Skip to comments.Anti-War Movement Wrestles With 1968 ("Re-Create '68" at Democrat National Convention)
Posted on 02/27/2008 8:28:05 AM PST by kristinn
A coalition of anti-war groups is vowing to protest this summers Democratic National Convention in Denver under the rubric Re-create 68, prompting criticism from some on the left who are loath to revisit what they see as a disastrous time for both the anti-war movement and the Democratic Party.
Capping a year that saw the assassinations of both the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, the 1968 Democratic National Convention erupted in violence as thousands of Chicago police officers, supported by U.S. Army troops and National Guardsmen, battled in the streets with activists protesting the Vietnam War. Inside the convention hall, the Democrats chose as their presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey, who went on to lose the general election to Richard Nixon.
Whats the political calculation that speaks to them of the wisdom of civil disobedience which means a massive media spectacle on the brink of a Democratic campaign that could plausibly put a Democrat in the White House whos committed to withdrawal from Iraq? asked Todd Gitlin, an anti-Vietnam War activist who was at the Democratic National Convention in 1968. If the objective is to put a belligerent Republican in the White House, they should keep up the good work.
The belligerent Republican of whom Gitlin speaks will almost certainly be Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who spent the summer of 1968 as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
Organizers acknowledge that their Re-create 68 moniker has been met with skepticism as theyve toured the country to gin up support among fellow activists. A lot of people of course associate it with the DNC of 68 and react negatively, said organizer Mark Cohen. But the point, Cohen said, isnt to reproduce the violence associated with the 1968 convention, just the strong sense of countercultural protest that coalesced against the Vietnam War. We dont call ourselves Re-create Chicago 68, Cohen offered.
Leslie Cagan, head of United for Peace and Justice, an anti-war group that has organized large marches in the past, said her group has endorsed the planned demonstrations in Denver.
Cynthia McKinney, a former Democratic congresswoman now running as a Green Party candidate for president, will be expressing herself at the demonstration, said organizers. They also plan to reach out to Ralph Nader, who is running as an independent, third-party candidate. The coalition is seeking the support of ANSWER, an anti-war organization with a more radical approach to street protest than UFPJs.
A major march against the war on the Sunday before the convention will be followed by a week of action, some of which will include nonviolent civil disobedience.
Organizer Barbara Cohen speculated that some of the reticence about the name comes from a misunderstanding of the Chicago ruckus. First of all, it was a police riot, and people should remember that, said Cohen, explaining that the group has no plans to become violent. Its the feeling and the ambience from 68 that we want to re-create now.
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-war group Code Pink, said her organization will participate in the demonstrations in order to focus attention on Democrats it believes havent done enough to stop the war in Iraq. Well use it as a time to pressure leaders like Nancy Pelosi, who we feel talks a lot about opposing the war but maneuvers Congress to make sure it gets funded, she said.
Michael Heaney, a Florida University political scientist who studies the anti-war movement, said he expects between 10,000 and 30,000 people to participate in the Denver protest, depending on which candidate seems headed for the Democratic nomination. Organizers said that, from a turnout standpoint, a victory by Hillary Rodham Clinton would be good for numbers echoing sentiment on the right that Clinton is a boon to corralling outrage. If Hillary gets the nomination, were going to have very large numbers a solid 50,000 people at every event, said organizer Glenn Spagnuolo, 37, who wasnt yet born in 1968.
What about the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, where the GOP will nominate as its presidential candidate the Senates chief advocate of the surge in Iraq?
Organizers say that theyll protest at the Republican convention, too, but that their focus will be on the Democrats in Denver. I think its even more important to be in Denver at the DNC, Cohen said. Republicans arent going to listen, no matter what we say, but the Democrats might actually listen.
Cohen was an activist with the radical Students for a Democratic Society in 1968, but she wasnt at the Chicago convention. Partly, my ride fell through, and something else came up that summer, she said.
Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat who represents Denver, was only 11 in 1968, but she said that shes flummoxed by the notion that anyone would want to re-create the dark days of that year. I cant figure out why, for the life of me, that somebody would want to re-create 68, she said. Is it the riots or tear gas or perhaps the assassinations? Or maybe the election of a Republican president? Im not sure the name was completely thought out.
DeGette added, however, that her husband is a top official at the American Civil Liberties Union and that she is pushing for the demonstrators to have a robust right to speak their minds.
Gitlin, a former president of Students for a Democratic Society, fears that the protests in Denver will be too much about people speaking their minds and not enough about obtaining the results that they want.
In the 60s, he said, there were competing strains: the desire for results and the desire for self-expression. This seems to belong squarely in the self-expression camp.
Gitlin said that trying to re-create the feeling of another era makes about as much sense as throwing a costume party. Its absurd to think you can re-create the culture of a moment. History is a succession of irreproducible moments
Denver will be burning in August.
Buying stock in JiffyPop now
But isn’t Abby Hoffman dead ?
I have a few clients like these people: The know the cost of everything and value of nothing.
Why do they delight in doing such things?
I think it’s because they would rather hide their heads in the sand than do something to fix genuine problems the nation faces.
Just like in 1968, it’s much easier to take a toke on a joint than it is defending your country.
We could only hope for a recreation of 68, but it’s probably out of reach. This generation of anarchists can’t begin to compare with the hippies of the 60’s, their drug culture and ability to demonstrate against just about anything.
I double-dare them. That crap will not work these days.
Come on folks, these Lefties are just Commies...
and if they want to rip the ‘Rat party apart,
let ‘em have at it!
“Liberalism is just Communism sold by the drink.”
Seattle redux? Good! Let the lefties, black-maskers, and turtle-suiters smash and burn everything in sight. The TV coverage will drive Ma and Pa Kettle away from the Dems in great, thundering herds, and the cell-hone videos on YouTube as the cops and Guards move in to take out the trash will provide the Internet Generation (and me) with hours of viewing pleasure.
And if they turn violent, it’ll be an opportunity to thin the herd as well.
The whole world’s watching...
Visions of 68, oh yeah !!
I live 25 miles to the north, But I’ll bring some popcorn down to watch the show !
It’ll be fun to watch Denver try not to violate anyones civil rights....
..... and keep them from burning down the place.
Those nice people :
Precisely. Should be interesting.
It'll be interesting to see how many of the protesters can't speak English.
It could turn into a reconquesta thingie.
Didn't really work in those days, either. '68 was supposed to be a party to blow people's minds. The "party" crowd kinda did the productive thing and went in for a positive approach...supporting McCarthy...leaving the militants to butt heads with Daley...a guy you did not want to butt heads with on his home turf. Anymore, all you need is a couple of quarts of vegetable oil poured in a dumpster to make an impressive smoke cloud, and the idjit media will have their photo-op. A couple of hotheads to goad the cops into firing tear gas or bean-bags, and everybody starts chanting "The whole World is Watching." All of the planning that went into the '68 demonstration went out the window when King and Kennedy were shot. Today's chant might just as well be "The whole World is Watching...American Idol...on FOX." I don't think the current electorate has the desire for a fight.
Re-create Kent State!
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