ethel’s words

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THE SIXTIES: HOLDING HANDS

What year was that? In the Utah Fairgrounds Coliseum, crowd capacity of thousands and filled to the last standing room--four persons stood up at the right moment. Four: A white Angla, a Navajo, a Jew, and a Mormon.

We did not think of ourselves as representatives of groups; we were friends--disparate persons who felt good vibes and learned we had values in common. At that time, we were there to protest a despicable and tragic massacre sponsored by our government, an ugly killing spree that shattered lives of American youths, and life, culture, and landscape of Viet Nam.

We four stood up and held hands in the crossover style of that day. Someone noticed, stood up. Soon all of the persons in that Coliseum were standing and holding hands.

It is not merely standing up that brings others to stand. There has to be understanding and agreement. When three of those same persons stood to honor United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, ready to give the Commencement address at the University of Utah (the LIBERAL oasis of Utah!) not another person stood. We were fully visible.

Utah media had cast a large shadow, and the supposedly educated, supposedly enlightened, had not found their way to sunshine.

THE SIXTIES

The camaraderie, the joy of hope, the sensed (but not intellectualized) belief in a poetic sort of justice, all evaporated. (Not quite: Students For A Democratic Society (SDS), the Civil Rights Movement, and the protest against our war on Viet Nam, all left institutionalized accomplishments.) I have no theory; few observations. I see the leaders of the Viet Nam protest (and the moved forward veterans of the Civil Rights Movement) in respectable positions in Academe, in elected and in appointed positions in government, not compromised, it seems to me, but what result?

:We are living under a non-elected Fascist oil-wealthy CIA-raised dictator, called “president”, and this ugly reign is showering death on a people far away and totally non-threatening to us. The soldiers sent to do this foul work are few, not representative of our enormous population. There is no draft to reach out and grab the sons of the rich or of the powerful.

The table of terrors presented to the gullible fear/hate Yankee American people to get their war juices flowing, looked like poor fabrication and were immediately rebutted, but the trusting, war-loving, right-of-center Americans chose Bush’s blood bath. The commercial media, of course, supported the right-wing policies. The undertone (or overtone?) of the kill ’em propaganda, was “terrorism”. An “ism” with even less credibility than the “Bolshevism” and “Communism” of previous campaigns. Some buildings were blown apart and/or knocked down by “terrorists”, seemingly a “proven” fact. But grave (pardon the tragic pun) doubts abound on every aspect of that act of war, act of sabotage, or act of conspiracy.

Count a few of the “conspiracies” accepted by most if not all historians. The Spanish American War, our war against Mexico, World War I constructs, the ship outside North Viet Nam. We should take, at least, a quick glance at the blockade of the food route from Guam to Japan before World War II.

The nascent Fascism in Yankee America threatens to become full-fledged. But so far demonstrators are only arrested, not shot down in the street (en masse). There seem to be few, but how can we know?

Technological advance has set back grass roots communication; various modes draw small groups apart. Communication is by “not-everybody” internet, not a means that could reach everyone with the same message, same time. We are immobilized, silent, miserable, awaiting some new disaster. Is that correct? I am not sure.

After the stunning success of forty thousand Latinos filling Salt Lake City streets, nothing more has happened to inspire hope. Not many are holding hands, so far as I can see. I miss the printed undergrounds of the Sixties. I do not yet get much nourishment from the NET.

Ethel C. Hale