Friday, July 08, 2016

Helter Skelter

I was in college in 1972 when an assassin tried to kill noted racist presidential candidate George Wallace. The initial reaction of a professor friend of mine was to hope the shooter was not black as that could trigger race riots. I had a similar wish last night with the news of the sniper attack killing five Dallas police officers. I had hoped the shooter was not black.

Fortunately, in 1972 the shooter was the ever so lily white Arthur Bremer, a pathetic loser who just wanted to be noticed. The country was not so lucky last night.
Arthur Bremer stalked Wallace before shooting him.

It was a violent time, much more violent than today. In the ten years starting with the Dallas assassination of John Kennedy in 1963 we had the Vietnam War, killings of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King (1968), the Watts Riots (1965), the massacres of students by the National Guard at Kent State and by police at Jackson State (1970), and Charlie Manson's Helter Skelter attempt to trigger a race war by murdering innocent families in 1969.
Ohio National Guard preparing to shoot tear gas at Kent State students. They later switched to bullets.
There was the Long Hot Summer of 1967 when 159 race riots raged across the country. In each case the superheated rage festering in the country would erupt into violence due to a seemingly minor trigger. For a scientific example of how this can happen we turn to the Mythbusters.
Newark, 1967

Texas has a history of sniper murderers. There was the most recent incident and Oswald's sniper killing of JFK. In 1966 Charles Whitman climbed the clock tower at the University of Texas at Austin and shot 49 people, killing 16.

I wish there were some conclusion or lesson to draw from all this. There isn't. The United States of America is a very violent place and has been for a very long time. It is a nation where guns are valued more highly than human life. It is a place where police are trained to believe they are at war with the American people. And it is a place where minorities know that is a very real, ever present war with daily casualties.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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