Friday, 6 December 2013


Maybe everyone else knows about Richard Paul Pavlick. I hadn't heard of him till last week's Slate Political Gabfest.

He was a retired postman who decided to suicide-bomb JFK when JFK was President-elect. He pulled up outside JFK's house. He had a car full of dynamite. But JFK's wife and children came out with him that day so Pavlick decided to wait until he got a clearer chance. Because he had been sending ranty postcards, and because the police finally caught up with him a few days later, Pavlick didn't succeed.

Gosh. I kind of place my trust in Stephen Sondheim for all information regarding assassins and would-be assassins. It's incredible that this guy missed the cut.

Nelson Mandela: when I was growing up, I lived in Conservative heartland south of England. Moreover, remember the IRA and the lived reality of regular domestic terrorism, which people seem unable to. Mandela was easy to paint as a terrorist. When I was a student, I studied South Africa quite deeply. Under those circumstances, you end up focusing on the equivocations and the feet-of-clay of traditionally Great Men. You get used to the excuses they make for morally dubious decisions like using violence.

This was the background to my reading A Long Walk to Freedom. I came away from it thinking that Mandela was amazing.

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