1968 and 2016: Convention Violence and Anger in America


Peshtigo, 1871.


For the GOP insiders most concerned about violence in Cleveland, many cited protest groups tied to liberal causes, like the Black Lives Matter movement. Nearly a half-dozen Republicans mentioned the Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros, who is a prolific donor to liberal causes. But few thought violence would ensue from an effort to fight Trump’s nomination on the convention floor. “It’s simply too big of a target for the malcontents and violent left to miss,” said an Iowa Republican. “George Soros’ money will pay for thousands of disaffected screaming thugs. Think Seattle [1999], Chicago 1968. Riots and looting. They are the tools of the liberal left.” “I say this with no joy whatsoever,” a Republican in the host state of Ohio added, “but the far-left agitators in Cleveland will make the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago look like a fourth-grade slap fight.

Now, I don’t expect an “Iowa Republican” who thinks that George Soros is bussing anarchists to Cleveland to understand this, or for that matter an Ohio Republican, but it is worth noting that the violence in the 1968 convention did not come from the far-left. It came from the cops. There was provocation, sure, but it was the police that were rioting. As the Walker Report indicated, the refusal to allow permits, the wish to cordon American citizens away from where the powerful were meeting, led directly to the bloodshed.

I would hope that when covering the protests this week, the media remember that. There will almost certainly be Seattle-type violence (and that is the actual far left), but chances are high a lot of the violence will be coming directly from those sanctioned by the state to levy it, and who should take the responsibility seriously.

Or hell, it might come from all the armed lunatics gathering in an open carry state, many of whom feel that these far-left weirdoes and blacks are threatening America and conspiring to ruin Donald Trump’s chances. Would you be surprised if these patriots opened fire? If they saw, incredibly, an anarchist of a Black Panther with a gun, and had to protect themselves? Does any of this seem implausible? A firefight between on-edge police, right-wing militia types, angry protestors, and lone gunmen types like in Dallas and Baton Rouge?  This is Peshtigo in the hot summer of 1871. The sawdust is baking in the heat, and the firestorms are being born.

Cleveland is on Lake Erie, but the closet analogy is up the Great Lakes system, up Michigan, near Green Bay. This is Peshtigo in the hot summer of 1871. We’re on the edge on conflagration. Little fires burst every day. The skies are increasingly choked with soot. The sawdust is baking in the heat, and the devouring and murderous firestorms are being born.

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