a Kennedy family member has spoken out on the case. As reported by Tom Jackman in The Washington Post, May 27, Robert f. Kennedy, Jr., after studying the case at the instigation of Paul Schrade, RFK's assistant, who was the first person shot that night, and visiting Sirhan in prison, has publicly said that he doesn't think Sirhan killed his father and has called for a reinvestigation of the case, a most mild request. Who will do the reinvestigation? The authorities in the government and press that have covered up the truth for 50 years? Nevertheless, Jackman's article and RFK, Jr.'s statement bring needed attention to the assassination while focusing on the fact of a second gunman and therefore a conspiracy.

Honor a true patriot

If one objectively studies the assassination of Sen. Kennedy, as has his son, one cannot but conclude there was a government conspiracy and that Sirhan is not guilty. That much is not particularly complicated, although many people not familiar with the facts of the case may think otherwise.

Robert Kennedy, like his brother John, was a great danger to virulent forces of war and oppression within his own government, and he died opposing them as a true patriot.

If we wish to honor him, we are obligated to pursue the truth of why he died and why it still matters. No government agency will ever do that for us. Fifty years of silence must be ended, and it up to us.

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Berkshire Community College. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/