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Best Lost Voice

Bob Kaufman

When A. Robert “Bob” Kaufman, Baltimore’s best-known socialist, died in December at the age of 78, the obituary writers had a field day. He’d been a gadfly, a troublemaker, a crazy radical, and his own worst enemy. In the end, it doesn’t matter how people try to categorize Kaufman. In essence, he was a voice, one man offering dogmatic perspectives on the matters of our time, and he broadcast that voice as far and as loud as he could, pissing off many in the process. His polarizing role in local affairs is a reminder that being a vocal catalyst for discussion, no matter how polemical or shrill, is a fundamental service to society. It makes others reflect on where they stand, sort out their thoughts and beliefs, and prepare to enter the debate—even if they choose, in the end, to remain silent. Few dedicate their lives to making themselves such lightning rods for discussion or dissent. Thankfully, Bob did.

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