1968?

As Americans have increasingly taken to the streets, not just to protest George Floyd’s murder, but also to protest overreach by the current, lawless administration, I’ve seen several articles comparing those demonstrations with the civil unrest that characterized the 1960s.

The consensus, I am happy to report, seems to be that we aren’t in Kansas anymore, Toto.

The Brookings Institution examined public opinion on race, and concluded–as the title of that report put it–“When it comes to opinions on race, it isn’t 1968 anymore.”

For one thing, there is very little disagreement about public reaction to the horrific video showing Floyd’s murder. According to survey research, only 2% of Americans believe that the use of force against him was justified, and 81% consider it unjustified. Fifty-seven percent believe it reflects a greater willingness on the part of police to use excessive force against Black people.

Furthermore,

76% of Americans now say that discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities in the United States is a “big problem,” including 57% of conservatives, 71% of whites, and 69% of whites without college degrees.  In addition, Americans have turned more pessimistic about progress toward racial equality. In 2014, the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, 79% of Americans saw gains in the fight to end racial discrimination, compared to just 56% today.

Attitudes about protests have similarly evolved. Americans overwhelmingly say that peaceful protests are a justifiable response to police misconduct, and they also believe that police have over-reacted and used excessive and unjustifiable force against peaceful protesters. A whopping two-thirds blame “other people”– not the protesters themselves– for the outbreaks of violence, which they do condemn.

The bottom line: it’s not 1968 anymore. A large share of white Americans now endorse views on race relations once confined largely to African Americans. While Americans of all parties and races continue to oppose violent protests, appeals to “law and order” not balanced with the recognition of deep injustice lack the resonance of half a century ago. This helps explain why barely one-third of Americans support President Trump’s handling of race relations—and why 53% of Americans say that relations have gotten worse on his watch.

In June, Todd Gitlin took a slightly different approach in a column for the Washington Post, comparing today’s protests to 1969 rather than 1968. Gitlin acknowledged that “When windows are smashed, shops go up in flames, looters ransack and police open fire, the collective psyche automatically clicks over to 1968 ,” but he went on to argue that the current anger has more in common with the (far more effective) anti-war demonstrations of 1969.

The issue was different from today’s, but the ecumenical spirit, the resolve and the conviction about the need for a new political start were similar. Then as now, the rallies expressed both solidarity and self-interest. In 1969, with the draft in force, many in the Moratorium crowds had a huge personal stake, though many did not. Today, black protesters have the most obvious stakes, but whites in the far-flung crowds, under a broad range of leaders, are also moved selflessly and morally.

I remember the upheaval of the 60s, and I especially remember the attitudes of my own middle-class, White, “proper” cohort–attitudes that were definitely not sympathetic to the “rabble” that was disturbing their complacency. But looking back, it’s hard to deny that both the riots and the anti-war protests changed America.

Historians tell us that the upheaval of the 1960s integrated universities, spurred the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, put black faces on TV shows other than sports, and provided a blueprint that would be followed by women, LGBTQ Americans and other oppressed groups.

America is a much fairer country as a result of that upheaval.

Of course, making additional places at the civic table continues to upset people who experience equality for others as a diminution of their own status. A columnist for CNN repeated a story that continues to be both explanatory and relevant:

As Hodding Carter put it to historian Arthur Schlesinger, when Schlesinger asked why Southern white men hated Bill Clinton so much, “They look back with longing at the good old days — the days when abortion was in the back alley, gays were in the closet, women were in the kitchen, blacks were in the back of the bus, and condoms were under the counter.”

Progress doesn’t come without disruption–and not everyone applauds when it comes.

23 thoughts on “1968?

  1. Perhaps the biggest change we are experiencing today is what we are forced to deal with within ourselves as we each grapple with our once comfortable notions of ourselves and the new reality we are forced to see around us.

  2. I don’t doubt that things are different today, but some of the numbers coming out of the polls are so high, especially about the white segment of the population, that I wonder how many people lie to the pollsters for fear of labeling themselves (even if it is just to a stranger taking the poll) as racists.

  3. Please; let us not forget the millions in Washington, D.C. and across this country who marched, rallied and protested Trump, beginning in earnest on January 21, 2017. For approximately two years these protests continued without violence; and the level of violence against blacks by police increased and worsened but went virtually unnoticed by the public. Some police are continuing the violence knowing they are being filmed by those watching; there must be a basis for their believing they are safe from prosecution. Their protection comes from White Nationalism and Trump.

    “Historians tell us that the upheaval of the 1960s integrated universities, spurred the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, put black faces on TV shows other than sports, and provided a blueprint that would be followed by women, LGBTQ Americans and other oppressed groups.”

    That was then; this is now! Where are those Civil Rights today, where are those Voting Rights today? Those black faces on TV, and the women as well as known lesbians and gays, now have the right to be on TV…fighting for the RETURN of Civil Rights and Voting Rights and the fight against racism appears to have begun anew. Those faces are now fighting for full service from the United States Postal Service to be allowed to vote safely as they fight against the fools gathering without masks who are spreading the Covid-19 Pandemic and fighting the federal government to take action to provide medical testing and proper equipment for first responders and medical workers on all levels as well as for the public. Those who require hospitalization and surgeries are getting delayed treatment, IF they get treatment, due to the inundation of coronavirus patients fill hospitals and most medical staff trying to keep them alive. Do any of you have family or friends suffering from that delay: I do! And; those black, brown and LGBTQ faces are among those suffering and dying in this Pandemic.

    “America is a much fairer country as a result of that upheaval.”

    Watching Trump’s last two mentally unstable, rambling speeches, referred to as press conferences, has brought about even more upheaval than his entire more than 3 1/2 years in the White House.

  4. Well, all this is moot, LOL, David Horowitz claims Trump is going to win in a landslide! Although the book that predicts it, is pretty bad, it doesn’t matter to POTUS, he loves it.

    But, to the thread!

    1968, and 1969, that time period made for some wonderful music!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9wWcMY2dHg

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CShUISLYLGY

    I really can’t think of another artist who encapsulated what was going on at the time concerning living conditions, equality, and environmental catastrophe! Music galvanized a lot of public opinion, this is nonexistent right now. Because most of the music now is self-centered and almost completely about self. Where music once promoted unity and coming together, now it’s predominantly 180° in the opposite direction. And don’t discount force music has on public opinion.

    We have something right now that didn’t exist in the late 60s, a pandemic. And we have a president that is using every possible means to suppress the vote, including destroying the Postal Service in the middle of a pandemic. While attempting to gum up the vote by mail movement, he is going to be killing Americans by preventing delivery of life-saving medicines to the poor and the seniors. There also was no social media in the 60s, there were no smart phones, no computers, no cell phones whatsoever. No 24 hour propagandizing cable news networks, really no cable-television at all.

    Can we truly say, the more things change, the more they stay the same? I don’t think so. All of these things affect the narrative. When one person’s voice can drown out those of the majority because of technological advancement, you have a huge problem. When you have those who refuse to rebut and point out the hypocrisy and lunacy, leaving it to those who are insurgents in their own parties, it’s a big problem!

    There are no JFK’s, RFK’s, MLK’s, John Lewis’s, Rosa Parks’s, Fannie Lou Hamer’s, CT Vivian’s, Ralph Abernathy’s, JoAnn Robinson,s Julian Bond’s, Eleanor Roosevelt’s or Nelson Mandela’s. A few that are left, are mostly forgotten and there definitely are no younger ones in the pipeline. Because, compassion and empathy have been in short supply for generations, Gen X, Gen Y, Millennial’s, Gen Z and the like! Compassion has given way to consumption, self-sacrifice has given way to self absorption, empathy has given way to apathy, unity has given way to mutiny!

    When you have groups like BLM demolish and eviscerate the 1st openly gay black female mayor in a major city (Chicago) because the federal government refuses to control the flow of firearms into the city which foments violence, and a mayor and for anything to save its citizens, is criticized for accepting any sort of help from the current administration. When a city is dying of thirst, can it’s mayor truly slap water out of the hand of any sort of help? Desperate times call for desperate measures. BLM would rather focus on police rather than community violence. They would rather have face time and self-aggrandizement on social media and 24-hour news programming, rather than compassionate intervention in communities. See what I mean? Self-serving!

    I’ve heard with my own ears, and personally argued with those younger ones who called all of the above mentioned civil rights leaders, many who paid an ultimate personal price, “sellouts” and that they should not be emulated because they were part of the system! This is not a small opinion from a few people either! The prevailing undercurrent is not a uniform Gulfstream, it’s fractured and in an unrepairable fashion. A perfect environment for chaos to rule the day!

  5. We boomers showed a lot of promise back in the 60s, didn’t we? We went off the rails somewhere in the 80s, I think. We’re now the old white crowd that fears change. Happily, the children and grandchildren of boomers are showing much more promise than we did. I hope they stay focused on the prize that still eludes us, equality and justice for all.

  6. And after 1969 came 1970 –
    May 4 1970 — things seemed to get worse. The US Government turned armed young guardsmen on the college students at Kent State anti war demonstration. 4 Kids Killed.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent_State_shootings
    then
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sterling_Hall_bombing
    Aug. 24, 1970, during a time of intense agitation against the Vietnam War. At 3:42 a.m., an explosion tore through Sterling Hall, a building that housed both the university physics department and the Army Mathematics Research Center. One man killed.
    ——
    With a nut job in the white house, I worry that guns could be turned on citizen once more. And that could trigger a bad reaction-again. Lets hope this settles — and soon.

  7. OK Boomers….we are still here. More than 75% of the more than 850 members of our CommonGoodGoverning activist community are over 70 years old.

    What is hardest for many of us is the loud voices, marching feet and BLM t-shirts of the young who then fail to vote or vote for extremists who have little chance to get elected to make change.

  8. It should be clear to everyone that Trump enabled police excesses at his idiotic rallies. His lust for applause and adulation coupled with his gnawing and overt racism fed the ignorant maws of his aggrieved white audiences. The police felt justified in knocking heads. The “president” said it was O.K. – in so many words.

    EVERYTHING TRUMP TOUCHES DIES. For the last four years he has been “touching” our democracy and it is dying one institution at a time. Gutting the USPS is the latest ploy to steal the election for the proper Nazi that Trump is. Will protests be sufficient to overcome the roadblocks being placed on the coming election?

    Only a miserable, psychopathic bastard like Trump would weaponize COVID to steal an election.

  9. I’ve had the pleasure of being around mostly urban liberals since I’ve been traveling in North Carolina, but an occasional conservative will speak their mind. For one thing, you can’t find 9mm ammo in any of the stores because the “freedom lovers” are stockpiling ammo in the event Antifa comes to riot at their house. Several of them are even looking up plans to build a bunker on their property.

    I guess they fear more than God.

    Fearing others for being different goes toward a person’s insecurities. Mexicans got hammered by Trump as well, but without them, what would happen to our food, construction, and hospitality industries?

    Where are the Oligarchs who rely on their cheap labor and work ethic?

    Polls that accumulate random stats are interesting, but let’s poll the people and institutions who are responsible for institutional racism. Why aren’t they out there defending black and brown people who they rely on for their labor?

    We still have elected officials who are racists at the federal, state, and local levels. How have they risen to represent citizens in their districts if those voters don’t accept racist representation?

    I like polls, but like other comments above, I’m not sure how accurate they are when are institutions and corporations have assured institutional racism and politicians at all levels can be elected who are racist. Even when the media speaks up about this racism, voters in many states still vote for these racists.

    Furthermore, those racists who saw the protests on TV used them to further dig into their racist views. They saw it as proof if given the opportunity, that minorities would trash property and public statues which the racists hold so dear.

    We’ve made progress since the 60s, but there is a long way to go, especially when the DNC uses minorities for votes in every election, but then does little or nothing to improve their lot in life. Don’t forget; the Occupy movement was squashed by Obama when they rebuked him and the Democratic Party.

    The protests are a sign to both capitalist political parties who have institutionalized racism and classism that the people are over this shit. And why in the hell aren’t the teacher’s unions in the streets over the back to school orders?

    We are getting quite an education during this pandemic.

  10. Todd,

    It’s fitting that the hoarders of ammo would be digging their own “caves”. The ignorant become even more primitive when frightened. They revert to the “wild type” and in fact return to the caves where their feeble intellect arose.

  11. Vernon and Todd; in 2008 my Republican cousin forwarded an E-mail to me containing a long list of Barack Obama’s plans for gun and ammunition control if elected. This was purportedly from an American Rifle magazine article; the only one I remember was that he would ban the purchase of all forms of ammunition by all Americans. I researched the article title but didn’t find it, researched American Rifle magazine then by the article title but still didn’t find it. Researched the NRA, nothing there, looked for the magazine and the article title through the NRA but it wasn’t to be found.

    Todd’ those “freedom lovers” must have received that E-mail and have been stockpiling 9mm ammo since 2008; no wonder it can’t be found in stores.

  12. JoAnn, a well-placed piece of propaganda is a great marketing ploy for makers of guns and ammo. I’m sure once it circulated, the culprits deleted all traces of its origins.

    As a result of the protests led by BLM and members of Antifa, I’m sure that other marketers targeted gun lovers about the possibility of protestors coming to their houses and stealing from them. I’ve had several “freedom-lovers” even mention they are getting ready for the protests coming to their neighborhoods and stealing from their homes. I’ve told them the motive of the protestors, but they will not listen. SMDH

  13. Vernon, are you inferring that being a bigoted racist that promotes institutional inequality is synonymous with being a troglodyte mouth breather?

    You know what I’ve noticed Vernon, when reality smashes conspiracy in the face like a good straight left right combo, those that conspiratorially follow, willfully follow the willfully deluded and willfully ignorant, they stagger around like they were in the ring with Mohammed Ali! I have to laugh, relatives that have promoted all of these conspiracy theories, the recent ones on the coronavirus and everything else, now are getting smashed in the face with having to send their kids to school or their grandkids to school, and now, maybe all those conspiracies that they roiled about were not really conspiracies.

    I asked one of my cousins, if they were about to pass their grandchildren through the fire like worshipers of BAAL, of course, they’re religiously conservative so they’re not familiar with Scripture, LOL, but when they did a little bit of research, they had no answer! Just that they thought hydroxychloroquine, Z pack, and zinc were the God sent combination to save their lives. Yes, I know! It makes no sense, the stupidity and ignorance level is astounding. So they will gladly sacrifice their lives to remain willfully deluded and ignorant!

    The only other explanation to some of this stuff, there are certain elements in this group which feels if they foment enough racial strife and violence, it will bring about the rapture! Rapture? Rapture! Rapture is nowhere in Scripture, so the deluded, delude the ignorant, who willfully delude themselves! What?!?! LOL, you really could never have written anything so bizarre before all of this happened even if you are Isaac Asimov or Ray Bradberry incarnate!

  14. Peggy,
    “We boomers showed a lot of promise back in the 60s, didn’t we? We went off the rails somewhere in the 80s, I think.”

    Only if you had your senses closed down for about thirty years. You, the generation that experienced high school in the late 50s and early 60s went off the rails in the 60s, fourteen years after the tragic publishing of Dr. Spock’s so-called Baby Book. I saw the train wreck in action the first day of my first day of teaching in 1961. My college professors in the mid-50s predicted most of it, right down to minute detail, based on the lock that John Locke and Dr. Spock had on educational philosophy. Then came MTV, and the end was in sight, the rails greased by bastard, traitorous music. Talk about a knife in the back. How about three knives in Uncle Sam’s back: Locke’s, Spock’s and MTV’s. No one survives. It was the assassination of reason and responsibility in one thrust. Et tu Locke, Spock and MTV.

  15. Ammunition manufacturers need not advertise. All they need do is stoke fear of change. Both rich and poor are fearful of change and are a ready audience for such fear peddlers as politicians who have nothing else to sell, priests and preachers with their scarey stories of the hereafter etc. FDR nailed it when he observed in the midst of the Great Depression that the only thing we have to fear is fear itiself, and that has application far beyond the economic.

    Both the comfortable and the uncomfortable fear change, though for different reasons. Change is, of course, inevitable, but how we as individuals handle it is not. As I frequently observe elsehwere, it is not only the pace and depth of change but the nature of change that is changing. So how do we accomodate change? By changing ourselves, as Theresa rigthtly observes today. Philosophically speaking, we ride with the punch by learning not to fear fear.

  16. Culture is messy. Anthropologists say humans (and to a lesser degree more intelligent other species) evolved it in order to mitigate the rate of change by anchoring social habits with it. It’s a means of control of newer generations by the older generation that honored what they had observed of the generation that raised them in terms of how people like them behaved. That way the lessons of the past get preserved in our behavior.

    But it also gets in the way of progress. As times change we have to adapt to new situations and that adaption is hampered by culture. Sometimes that gets to the point of having to misbehave to make the point that now is different than then was. The founders of our country knew and did that and the parade of culture clashes really never ends nor should anyone expect it to. In the end it’s necessary if inconvenient, like change always is because it pits groups against one another – those seeing the times “they are a’changin'” vs those who are steeped more solidly in the culture being questioned.

    Obviously there are two possible outcomes. Either the change in question wins or the old culture wins.

    We in this cohort have seen the greatest rate of human change ever in the history of our species. It’s overwhelming for many people and a motivation for others. Nobody should expect those circumstances to go down easily.

    It’s this cultural turmoil that can be mistaken for political turmoil when in fact politics are just being carried along as the manifestation of the culture wars. Like democracy culture clashes are won by the energy and numbers of those of a mind to evict what was and celebrate what must be. My opinion is that here and now that critical mass has been achieved by the liberal persuasion. No guarantees but what evidence can be gathered from the news seems to lead in that direction.

    One thing’s for sure. No matter the political outcome in Nov the energy demanding further change or preventing cultural change will not go away. These are revolutionary times again.

  17. Here’s an inside glimpse of the late 20th century IMPROVEMENT in the black economy in America.

    My window of view was through the sale of my paintings. Through the 1960s and 1970s, I sold thousands of paintings but virtually none to black Americans, because my market was the upper-middle class, nearly none of which were black. But behind the scenes, black Americans were being bused to better schools and going to college, thanks to the civil rights movement of the 60s. Suddenly, in the 80s, my art dealers were requesting black art, which they called ethnic art. By the end of the 80s, almost all my sales were to black collectors. Something like 95 %. What happened?

    The dramatic rise of the black middle class; that’s what happened.

    You all can point to some factors that influenced that rise in black purchasing power, and you likely can identify signs of it besides art sales. But I doubt if anyone can identify a more dramatic example of the long-range success of the civil rights movement. I see black education — a tangible result of the civil rights movement — as the great force behind that economic improvement.

    That all black boats did not rise with the economic black tide is a disappointment. But these days all white boats do not rise with the tide either. We should know better than to expect all of our prospects to improve, but we can do a lot better.

    And we can do worse.

    During the late 20th century rise of the black middle class, a dastardly opposition to black success from the white middle class was growing, too. We now see the results of that. I recall one white art dealer in Chicago (made super rich by black collectors) bitching about the trend. “It might be good for them, but it’s a disaster for America,” she told me. She didn’t mention how good it had been for her. But she was prescient, nevertheless.

    Two years later, she was out of business and broke. A black woman in Chicago had started an art dealership that catered exclusively to black collectors. Black dealers followed in every major city. For some reason, the numbers of white collectors had dropped below the threshold needed to support white art dealers. Every one of my white dealers bit the dust; in Chicago, in Baltimore, in Florida, in Texas, in California, in Seattle, in Minneapolis, and in Indianapolis. I’ve seen no studies on why that happened, but I suspect that once white middle class saw black folk buying paintings and making art part of their culture, the white folk decided that paintings were somehow attached to black culture and no longer desirable in white homes. I have no proof of that, but I have seen no other explanation making sense or having supporting data.

    Fortunate for me, I retired at about the time my dealers were rotting off the money tree.

  18. This quote says a lot about how various groups view equality.
    “Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It’s not a pie.” – Jesse Williams

    Race is an artificial construct to insure that the ones who control access to the pie get the biggest slice every time. Misogyny and religion have done the same for centuries.

  19. Gerald,
    depending on the latest war going on,or some countries plan for one. there is always a shortage of ammo..the need is always above the availability. look at the goods, brass,lead,copper, 100s of bullet points,styles,weights etc, and then theres 100s of gun powders,propelants,and casings. now try starting a new ammo plant. the insurance alone would stiffle the idea, along with the feds licencing and where ya gonna build this? on and on. the so called shortage is in the mind,and people who ate still laughing at us buying up all the shitpaper..now, data mining,whos doin that when this item starts again?
    i prefer .44 mag with a hollow,265 gram,hi power, you?

  20. Gerald,
    depending on the latest war going on,or some countries plan for one. there is always a shortage of ammo..the need is always above the availability. look at the goods, brass,lead,copper, 100s of bullet points,styles,weights etc, and then theres 100s of gun powders,propelants,and casings. now try starting a new ammo plant. the insurance alone would stiffle the idea, along with the feds licencing and where ya gonna build this? on and on. the so called shortage is in the mind,and people who are still laughing at us buying up all the shitpaper..now, data mining,whos doin that when this item starts again?
    i prefer desert eagle .44 mag with a 10 inch barrel and a hollow,265 gram,hi power, you?

  21. John Sorg,

    Prompted by your comments, I went to look at reviews of Sorg’s book. I couldn’t believe that someone who released a book in 2020 would claim Trump would win in a landslide. No serious scholar would make that claim. Turns out Horowitz did not.

    https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/07/trump-landslide-david-horowitz-book-blitz-smash-left-2020-prediction.html

    The reviewer found that Horowitz didn’t claim Trump would win in a landslide and barely mentioned his re-election prospects at all. The reviewer noted that in the preface was a disclaimer that as the book was in its final stages and going to the printer, the world getting hit with a virus coming from Wuhan, China. The reviewer provides a possible explanation for what happened:

    “It is possible Horowitz frantically excised all the passages predicting Trump’s reelection victory. Alternatively, he never made any such prediction, and simply decided to market his book that way. In any case, Blitz contains almost nothing to substantiate the prognostication that excites his friends. If you cut and pasted every line in the book that argues, asserts, or even implies that Trump will win, they would not supply enough text to fill an op-ed.”

    Very interesting. That speculation makes sense.

  22. OK – I have different memories and different timelines

    Early ’60s – non-violent marches – small, but significant “white” participation – met by police violence that was televised/newsreeled – this led to change

    Later – SNCC said “whites” could go home

    Late ’60s – these were riots – I lived through the Detroit riots – the spark – a police raid of a “blind pig” (after hours drinking establishment) – there were zero peaceful protests, just riots – my uncle’s drug store – he was well regarded and thus received a phone call telling him to go and empty his safe before the riots hit – my father’s business – stolen bicycles and an attempt to torch the warehouse (wholesale business – not open to the public) – this led to Nixon (not from my family)

    Anti-war – the mix in protests does match, but not the themes and motivations – some were truly against the war – some were self-interested people who didn’t want to get drafted and die – some thought the protests they were too young to participate in looked like fun – some wanted the “social” interaction (pick up girls/guys) – there were peaceful protests, some violence, and some agent provocateurs – it had less effect than a vote against Nixon would have

    Today – there is a very racially mixed group – the protests and mostly peaceful with some violence and some agent provocateurs (why the press didn’t explore this last possibility earlier can be attributed to short memories and timidity) – I see this as having large effects going forward, assuming the energy is turned into votes

    Pascal – if people lie to pollsters, it is actually a good sign – that was the norm until Trump – the idea of driving the bigotry into hiding is that everybody learns that this is not acceptable – bigotry will still be taught parent to child, but the children will get contradictory messages from society at large and more important, society will bring about more exposure to “others” –
    “No, Virginia, I don’t know about Santa Claus, but you can clearly see that I don’t have horns and that the Black doctor just saved your life, and did not rape you. That Latino man isn’t lazy. He just sweated in the summer sun to fix the sidewalk in front of your house.”

Comments are closed.