Friday, January 6, 2012

The Violent 1960's

A variety of radical groups dominated the attention of the nation in the 1960's - the Weathermen, the Black Panthers, the SDS, and the ADA, among others. But the situation on the campuses of America's colleges and universities was more complex: a majority of students simply wanted to get their educations and move on; another segment of the student body was interested in socially liberal politics, but not interested in bombing and violence like the radical groups; a third group was conservative, and refused to be intimidated by the radicals, instead creating the student-fueled political career of Barry Goldwater; and finally, the fourth group was indeed a violent and radical fringe.

There were many famous leaders of campus terrorism: Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, and dozens of others who advocated rioting and murdering as a legitimate path to political power. Although they mentioned equality, their goal was not civil rights, but rather killing and terrorizing. They did not like Martin Luther King, because he advocated non-violence, and worked for truly civil rights and social harmony.

In 1969, a group of leaders from Washington wanted to learn more about the violence on America's campuses; they toured several universities. Dick Cheney recalls what happened when they arrived in Madison, Wisconsin:

On the night the congressmen arrived, Students for a Democratic Society was holding a campus rally with a the controversial Black Panther firebrand Fred Hampton as the guest speaker.
Hampton had been connected with thefts and the murders of policemen. The congressmen attended the rally, and although some of the students there at first threatened to attack them,
Everyone was too busy shouting support for the increasingly inflammatory rhetoric of the speakers leading up to the guest of honor.
Oblivious to the congressmen because of their violent frenzy, the radicals were rewarded by the main speaker:
Hampton turned out to be a skillful orator and a very charismatic individual. He distanced himself from the students who wanted a black studies department, declaring that revolution had to be the goal - and violence the means. He worked the crowd into a frenzy by shouting about how satisfying it was to "kill pigs" and how much more satisfying it was to kill a lot of them.
Rejecting the peaceful ways of the true civil rights movement, Hampton was an example of those whose goal was violence and murder - for any reason or for no reason. Although they were a very small percentage of the total population, they attracted much media attention, and their existence explains why the the 1960's weren't merely about "peace and love and flower power"!