• Robert

Taking Back Our Country

Updated: Nov 17, 2018

“There were two Americas in Chicago, but there always are.”

Arthur Miller / 1969

Youth International Party  (Yippie) logo

Abbie Hoffman, radical activist,  provocateur

This August will mark five decades (50 years) since the Democratic National Convention convened in Chicago and was the scene of massive anti war protests and the rioting of the Chicago Police Department. And culminating in the nomination of Hubert Humphrey for the presidency.

Chicago’x Mayor Richard J Daley (Democratic king maker)

As a  college junior who was already becoming radicalized by a growing consciousness of the oppression of blacks and latinos and indigenous peoples and an ill conceived war (that was consistent with an imperialist foreign policy) I took to streets and the parks that week and witnessed events  have stayed with me the past 50 years. The chanting of “The streets belong to people” —by demonstrators  who were assaulted by the Chicago Police Department in Grant Park and chased into the streets, ending up at the  Conrad Hilton Hotel, is yet an uplifting memory.

Another great moment that I recall vividly was dark horse presidential candidate Senator Eugene McCarthy crossing the street from the Conrad Hilton to the park to address the crowd as the US government in exile…

Sparked by the memory of that event and acknowledging the dark time that has overtaken the United States, I would like to join anyone who is willing to create a celebration/rally two months before the crucial 2018 mid term elections with the goal of energizing a movement to throwing the bums out and  taking back the country.

Aug. 28, 1968: During the Democratic National Convention, Chicago police charge into crowd of antiwar demonstrators in Grant Park. This photo was published in the Aug. 29, 1968 Los Angeles Times.

Norman Mailer at Grant Park Band Shell (Copyright 2018 Robert Birnbaum)

C. Natale Peditto opines:

Reading… Norman Mailer’s Miami and the Siege of Chicago, we recognize a writer at the peak of his literary and journalistic talents. This was a period in Mailer’s career that included the remarkably wrought Armies of the Night, which earned both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize; both books remain to this day preeminent, although unorthodox, examples of the New Journalism style. What Mailer accomplished in these titles was to put himself, the author, in direct relationship to the events he was reporting—a third-person observer and simultaneous participant dedicated to revealing the public psyche while unraveling his own tangled motivations and ideology. In Armies of the Night, as the novelist and historian, he writes in measured prose with acuity and strength; in Miami and the Siege of Chicago, as “the reporter,” he is caught up in the pathos of the event… The penultimate chapter of Miami and the Siege of Chicago, Mailer’s gossiping with the journalists at the bar as they pronounce their cynical assessments about the future of American politics, is a last call for the author to self-reflect among the petty Mafia in the cocktail lounge, regarding organized crime as the alternative to the military-industrial corporations (“if one had to choose between the Maf running America and the military-industrial complex, where was one to choose?”) and expressions of bad faith when faced with the writer’s bitter task of completing his assignment. These are the final notes of Chicago’s brutal night song, a confrontation with the local police that almost puts Mailer in their clutches for a beating or arrest, or both. Mailer’s parting shot, “we will be fighting for forty years,” is prescient enough and ample reason to take him at his word

This Land Is Your Land Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land This land is my land From California to the New York island; From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway, I saw above me that endless skyway: I saw below me that golden valley: This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts; And all around me a voice was sounding: This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling, And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling, As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting: This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.” But on the other side it didn’t say nothing, That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people, By the relief office I seen my people; As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me, As I go walking that freedom highway; Nobody living can ever make me turn back This land was made for you and me.


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