By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur "living the dream in the Pacific Northwest."
For those of us who have lived long enough, today’s political climate feels very familiar. It reminds me of 1968.
For those of us who don’t remember all the way back there, here is what was going on.
First of all, we had the terrible assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. There were riots in Chicago where it seemed to me as if half the city was burned down.
Now a lot of this was precipitated by the MLK, Jr. assassination. But also remember we were at war in Vietnam (over 50,000 US military killed in action).
What I will always remember is the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where war protesters and police fought in the streets.
Our entry into Vietnam, actually started under the Eisenhower administration, expanded under John Kennedy, and then again with Lyndon Johnson.
In fact, for those of us who remember, the major event that precipitated us dramatically expanding the Vietnam war effort was the Gulf of Tonkin incident. This somewhat fictitious “attack” on U.S. military ships (net result – a single bullet hole in one U.S. Navy ship) was used by President Johnson to greatly expand our war effort there.
The “10,000-foot level” reason for our involvement was to “prevent the spread of Communism” in Southeast Asia.
I’ll never forget the final scene in our presence there. U.S. helicopters landing on the roof of our embassy in Saigon – as we struggled to get as many U.S. citizens as well as “loyal” South Vietnamese people out of there as the North Vietnamese finally took over the city (and the rest of South Vietnam).
Of course, President Richard Nixon, in one final attempt to “win” an unwinnable war – carpet bombed Cambodia via Operation Menu. The idea was to interrupt the supply routes through Cambodia through which the North Vietnamese were supplying themselves and the Viet Cong with military supplies.
I guess that plan didn’t work out so well – as written above, it failed miserably. We did kill tens of thousands of North Vietnamese military and Viet Cong with the bombing campaign. But as it was largely thought the Red Chinese were backing up North Vietnam, so as they said then, “There are a billion more where they came from.”
There was much anti-war blow back by young people objecting to our presence in Vietnam. This was what precipitated all the Democratic Convention rioting.
Now, flash to the present. It seems the current protests in Portland and Seattle are fueled by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis – by a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck – suffocating him. Four police officers are under indictment for that crime.
I have quoted George Santayana before. He coined the expression, “Those that don’t study history are doomed to repeat it.”
To me, it appears that many of us have very short memories and are simply repeating the the mistakes in 1968 by allowing peaceful protests to spawn riots.
Yeah, what happened to Floyd was clearly unnecessary and criminal. But should we really let rioters burn down Portland, Oregon?
U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, testified before a Congressional Committee on Wednesday, July 29th, that Federal Officers in Oregon were sent to “protect Federal property,” specifically the U.S. Courthouse in Portland because daytime Black Lives Matter protests were turning into nighttime riots.
The mayor of Portland, the mayor of Seattle, and both Washington and Oregon Governors requested that the U.S. Government remove any and all federal officers from these locations.
Let me just point out that the U.S. is considered a slightly center right nation. And the so called “middle America” where presidential elections are won or lost, are pretty much “law and order” supporters.
I respectfully suggest that the Democratic Party are not doing themselves any favors by siding with these mayors and governors.
I believe the “average person on the street” is bothered by all this mindless violence and that middle America does not want to “defund” the police. Do we really think that replacing police officers with social workers is the solution for police violence against Blacks?
I only point all this out as no matter what the polls may say, these “peaceful demonstrations that turn into riots” are simply not what the “average” U.S. voter wants.