THE RIOT STUFF
Covering the chaos outside 1968’s presidential conventions
ANACHRONISM WAS THE RULE at the political conventions of the summer of 1968. It was anachronism that generated both boredom and spectacular violence. On Miami Beach it was as if the cast of Our Town had been gathered and multiplied by a few thousand to fill out the GOP ranks: The Republicans were a party stuck in the past and trying to perpetuate it. In Chicago you could say the demonstrators represented the future and that the police who beat them and arrested them were punishing the future for coming too soon. Or you could say that they represented a practically prehistoric syncretism of traditions: Their Dionysian spirit was out of the Bronze Age; Allen Ginsberg’s “Om” chanting came from the Upanishads, circa the sixth century BCE; and the presence of clergy recalled the asceticism of the Desert Fathers, circa the third century CE.