Apocalypse

Friday A/V Club: The Terror Wave of the '70s

Before you go rushing off to declare we're in a civil war...

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You never have to look far to find Americans in an apocalyptic mood. Here's how The New York Post reacted to last night's shootings in Dallas:

New York Post

"Civil war"? This is absurd.

Look: I'm not going to try to tell you we're living through a joyful time of harmony. The country does appear to be more violent now than it was two years ago, and it's not hard to imagine ways that things could get still worse. Everyone has their go-to narratives in times of apocalyptic anxiety, and mine tends to be "Have a little historical perspective. We've been through much harder times in the not-so-distant past, and the long-term trends show a world that's mostly getting better." But go-to narratives can be a crutch, and the fact is that a lot of things really do look pretty bleak at the moment. Some of the phantoms that have frightened people for years are actually manifesting now. It's not crazy at all to worry about where we're heading.

But yesterday's violence was not a clash between two great forces. It was a shooter firing into a crowd that had been marked—and, in the chaos, continued to be marked—by cooperation rather than conflict between the cops and protesters. The killer may well have seen himself as the vanguard of an uprising, but as best as we can tell right now, his army consists of approximately one person. (*) This was not a battle, a riot, or a siege. It was a spasm.

And yes, it's unnerving to have this come so soon after the assaults in Orlando and San Bernardino. But at the risk of falling back into my go-to narrative: We've seen worse. Not just during the actual Civil War evoked by that Post headline, but in my lifetime. In the 1970s—a decade often remembered as the calm after the stormy '60s—America saw a long wave of bombings and shootings by self-styled guerrillas. 1975, a year the FBI blamed 89 domestic bombings on terrorists, wrapped up with a still-unsolved explosion at LaGuardia Airport two days before New Year's Eve. Eleven people were killed by the bomb, and another 74 were seriously injured. Here's a radio report from the evening it happened, complete with that hallmark of breaking terror news—the initially inflated body count:

And here, courtesy of the AP, is some footage from the wreckage:

The 1960s and '70s weren't a civil war either—not in the ordinary sense of the phrase—but they still came a lot closer than anything we're undergoing now. So by all means, go ahead and feel bleak today. But try not to let a tabloid's alarmist headline pull you too far into an apocalyptic fever-dream.

(For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.)

(* This passage has been updated to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security has said there was probably just one shooter. Three other people have been arrested in connection with the killings, but it is unclear why.)

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  1. Civil War is okay, and then Spider-Man showed up.

    Time to split the country into tribal units.

    1. Spider-Man was the best part of the movie.

      And I say that as someone severely anti-Spider-Man.

      1. Uh, I’m a huge Spider-Man fan, and they finally stopped casting 30-year-olds for the role of a high school student. Spider-Man’s appearance, while not the best part of the movie, made it notch up from okay to good. SPOILER ALERT.

      2. He was at least a well-cast Spider-Man.

  2. The 1970s were PEAK FREEDOM too

    1. Which may be why the government didn’t overreact to the deadly terrorism of Barack Obama’s ghostwriter, Tupac’s Aunt, and a future B-moviestar newspaper heiress.

      1. Who was Tupac’s aunt?

        1. She’s in Cuba, I think. Something Shakur. Militant activist.

          1. Assata Shakur

            Cop-killer

            Murdered a New Jersey State Trooper

    2. You mean PEAK HAIR

  3. Is this war about slavery too? /lights robot bomb and runs away

  4. The Civil War wasn’t even a civil war.

    1. Yes. It was an armed rebellion. The South never intended to or tried to change the government in the North.

      1. It wasn’t an armed rebellion, since that implies that the separate states were not allowed to secede from the union.

        It was a secession, followed by a war by two adjoining countries where one invaded the other in an attempt to conquer the territory and forcibly make the states rejoin a union.

        1. a war by two adjoining countries where one invaded the other in an attempt to conquer the territory and forcibly make the states rejoin a union

          And abolish slavery. There was that part, too.

  5. How can you be so calm when it’s World War Three out there!

  6. WHAT?? An overly-dramatic headline on the New York Post?? That’s never happened before!!

  7. I do remember those days when airline hijackings were done by sideburned, leather-jacket wearing gunmen donning sunglasses who were sometimes treated like Robin Hood by the media.

    Hell I remember the one back in the 80s where the hijackers literally beat a man to death in the aisle of a plane and then got star-like treatment from western media.

    1. Or when they hijacked the cruise ship and threw the Jewish guy in a wheelchair overboard. Those guys got rock star treatment. So, did the Black September assholes who murdered the Jewish athletes at Munich. They were treated with reverence by the media.

      The media has always been the scum of the earth.

      1. I think his name was Leon Klinghoffer. I remember that mostly because I went to a Halloween party shortly thereafter where somebody came as him, complete with wheelchair and gunshot wound to the head. He was going around asking everyone, “Are you Sikh?!”.

        I guess you had to be there….

        1. How do you make a Klinghoffer cocktail?

          Two shots and a splash.

      2. An opera could be made out of that story.

      3. Or when they hijacked the cruise ship and threw the Jewish guy in a wheelchair overboard. Those guys got rock star treatment. So, did the Black September assholes who murdered the Jewish athletes at Munich. They were treated with reverence by the media.

        I don’t remember either of these groups getting adulatory coverage. Quite the opposite. What outlets are you thinking of?

        Skyjackers, on the other hand, did sometimes get cast as dashing antiheroes.

        1. There were some news docs made in the 80s about Black September that portrayed those animals as glamorous freedom fighters.

    2. I do remember those days when airline hijackings were done by sideburned, leather-jacket wearing gunmen donning sunglasses who were sometimes treated like Robin Hood by the media.

      +1 D. B. Cooper

      1. DB was a proper criminal. He never hurt anyone and he just wanted cash. And God knows he had balls. Jump out of a jet with a parachute takes balls.

        1. True – I was struck more by the “Robin Hood” element, as once Cooper jumped out of the jet, the “dirty thief” angle got replaced by “man that guy had balls!”

          1. He didn’t hurt anyone except probably himself and even back then, who didn’t hate the airlines?

  8. Oh man, I have to change my pants again.

  9. Wasn’t it Lanny Friedlander who noted, “Americans are caught in a street war between two breeds of pigs” in Reason back in the sixties?

    1. That was a more… colorful way of saying what Ayn Rand had already said.

  10. twitter.com/TimAlberta/status/751410280626843648

    The DNC statement on last night. It gets around to talking about Dallas in the 4th paragraph. This is why Trump very well may win in November. The Democrats have gone insane. Eleven police officers were murdered in cold blood in a Mumbei style attack last night and the Democrats’ response to that is “we really need to talk about these two other shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana”, neither of which have been fully investigated and both of which may well result in charges against the officer involved.

    I am sorry but that is insane. And anyone not also insane who reads that will see it as such.

    1. Only four were murdered.

      The Alton Sterling shooting seems like an edge case, at best. He was a long-time violent felon, with an illegal gun, fighting with police. Yeah, I’m not surprised he got shot.

      1. I thought the death toll last night was eleven. It was only four?

      2. I guess it was 11 wounded and five killed. I thought it was 11 killed. The reaction was still insane.

      3. “Mumbai style” is a bit hyperbolic as well. It was a guy (or a few guys; not sure what the current info is) with a rifle.

        1. It was multiple armed people attacking in a major city in a coordinated way. It most certainly was Mumbei style. That is actually a term of art in the counter terrorism filed describing exactly what happened last night. It doesn’t have to be of the same scale to be of the same style of attack.

          1. -1 “assault-style” rifle

          2. OK. I’d never heard the term used that way. Seems like there should have been a word for that before the Mumbai attack.

          3. But really how coordinated was it really? Get a few guys with rifles and shoot at people in uniforms.

            But looking at a quick search for “Mumbai style” I guess it’s as opposed to grand 911 style attacks.

    2. Kinda like the Charlie Hebdo guys had it coming to them because they insulted someone’s religion.

  11. “Dallas suspect Micah X. Johnson was an enlisted Army Reserve soldier”

    The Army confirmed Friday that the Dallas shooting suspect killed in a standoff with police was a veteran. Micah X. Johnson, a 25-year-old living outside of Dallas, had served in the U.S. Army Reserve as a junior enlisted soldier and completed a tour in Afghanistan, The Associated Press reported. He was a “carpentry and masonry specialist,” CNN reported, and though he likely got basic training on firearms it is “unclear whether he received more advanced training.”

    1. And the media breaths a sigh of relief. This had nothing to do with BLM or hatred of white people. He was just another dangerous veteran.

      1. It was definitely not a hate crime. He was responding to white hate. [That will be the official PC take on all of this.]

    2. I hope, for the sake of our soldiers, that Army basic firearms training teaches how to fire a rifle into a massed group of targets and score hits. I am sorry, for the sake of the injured and killed, that it was more effective than police handgun training.

      1. He may well have learned more from paintball and video games

  12. http://www.wfaa.com/news/crime…../267260288

    At least the people of Dallas didn’t let a crisis go to waste. There is that.

  13. What we have here is failure to communicate.

  14. I am shocked, SHOCKED! that the New York Post would engage in hyperbole.

  15. http://twitchy.com/samj-3930/2…..two-tales/

    John Lewis is a piece of shit. God what a dirtbag.

    1. A civil rights “hero” who turns out to be a really shitty human being upon closer examination? Whoever heard of such a thing?

  16. The country does appear to be more violent now than it was two years ago, and it’s not hard to imagine ways that things could get still worse.

    Except, if you quit going by feelings brought on by selective news coverage, and look at statistics, it would appear you are wrong (with the caveat that these are government statistics and thus might not be entirely reliable):

    mises.org/blog/fbi-us-homicide-rate-51-year-low

    1. SF’d the link:

      “The US homicide rate in 2014, the most recent year available, was 4.5 per 100,000. The 2014 total follows a long downward trend and is the lowest homicide rate recorded since 1963 when the rate was 4.6 per 100,000. To find a lower homicide rate, we must travel back to 1957 when the total homicide rate hit 4.0 per 100,000.

      Homicide rates were considerably higher in the United States during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, but over the past 25 years, have fallen nearly continuously:”

      1. 2014 was 2 years ago. It’s quite possible that it has gone up a bit since then. Just sayin’.

        1. 2014 was 2 years ago.

          Exactly. I wrote “than it was two years ago” for a reason.

          We have only preliminary stats for 2015 and early 2016, but they suggest a recent increase in violent crime. Hopefully it’s just a bump before the decline resumes, but we can’t say that for sure.

  17. I was a teen during the ’70s, and while it’s true that memory of the earlier times of one’s life can be flawed I agree with the basic premise of the article. Some of the details are different but the concerns that we had about the shitty economy and the politicians’ bullshit “solutions” (e.g. Gerald Ford’s “Whip Inflation Now” campaign, with the “WIN” lapel buttons), crime, race relations, terrorism feel pretty much the same.

    1. Watching the evening news back then was a rockin’ party.

    2. Race relations seemed much better than now by my memory.

      1. Race relations were way worse, but got talked about way less. That is the irony of our contemporary moment.

  18. Then there was that horrific backlash against disco. It got pretty ugly.

    1. The four Super Bowl losses by the Vikings.

      1. Connoisseurs of Swedish pop always prefer Ace of Base.

        1. The Ace of Base sisters were much hotter than that sisters in Abba.

      2. Connoisseurs of Swedish pop always prefer Ace of Base.

    2. backlash against disco. It got pretty ugly.

      If by ugly you mean “glorious.”

  19. Who the fuck reads the New York Post?

  20. It’s not civil war it’s REVOLUTION!

    1. “WHEN THE LAW NO LONGER PROTECTS YOU FROM THE CORRUPT BUT PROTECTS THE CORRUPT FROM YOU, YOU KNOW YOUR NATION IS DOOMED.”

      AYN RAND

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