William Bulger grew up in a time when values were quite different than they are today. Loyalty was highly regarded in most circles. William is guilty. He is guilty of loyalty to his brother Whitey.
Both brothers grew up in poverty in a South Boston housing project. Other than that, their paths were extremely diverse. Whitey succumbed to the pressures of the streets while William overcame them.
In today’s world, loyalty is a dying virtue and it is refreshing to watch a man risk all he has honestly worked for to protect his brother. In these trying times snitchery and turncoating to save one’s own skin has become an art.
The corporate raiders who savaged the retirement funds of the workers of Enron had no sense of loyalty toward those whom they were positioned to protect. What a difference, also, between the spilling of the Bill Clinton story and the tale of John F. Kennedy and his intern.
While everyone today is willing to fill in all the sordid details for personal gain, the other side of that story is the respectable silence, the honorable discretion of Kennedy’s lover as opposed to the story of Monica Lewinsky who just can’t keep her mouth shut.
In the new millennium, betrayal is the code word. No more are loyal workers respected by their employers. Lovers can’t wait to kiss and tell. It is expected that all men are willing to turn their brothers over to the system; family ties are meaningless.
William Bulger has committed himself to a lifetime of service for the people of Massachusetts. Has he received the financial benefits for his years of service? Of course he has. These remunerations are not excessive and are well-deserved.
He is a tough man who rose to his current position by dint of hard work and sacrifice. His heart aches for the plight and mistakes of his brother Whitey Bulger. If he could have done something to change the course of Whitey’s life, he certainly would have. He tried. But we are all powerless over the actions of other people. All we can do is the next right thing ourselves, in accordance to our own values.
Mitt Romney, one of William’s detractors, never had to struggle out of poverty. Neither did former Attorney General Thomas Reilly. Are these two men who would turn in their brothers? What does loyalty mean to a corporate raider who spent his entire life working for his own gain?
The tale of William and Whitey Bulger, two brothers from the projects of South Boston, is a modern tragedy. The sins of one brother threaten to discredit the accomplishments of the other. William was the hard-working President of the University of Massachusetts; Whitey was a mobster on the run. William Bulger’s only crime is that he loves his brother and has a sense of honor that our current society does not share.
In Massachusetts, we are fortunate to have benefitted from the public service of William Bulger in all the positions of State he has held. Let us hope he receives the respect he is due and is not witch-hunted out of his accomplishments for his brother’s misdeeds.
“I do have an honest loyalty to my brother, and I care about him, and I know that’s not welcome news, but . . .it’s my hope that I’m never helpful to anyone against him,” William Bulger testified.
Whitey Bulger is caught now, in steel and stone and chains in the world of the snitch, and yet he is still not crushed.
Two brothers, William and Whitey, both accomplished and hardened in their own individual ways. Let God stand judgement on the two; no human in today’s world can do it.
Please Note: Part of this appeared in the Boston Metro on June 10, 2003. It has been altered to meet the current times.