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20201011 – The Hardhat Riot

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MAIN IDEA:

The main idea of this book is to retell the story of huge backlash of working-class Americans against leftist protest movement that was shaking up America in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This backlash was expressed by massive riot of blue color workers in New York and political realignment of GOP with “silent majority”.

DETAILS:

Introduction
Here author briefly refer to events of May of 1970 when blue color workers physically clashed with antiwar demonstrators and links these events to 2016 when blue color billionaire Trump was elected on GOP ticket with mass support of blue color workers. He also states that workers won the clash but lost long struggle because of technological and demographic developments.

PART ONE Backdro

1: “Out for Blood”

Here author puts these events on time line and refers to contemporary events such as Kent University shootings.

2: The Revolutionaries of Grand Central and Columbia

This is about Yippies, who were radicalized hippies and their demonstrations and other actions against Vietnam and society’s order overall. Author describes occupation of Columbia university, clashes with police, and arrests.

3: Chicago ’68

The next stop is Chicago democratic convention of 1968 with details of events and political environment of the time.

4: Two Moratorium Days

This chapter moves to October 1969 when big demonstration in DC declared Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam. Author describes this demonstration in details, including participation of New York GOP Mayor John Lindsay who supported antiwar movement.  

5: “Law and Order” and the Decline of Cities

This chapter describes response from society overall, which did not supported movements, giving opening to Nixon and his promotion of Silent Majority. It also analyses demographic and consequent political changes such as black migration from south to big cities and correspondent migration of white middle class from cities to suburbs. Here are some numbers:” Between 1940 and 1970, amid flourishing wartime industry, the black population skyrocketed—Chicago, from 8 to 33 percent; New York City, 6 to 21 percent; Los Angeles, 4 to 18 percent. Detroit’s black population rocketed from 9 to 44 percent.”  Then in late 1960s started deindustrialization of America, living city dwellers without employment, creating situation when people resorted to crime on mass scales and riots. It all coincide with expansion of welfare state, destruction of black family, and initiation of leftist ideological movement to blame all these on racism. Author describes some initial occurrences such as the riot in New York, which mayor Lindsay refused to call a riot.

6: The Political Fallout of “Law and Order”

This chapter is about increase in crime in the cities. Author nicely demonstrates attitude of leftists by this quote: “With half of women in America uptight about law and order what was the liberal response? ‘Law and order,’ they said, ‘is a code word for racism.’ In other words, ‘Lady, you’re not really afraid of being mugged; you’re a bigot,” read The Real Majority (1970). “Instead of saying, ‘We are for civil rights and against crime,’ many seemed to feel that anyone against crime must also be against civil rights.”” He also provides some statistics on victims demonstrating that they are mostly blacks. Then author specifically discuss situation in New York.

7: Blue-Collar Whites Are “Rediscovered” (in Middle American Gotham)

Author begins this chapter with discussion of environment – poor air conditions in New York then moves to relationship between parts of GOP: liberal as presented by Lindsay and more conservative by Nixon. Author then stresses cultural changes that were quite negative for lower middle class:” The counterculture had inverted common values. Serving your country was now bad. The flag was denigrated. “Suckers” worked for “the Man.” Marriage was compared to “colonization.” Housewives were compared to servants. Being a workingman, once a badge of honor, was the image of the piggish and plodding yeomanry, a genus of man presumed too dumb to even recognize its ennui. And the condemnation often came from “rich kids” able to “turn on, tune in, drop out”—those who could afford to be a hippie.” All these generated a torrent of articles about blue color whites and also some cultural response.

8: Those Who Did the Fighting and Dying

In this chapter author discusses growing class division in attitudes to patriotism and service between upper and middle classes. If during WWII Hollywood celebrities and rich served in military and were proud of it, by the middle of Vietnam war it become acceptable not only avoid service, but even wave enemy flag or visit enemy military position to demonstrate support for their struggle against “American imperialism”.

9: The New Left and the “Great Test for Liberals”

In this chapter author discusses emergence of the New left. It was rejecting not only Vietnam, but also key elements of American society. Once again author uses Lindsay as example, by reviewing in details Lindsay run for reelection that demonstrated its clash between old liberals on one hand and attempts unite on the other.

10: Building the Twin Towers, Ethnic New York, and Race

Here author moves a bit away from politics to discuss massive construction projects like twin towers that brought into the city multitude of blue color construction workers. Author also discusses development of different ethnic groups.

11: Cambodia and Kent State;

By 1970 antiwar movement developed to such extent that it become source of constant conflict between state and big part of population, which culminated in Kent State shooting. Author discusses Nixon and cabinet reaction to these events.

12: Kent State Shakes New York

Here author presents narrative of impact on people in New York. He then describes beginning of demonstration on May 7, 1970.

PART TWO “Bloody Friday”
13. USA All the way! 14. Melee; 15. “About Time the Silent Majority Made Some Noise”; 16. Violence Becomes “Contagious”; 17.”We’ve Lost Control!”; 18. The Riot Spreads; 19.”I’m Not Having City Hall Taken Over on My Watch”; 20. Full Circle to Federal Hall.
The chapters of this part describe in great details the fight, who hit whom, when, and where. The general presentation is that hardhats had overwhelming advantage in numbers and passion, so they beat a lot of Yippies up. Interestingly enough when it came to the fight many of Yippies expected and demanded protection from police, which they attacked and denigrated for months. Unsurprisingly police provided such protection only in extreme cases and without any enthusiasm whatsoever.

PART THREE Afterward and Aftermath

21. The Days After: Knicks Utopia, a Fraught City, and Nixon at the Brink

Author begins this chapter with reference to another America, the one that was watching NBA games, but then returns to aftermath of rioting, describing Nixon’s reaction and his walk to Lincoln memorial and talk with students.

22.The Riot Reverberates; 23. “Workers’ Woodstock”
These two chapters describe the following days when huge numbers of workers went to the streets protest against leftist protesters and local authorities like Lindsay who supported leftists.  

24. “Our People Now”: Nixon Sees a Future in an Un-Silent Majority
This brief chapter is about Nixon’s and his team reaction to these events and their actions that were designed to connect with unions and retain mass support.

25. Honor America Day
Here author moves a few months later to 4th of July when some 400,000 people came to Washington Mall for Honor America day. There were also protesters against America coming from all over the country trying to spoil celebration.

26.”Born with a Potmetal Spoon”: Nixon Launches the GOP’s Blue-Collar Strategy
Here author describes political implication and reorientation of Nixon administration away from traditional GOP relaying on educated classes to seeking mass support from blue color workers who were increasingly going under pressure from early results of open competition from recovered economies of Europe and Asia that with their cheap labor start undermining prosperity of American workers.

27.How America(s) Saw It
Here author discusses reaction and what is interesting is the leftist’s attempt to present events as racial controversy even if it was white construction workers beating up white students. Here is author’s general description of attitudes:” In the final measure, the antiwar movement was less popular than the Vietnam War. After 1968, most Americans deemed Vietnam a mistake. By 1971, six in ten lamented the war. That same year, roughly two-thirds of the public condemned antiwar protests. Meanwhile, in this era, only about five of every hundred Americans demonstrated against the Vietnam War. It was the vehemence and violence, the concentration of that protest at colleges—especially elite schools, especially as the mass media began its unending fixation on youth—that rocked American life. Americans were against both the war and the antiwar movement. In this sense, most hardhats were indicative of the wider public—not in their violence, but in their cause. Indeed, for those actually listening to Peter Brennan, he consistently stated he wanted the war ended. Ultimately, most doves didn’t even like the antiwar activists. Back in September 1968, after the Chicago convention, two-thirds of those who wanted to deescalate the Vietnam War backed Mayor Daley’s use of police “to put down the demonstrators.” Seven in ten whites, and the plurality of blacks, saw “radical troublemakers” as the cause of student unrest, rather than “deeply felt” beliefs in the “injustices in society.” Even among whites who thought the Vietnam War was a “mistake,” two-thirds thought “most student unrest” was caused by “radical troublemakers” rather than a belief in societal “injustices.”

28.The End of the Beginning

The final chapter describes what happened next: country’s turn away from liberalism and leftist movement and Nixon’s landslide victory in 1972. Author ends, however, making point that position of working class was continued deteriorating with globalization and that eventually we arrived to current point – Trump election in 2016 and raise of resistance by bureaucracy and government dependent part of society.

MY TAKE ON IT:

It is a nice example for just in time historical analysis that was more up to date than author could possibly imagine. The events of 2020 when stress on population produced by pandemic and resulted economic crises prompted explosion of somewhat strange race riots when leftist mainly white rioters in the name of “racial justice” destroyed many small, mainly black and Asian immigrant owned businesses, attacked and denigrated blue color police officers of all races, and attacked all kinds of American symbols: burning flags, pulling down monuments, and demanding destruction of American society. Somewhat similarly to GOP realigning with “silent majority” after hardhat riots, Democratic party massively moved left openly declaring intention to destroy capitalism and establish socialism, albeit in “democratic” form. As of the moment of this writing some 25 days before election of 2020 there is general feeling that country is moving to civil war. I think that the feeling is correct and civil war is just around the corner, but I believe it will be either very brief, with small number of casualties if America wins elections, democrats lose election at all levels, and socialism is defeated or it could be more protracting fight with much more casualties if America defeated, coalition of democrats, socialists, communists, and anti-white racists takes power and try to remove Bill of Rights in its entirety and turn country into vassal state to Chinese communist party. In either case I expect America of 1776 to win and initiate its own revolution to overthrow Administrative state established beginning in 1933.


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