yippies, peace protests, police & Pigasus the pig
August 17, 2003 12:20 AM   Subscribe

Chicago 1968 - This month marks 35 years since the infamous 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Hope was at a low ebb in the wake of a turbulent year that saw the assassinations of MLK and RFK. Peace activists and yippies took to the streets to protest the Viet Nam war and to nominate a pig for president. Police responded with shocking brutality. The ensuing Chicago Seven Trial was theatre of the absurd, with a colorful and prominent cast of characters. So what's changed in 35 years? Can next year's conventions be expected to generate outrage or apathy? - more -
posted by madamjujujive (25 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
What's changed?

Big business pushes porn into the mainstream
posted by mischief at 12:23 AM on August 17, 2003

Chicago 68 - a chronology

Richard Avendon photo of the Chicago Seven

Groovin in Chi, an account by Terry Southern featuring Jean Genet and William Burroughs

The whole world was watching - an oral history personal account

Police against photographer

The FBI's Secret Campaign Against the New Left - excerpt from a report on a Senate Committee probe
posted by madamjujujive at 12:24 AM on August 17, 2003

What's changed?

mischief hijacks thread for reasons unknown
posted by y2karl at 12:59 AM on August 17, 2003

madamjujujive, I think what's changed is "the conquest of cool" and the virtual disappearance of independent media. Protests can happen and do, but they don't get any traction because they get filtered through a system that skims off the issues and turns them into sideshows. The WTO protests were important if you were there. If you weren't, they became the WTO "riots" at which some violent lunatics who hate America just smashed up some businesses, and did it just because they're evil.

The web is helping to turn the tide and allow a non-corporate worldview to propagate once more -- but difficult as it is to believe for a web junkie such as thee and me, the web really isn't all that influential in America yet.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:19 AM on August 17, 2003 [1 favorite]

sweet fpp
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:00 AM on August 17, 2003

Hijacked how? She asked; I answered.

In case you haven't noticed a sexual revolution occurred during the 70s that continues to push the boundaries of acceptable sexual behavior. Hell, under the watch of one of the most conservative administrations ever, gay marriage has taken several giant strides forward, and it appears doubtful that any ground will be given back.
posted by mischief at 3:44 AM on August 17, 2003

I'd vote for apathy if I gave a shit.
posted by alumshubby at 6:15 AM on August 17, 2003

[good post] ...
A pig may have been nominated, but the election was won by a snake...
posted by plep at 6:34 AM on August 17, 2003 [1 favorite]

Right on! It's actually kinda rare that I take the time to read most of the material on a hydrapost like this, but this time I did, and it was worth it. I particularly enjoyed the trial transcripts. Thanks, mjjj.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:05 AM on August 17, 2003 [1 favorite]

The scene degenerated into such chaos that many Americans watching on television believed they were witnessing the end of the political process as they had known it.

I was one of those Americans, and I have had no reason to change my belief since. That was the single most formative year in my political development, and it's impossible for me to read about it without feeling an echo of the passions it caused. Great post, madam.
posted by languagehat at 7:24 AM on August 17, 2003 [1 favorite]

Those of us who demonstrated that year (myself not in Chicago but in New York) were the real swine. We desired and provoked police to attack us, and then, like the peasant character in "Holy Grail" whined "Look at the violence inherent in the system!" To the end of my life, I'll stand in awe of the tenderness of the establishment, our mothers and fathers, battlers against fascism in World War Two -- ended only 23 years earlier -- who did not gun us down like the anti-democratic, fascist, mob-rule loving dogs that we were. (In Mexico around that time, the government responded to similar protests simply by wheeling out the belt-fed machine guns and whaling away.) What did the Chicago demonstrators accomplish? They killed the chances that one of history's great liberals, Hubert Humphrey, would ever be president. They guaranteed the election of Richard Nixon by a landslide, and set the stage for Watergate, the bombing of Cambodia, and all that followed. What was so damned wrong with Hubert Humphrey that we hated him so much? The Chicago demonstrators got a little bump on the head or worse. But the fact that Nixon, rather than Humphrey, was elected president resulted in tens of thousands of deaths as the Vietnam War escalated and Cambodia was invaded. (If you believe Noam Chomsky, Nixon's bombing of Cambodia led directly to the ascendency of the Khmer Rouge and the massacre of millions of innocent Cambodians -- including the country's entire intellectual class. The Chicago demonstrators may very well have that genocide on their conscience.) Ralph Nader's effect on the Gore candidacy was nothing to what we -- the stinkin', know-nothing kids -- did to the Democratic party in '68. The trial of the Chicago 7 went nowhere, meant nothing, and was essentially a big circle jerk for everyone involved. It improved no lives, did nothing to make our legal system more just, and did not end poverty, inequality, or shorten the war in Vietnam by a single second. It was sheer perversity, the whole lot of it. May it never come back in any form.
posted by Faze at 8:31 AM on August 17, 2003

I actually once saw a guy in his 40's sitting in a bar wearing a t-shirt saying "Chicago Police Department/Democratic National Convention: We kicked your dad's ass and now we're gonna kick yours."

wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry, so I simply ordered another beer.
posted by jonmc at 8:33 AM on August 17, 2003

The 1960s: just another decade. Baby boomers: have another Cream of Wheat, curse the government for double crossing you on social security, and yell at those kids to get off your damn lawn.
Now if the rest of us can just convince you that euthanasia is a good thing...
posted by kablam at 9:29 AM on August 17, 2003

Next year's Sept 11 commemoration/Republican convention in NYC has the potential to get very ugly.
posted by muckster at 11:04 AM on August 17, 2003

Now if the rest of us can just convince you that euthanasia is a good thing...

your parents/grandparents first. lead on, kablam!
posted by quonsar at 12:25 PM on August 17, 2003

They guaranteed the election of Richard Nixon by a landslide...

The momentum gained by Humphrey in the closing weeks of the campaign was not sufficient to win. Nxion won a razor-thin popular vote victory with 43.42% to 42.72% for Humphrey and 13.53% for Wallace. Because Nixon carried the key states of California, Illinois and Ohio and Florida, he won more decisively in the Electoral College with 301 votes to 191 for Humphrey and 46 for Wallace.

I do recall, too, the Nixon campaign torpedoing the Paris Peace Talks, as well. Christopher Hitchens called Henry Kissinger a war criminal for his part in this. The word treason comes to mind as well. *Of course, allegations of similar meddling in negotiations were leveled against the Reagan campaign in 1980. Not that I detect a pattern here, oh no sirree....

In 1968 the Johnson Administration was conducting peace negotiations with the North Vietnamese aimed at bringing the war to an end. 1968 was however, also the year of the US Presidential elections and the Republican candidate, Richard Nixon, was fearful that a successful conclusion to the peace talks would damage his own chances of winning. Kissinger at the time was working as chief foreign policy advisor for Nelson Rockefeller and in this role had access to the peace talks. In the words of Richard Holdbrooke, a negotiator with the U.S. talks team:

Henry was the only person outside of the government we were authorised to discuss the negotiations with.We trusted him. It is not stretching the truth to say that the Nixon campaign had a secret source within the US negotiating team.

Kissinger, according to Hitchens, was able to warn Presidential candidate Nixon that the United States was proposing a bombing halt of North Vietnam. Nixon in turn counselled the South Vietnamese government to reject these terms, because if he won the Presidential election a better deal would be offered. So when Johnson ordered a bombing halt on the 31st October, the South Vietnamese responded by boycotting talks.Nixon was duly elected and Kissinger promoted within his Administration. The peace deal concluded in 1973, for which Kissinger was feted, was
almost exactly the same as that which had been offered in 1968. The cost in the intervening years was 20,000 U.S. lives lost in combat and in the words of Hitchens :

'It debauched the American republic and American democracy; and it levied a hideous toll of casualties on weaker and more vulnerable societies.'

Sexual laxity or knee jerk know nothing opinions on the stinkin' know nothin' kids--man, madamejujujive, the psychoceramicists were out last night.

That was the single most formative year in my political development, and it's impossible for me to read about it without feeling an echo of the passions it caused. Great post, madam.

Hear, hear: 1968 was the annus horribilis. Great post.
posted by y2karl at 1:06 PM on August 17, 2003 [1 favorite]

1968 was also the year I entered this world - Lucky me, all the "On the day/year you were born" factoids relate to the horrible Tet Offensive, assassinations and other afore-mentioned chaos.
posted by kokogiak at 2:16 PM on August 17, 2003 [1 favorite]

I'll stand in awe of the tenderness of the establishment

*looks sidelong at Faze, all by himself over there standing in awe of the tenderness of the establishment*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:47 PM on August 17, 2003 [1 favorite]

The establishment is alternately laughable and horrifying. But then again, so is the opposition.

This isn't disaffected posturing, merely the conclusion I keep arriving at. I'll get disgusted with those currently running things and want to throw my weight behind those who oppose him and then I realize taht I wouldn't want to live in a world run by them either.

This will all only end when we realize that we don't need leaders. Lead yourself, people and let all the power hungry bastards go fuck themselves.
posted by jonmc at 6:01 PM on August 17, 2003 [1 favorite]

hey, you peace-loving dissident fools, stfu! Last time you complained, you set a chain of events in motion that spawned Pol Pot!

Or what y2karl said. And what languagehat said. Annus horribilis indeed.

jonmc, those t-shirts were allegedly popular in police circles in anticipation of protesters at the 1996 Democratic Convention, the first to return to Chicago. (see second paragraph)

Incidentally, a federal investigation of the 1968 Chicago events - The Walker Report - found fault on both sides, but labeled the event a police riot.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:58 PM on August 17, 2003

The Whole World Was Watching: an oral history of 1968

Also, it was the year of the Mexico Olympics, The Tet Offensive and Prague Spring. I never saw a year for so much bad news. Oh, it was bleak.

On a side note: my brother and I visited my aunt and uncle in Chicago some months after the convention. When we were crossing a street, with the light red and in a crosswalk, a woman clipped us with her car--on purpose. We were obviously students.

I loved Maxwell Street but otherwise, man, the mood was ugly there. Daley's Chicago was one scary place.
posted by y2karl at 8:37 PM on August 17, 2003 [1 favorite]

Faze, that was a great post. I've read the Chicago Seven trial transcripts - it was a big circle jerk indeed.
posted by transona5 at 10:01 PM on August 17, 2003

muckster, thanks for that. Now I simply must link to a prior excellent Phil Ochs thread.

y2karl, do you mean Richard shoot to kill arsonists, shoot to maim looters Daley's Chicago?
posted by madamjujujive at 10:06 PM on August 17, 2003

« Older Liberace called to say   |   bitchin' Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments