This morning we were devastated by the news that Senator Ted Kennedy, the “Liberal Lion of the Senate”, died of brain cancer late last night at age 77. Kennedy accomplished a lot during his lifetime and was an advocate for women’s rights and access to reproductive health. Mass NOW released this statement on Kennedy’s death:
Senator Kennedy’s work in the Senate was unparalleled in both its scope and impact. He dedicated his life to bringing justice to the most disenfranchised members of our society, and was unwavering in his belief of equality for all people. The Senator led countless initiatives that positively changed the lives of women and girls in Massachusetts and across the country. Mass. NOW is forever indebted to Senator Kennedy for being an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, a staunch proponent of Title IX, and a leader in the recent passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Without Kennedy’s work on the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, women and girls would not enjoy the rights that we do today. Mass. NOW is devastated by the loss of such a powerful champion for women’s and civil rights, and his expertise, enthusiasm, and influence will be sorely missed.
However while it is important to remember and commemorate all of the positive contributions that Kennedy made, it is also important to not elevate him on a pedestal and forget to be critical of his accomplishments and his legacy. Here’s some reading that casts a more critical eye on Kennedy:
From Shakesville: Teddy:
Senator Edward Kennedy was a tough guy. He was smart, tenacious, opinionated, strong in body, mind, and spirit. And I think because he was such a tough guy, he won’t mind if I don’t share my real and uncensored thoughts on the occasion of his passing.
Teddy, as he was known, was privileged, in every sense of the word. And he made liberal use of his privilege, in ways I admired and ways I did not. The terrible bargain we all seem to have made with Teddy is that we overlooked the occasions when he invoked his privilege as a powerful and well-connected man from a prominent family, because of the career he made using that same privilege to try to make the world a better place for the people dealt a different lot.
From Recursiveparadox: Bros Before Hos: A Post Ted Kennedy Story:
Ever heard the name Mary Jo Kopechne? No? What about the second run of the GLBT ENDA? No for that too?
Well then boys and girls and all those who break out of the binary, I’ve got some stories to tell you. Let’s start with Mary Jo Kopechne. She was a teacher and speechwriter/secretary for several politicians, including Robert Kennedy. She was also part of the fondly remembered Boiler Room Girls, a tough set of ladies who played a vital (even central) role in gaining campaign intel, crunching numbers and advising for Robert’s campaign.
She was a politically saavy, smart, demure woman. Someone you could really admire. She was also tough. Even with how much it hurt her when Robert Kennedy was assassinated, she still jumped back into politics. (further reading on her)
From Daisy’s Dead Air: More on Ted Kennedy:
I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS.
If I see one more liberal and/or feminist (!) blog talking about the late Senator Edward Kennedy as some kinda righteous man, I’m gonna spew.
Here at DEAD AIR, we calls em like we sees em, and rich drunks who let women die agonizingly-slow deaths rather than tarnish their reputations or make daddy mad, are not mourned, regardless of their politics. REGARDLESS.