Summers Of Discontent – July 1966
The phrase “Long, Hot Summer” was destined to become a yearly occurrence by 1966. Since 1964, when Harlem in New York erupted, Summer came to mean a time of frustration, anger and insufferable heat; along with gunfire, teargas and the smell of burning buildings.
And 1966 proved to be no different. While the country was still digesting the after-effects of Watts only a year earlier, the cities of Cleveland Ohio and New York City were turned into battle zones. But by the week ending on July 24th, the violence was dying down, until the next time. And nobody knew when that next time would be.
Meanwhile, in Washington – the situation in Vietnam was now fostering grave doubts by a growing number of Senators and Congressmen on Capitol Hill. As criticisms of our Southeast Asia policy were growing, calls for China to finally be admitted to the United Nations were being heard. It was felt that, if China were part of the UN, our policy in Southeast Asia may be different. Among those disagreeing with the move for admitting Red China to the UN was none other than Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who thought admitting Red China would mean abandoning Formosa – and we had a commitment to Formosa.
And while all the talk back and forth about Southeast Asia policy was going on, the war in Vietnam continued. A major ground offensive was taking place near the border of North and South Vietnam. Operation Hastings, which involved some 8,000 U.S. Marines, battled North Vietnamese regulars, claiming some 600 North Vietnamese .
Secretary of State Dean Rusk talked about de-escalation in Vietnam and the threat North Vietnam was planning on trying captured U.S. flyers as war criminals. The hint of war-crimes trials sent a wave of shock throughout Capitol Hill, and many expressed outrage including former President Eisenhower. It was one more complicated element in a rapidly complicated and out-of-control war.
And that’s just a little of what went on this week – the week ending on Friday July 24th – as presented by ABC Radio’s Voices In The Headlines – 49 years ago.