Nostalgic for a Few Killings to Give the Fleabaggers Meaning
Donny Deutsch is the former host of the CNBC talk show “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.” His following comments on the Occupy Wall Street movement on MSNBCs “Morning Joe” will give you some idea why the use of the word ‘former’ is appropriate:
“Obviously everybody is saying, they need to kind of clarify, they need policy issues — ‘this is what we want’ as opposed to …. The other thing it needs, and I don’t want this to come out the wrong way. If we think — not needs but will happen — if you think back to the late ’60s, what is the most stirring image of all of the rebellion that happened. What do we remember? Kent State. Now, I’m not saying somebody has to get killed. What will happen, there will be a climax moment of class warfare somehow played out on screen that I think will — the same way ‘9-9-9,’ if you will, kind of simplifies a message — that articulates this clash. So, both the real clarification in terms of policy and unfortunately some imagery says to America, and I think those are the two things…”
Deutsch was born in 1957. I suspect that he does not remember much about the 1960s. His understanding of the Kent State Shootings, also known as the “May 4 Massacre” and the “Kent State Massacre,” is at best blurred. Maybe he needs to listen to the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song “Ohio” for a historical refresher course. He might also want to take a few minutes and ponder John Filo’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, a 14-year-old runaway, kneeling in anguish over the body of Jeffrey Miller minutes after he was shot by the Ohio National Guard.
The 1960s are often viewed through the haze of romantic nostalgia. Any sane person who lived through the period does not want to repeat its many moral, cultural, social, and political disorders.
The grungy fleabaggers have given the media something to talk about, a counter to the orderly but angry tea party movement. The media are hepped-up on a return to the era of “flower power” when “everything was groovy.” The Occupiers of Wall Street give them hope that a new day has dawned. It hasn’t. It’s the same rhetoric, the same fashion, the same behavior, and the same smell. Ronald Reagan captured the era well with his descriptions of hippies: “They dress like Tarzan, have long hair like Jane, and smell like Cheetah.”
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For those who are unfamiliar with the era, here’s a brief look back through my eyes.
On April 5, 1968 three high school friends of mine and I drove into downtown Pittsburgh to register for the draft. It was our 18th birthday. In those days, you were given the day off to go through the registration process. The Vietnam War was in full swing. Woodstock was a year away. Campus unrest was fomenting, and the Kent State shootings would put an end to them in May 1970.
The day before, Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated. Some cities with a high concentration of blacks were having bouts of civil unrest. As a result, armed National Guard soldiers were stationed in the downtown areas of several large cities. Their presence was to assure us that everything was under control. As we drove to the draft board, we came face-to-face with armed soldiers. They weren’t able to stop the riots in the Hill District area of Pittsburgh that began on April 5 and lasted until April 12. There were more than 500 fires and more than a half-million dollars in property damage, one death and 926 arrests.
Early in its history, the “Hill District residents supplied the labor for mines, mills, business and government.” Jewish immigrants came first to replace the original settlers. “Between 1870 and 1890, great numbers arrived from Europe’s ghettos. After the Jews came the Italians, the Syrians, the Greeks, and the Poles. Blacks began arriving from the South between 1880 and 1890.” By 1956, the Hill district was majority Black. MLK’s assassination was the event that lit the fuse of social, economic, and political discontent.
Pittsburgh wasn’t the only city to see this anger vented in a violent way. There were five days of riots in Washington, D.C. There were other riots in large cities like Baltimore, Louisville, Kansas City, and Chicago. The damage in these cities far exceeded what happened in Pittsburgh. Damage estimates for our Nation’s Capital was $27 million.
The riots utterly devastated Washington’s inner city economy. With the destruction or closing of businesses, thousands of jobs were lost, and insurance rates soared. Made uneasy by the violence, city residents of all races accelerated their departure for suburban areas, depressing property values. Crime in the burned out neighborhoods rose sharply, further discouraging investment. On some blocks, only rubble remained for decades.
More than 100 cities were affected by civil unrest. Why am I rehearsing this period in America’s history? Liberal commentators, many elected officials, and even the President have voiced outrage over public displaces of political discontent. When the April 1968 riots are evaluated, some historians have a problem on how to categorize them. “There is some debate about whether or not this riot should be called a ‘riot,’ a ‘civil disturbance,’ or a ‘rebellion.’ These events were indeed precipitated by the assassination of MLK, but were also evidence of larger frustrations amongst the city’s African-American population.”
Does any of this sound familiar? There is a great deal of discontent in America today, but there haven’t been any riots or civil disturbances that are anything like what took place in 1968. In the vast majority of cases, regular citizens have joined together to voice their opinions about what they believe is happening to their nation. They believe the Constitution is being violated and their freedoms eliminated in the name of social reform. Elected officials have no regard for the oath they took to uphold the Constitution. For example, Illinois Democrat Congressman Phil Hare said he “doesn’t worry about the Constitution” or the Declaration of Independence when he votes. He’s ignorant of both (see his rebuttal here). When Nancy Pelosi was asked, “Where in the constitution does Congress have the authority to control healthcare in America,” she laughed. Then there’s self-professed liberal Maxine Waters who stated that she wants to take over and run the oil companies, what she admitted in an unguarded moment as “socialism” (see video clip here), if they don’t her bidding. James Madison, the Architect of the Constitution, wrote in Federalist No. 45, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined.” Few elected officials pay much attention to what the Founders established.
Elected officials are afraid. They’re not afraid of riots, although they continue to bring up the false specter of them hoping their liberal sycophants in the media will be able to tip the scales of public opinion their way. They’re afraid of freedom of speech, assembly, the press, and the ballot box. The Tea Party Movement is nothing more than the freedom to “petition the government for a redress of grievances,” another one of these inconvenient First Amendment freedoms. Congress thrives on voter ignorance and a growing cadre of government workers to keep them perpetually in office. Job growth is all about government job growth.
Politicians are panicking. That’s good. Let’s keep up the pressure. A few elections won’t make much difference in the long-run if we don’t take the loss of our Constitutional freedoms seriously. Liberals are just waiting for us to riot. It won’t happen.