Kirk Douglas died Feb. 5 at age 103. Quite an obituary. Talk about humble beginnings. It was noted that Douglas stood up in the 1950s for blacklisted screenwriters like Dalton Trumbo – who wrote not only “Spartacus” but also “Roman Holiday,” “Exodus” and many other great films.

Douglas said: “Everybody advised me not to do (‘Spartacus’) because ‘you won’t be able to work in this town again’ and all of that.” But he did anyway – in spite of all the clandestine threats and intimidation. You’ll recall the classic scene where the slaves, gathered together on the rustic hillside and threatened with crucifixion, are spared their lives – if only they give up Spartacus. One by one, they all stand up and shout, “I’m Spartacus!” – “I’m Spartacus!” Courage and camaraderie, that.  Douglas, as the scene ends, sheds a tear.

On Feb. 5, U.S. senators, Republicans and Democrats alike, gathered together in the majestic senate chambers, had the opportunity to stand up against the illegal and unwarranted abuse of power by the emperor (or so he thinks he is) and in essence say: “I’m Spartacus!”  To their great credit, Mitt Romney and Angus King stood – among others.

In my view, courage, justice – and a piece of the republic for which we stand – died Feb. 5, when too many senators, fearing whoever – or the idea that they’d never be able to work in this town again – and probably shouldn’t – voted “not guilty.”

Join me as I shed a tear today for the nation, and for Kirk Douglas.

Buddy Doyle


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