rime called it "a year to be well
rid of." The Encyclopedia Bri-
tannica's Yearbook titled its
story "1970: A Year of Violence." All around the world, people
lashed out at other people; thousands of
Americans died in Vietnam; a federal
judge in California was taken from his
courtroom by black militants and killed
in a convict escape attempt; a Manhattan
townhouse thought to be a bomb factory
of the Weathermen blew up; Nixon and
Kissinger decided to invade Cambodia;
National Guardsmen killed four student
at Kent State University; police fired int
a crowd at Jackson State and killed two
more students; Arab commandoes hijacked airliners and killed people in
airports; Cambodians massacred Vietnamese civilians; and decimated Bia-
frans capitulated to Nigerian government
forces after a million died in 30 months
of their battle for independence.
The violence was daily, it was everywhere. Hell's Angels finished off the
Woodstock euphoria when they killed a
black man 20 feet from Mick Jagger, who
was singing Sympathy for the Devil. Jan is
Joplin and Jimi Hendrix died of drug
overdoses, and writer Yukio Mishima committed ritual suicide to protest Japan's
"spinelessness." United Mine Workers
official Joseph Yablonski, his wife and
daughter were found murdered in their
home and Tony Boyle, head of the union
and Yablonski's opponent for its presidency, was later convicted of the killing.
Murder charges were made against two
U.S. soldiers in connection with a massacre at My Lai, South Vietnam, and five
marines were charged with murdering 16
South Vietnamese women and children
while on patrol south of Da Nang. Whites
in Lamar, South Carolina, attacked and
overturned two buses carrying black
children to desegregated schools. Charles
Manson went on trial for the murders of
Sharon Tate Polanski and several other
people. A Bolivian artist nearly stabbed
Pope Paul VI in the Philippines.
Neither was the earth itself peaceful.
In Pakistan, a cyclone and tidal wave
killed 200,000 people and destroyed
500,000 homes. Floods in central Rumania killed at least 130. Seventy-two
people died in a mountain mudslide near
Saint-Gervaise, France, and giant avalanches in France and the Swiss Alps
buried 69 people. A massive earthquake
struck the mountains of Peru. Rivers
reached record flood levels in Yugoslavia,
Rumania and Hungary. The largest brush
A year that roared with hatred and violence,
but went out like a lamb
BY DAVID CROSSLEY
fire in California history raged near the
Mexican border. Hurricane Celia smashed
into the coast at Corpus Christi, killing 31
No continent was without mayhem.
The Irish fought each mother with guns,
bombs, sticks, and stones. Throughout
South America, coups toppled one leader
after another. Portugal invaded Guinea.
Poles rioted over food prices for a week.
Basque guerrillas killed and were killed.
The Middle East was the site of sporadic,
general, undeclared war: Israel was attacked from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and
the United Arab Republic (Egypt), and
responded in kind.
4 II trace of civility vanished,
especially in the United States,
where students and other protestors referred to police and
politicians as "pigs" and the President,
Richard Nixon, called students "thugs
and hoodlums." Vice President Spiro
Agnew continued his effort to ignite civil
war, railing weekly against students,
leftists, intellectuals, teachers, the media,
and all the great unwashed outside the
imagined "Silent Majority." When he gave
a speech in Houston, demonstrators
chanted "Lee Harvey Oswald, where are
you now that we need you?"
It was the war in Vietnam that did it,
that drove the world mad, and it was in
1970 that complete societal disintegration in the U.S. seemed imminent. In May
of that year, the Brandeis University student strike center reported that 448 American universities and colleges were closed
or on strike. But as the police and national guard became more and more violent,
the student "unrest," as it was called,
began to quiet, and by the end of the
decade, the universities were calm. Never
again did students against the war rally in
significant numbers, although Vietnam
went on until 1975.
During 1970 the American split over a
single issue was fractured into many issues
and the age of "special interest groups"
was born, soon to collapse in the final refuge of the Me Decade, which continues
unabated as we begin the 1980s.
In exactly 10 years we have come
from a tumultuous time when war and
blood were the central issues and thousands were impassioned enough to kill or
be killed, to a time when oil and money
are the central issues and American dissent is just a murmur.
What happened to us in 1970? The
Encyclopedia Britannica said, "In 1970
President Nixon managed to neutralize
the war in Vietnam as a political issue."
How? Was it the guns and bombs, the
Nixon-Kissinger "toughness" and willingness to wreak any destruction on anybody anywhere to prove that toughness?
Was it the absurdity of the same Nixon
sneaking out of the White House in the
middle of the night to go talk about football to camping protestors at the Washington Monument? Or was it the final split
within the peace movement, when women
finally wanted to be with women, and
men with men, and blacks with blacks,
and Chicanos with Chicanos, ultimately
to find fault with each other? Was it the
seeming collapse of the environment that
in those pre-OPEC days was viewed as the
number one calamity by nearly everyone,
from the first Earth Day revelers to Henry Ford to Richard Nixon? And how has
it come to pass that nearly all special interest groups are now willing to trade just
about any ecological disaster for a few
pages of legislation favoring their own
cause, as though the environment was
some "special interest" and not the concern of everyone on the planet?
Or was humanity frightened by
the pictures from space of the
cold blue earth with no sign
whatsoever of the long millenia
of human activity? Were Quaaludes increasingly required because at last we
could see that the earth was too small,
too fragile to be saved? How did we feel,
the millions of us who learned for the
first time that, regardless of our care, the
earth was doomed to be swallowed up by
the fire of the sun as it becomes a red
giant in half a billion years, taking humanity with it? How hopeful can we be, now
that we know even the earth must die,
and for that matter the sun and the solar
system and all of the universe?
Is it because of this realization that so
many in the last 10 years turned to seemingly mysterious eastern philosophies,
looking for immortality, some trick that
will take us through the blackest hole of
all, the end of our universe and the creation of some new universe on the other
side? Do we turn our attention to our
souls and to their journey through time?
And is the question of morality that always has surrounded the soul vanishing?
We have always assumed that activity
such as that we're watching in Iran will
only earn the players a place in some
special eternal hell; but now that they
think we are doomed to that same hell—
and we cannot see why they think so—do
we soon have to reject forever as too
confusing the very notion of hell?
Or, as some suggest, should we reject
forever the notion of souls and self and
get used to the idea that we are nothing
special, just part of the vast chemistry of
time and space—with a function, to be
sure, however minute—doomed to proceed antlike to our end?
I don't think so. By 1970, we had
learned about one important thing: consciousness. It has become a trite word, a
buzz word, but it's meaning continues to
hold truth. For all of our simple chemical
connection to the rest of the universe and
to eternity, we are special—we are aware.
However much we may be like electrons
in some giant model, however much society begins to resemble a computer circuit, there is one difference. We are
aware of it, as individuals, and we can
change the model from within. ^^
David Crossley is an editor of Breakthrough.
1970: A Chronology
On the front page this New Year's
Day of the new decade is this headline:
"Gl War Toll Goes Over 40,000."
The Agriculture Department announces a ban on paprika in most meat products because it can mask "undesirable
qualities" from the consumer.
The Dow Jones stands at 800.36.
The city council and mayor okay pay
raises for police and firefighters. A first
year "patrolman" or "pipe and ladder-
man" will earn $625 per month instead
of $600. Elsewhere, receptionists jobs
go for $375 to $400 each month.
President Nixon okays Spanish-speaking and -surname headcount in the next
Jimmy Hoffa, in jail, asks Nixon to
commute his sentence.
A contract is awarded to create Lake
Lloyd Bentsen is "seriously considering" a senate race against Ralph Yarborough.
Boston scientist Bernard D. Davis,
who was first to isolate a single gene,
tells reporters that "test tube life is not
in the near future." (Less than a year
later, biologists at State University of
New York in Buffalo report the first artificial synthesis of a living cell.)
Delores Heller, of Norfolk, Virginia,
shoots a boa constrictor in her kitchen.
No one knows how it got into her kitchen, or to Norfolk, for that matter.
The U.S. "expressed regrets" to
Cambodia for casualties caused during a
battle on the South Vietnamese border.
In London, news leaks of a U. S.
Middle East plan that would let Egyptian
president Nasser veto any settlement between Israel and Jordan.
Israeli jets knock out the East Ghor
Canal on the east bank of the Jordan
The Office of Economic Opportunity
says Texas has more low income citizens
than any other state.
There are 203 million people in the
Nearly 60 percent of the people are
optimistic about the 1970's.
Newspaper editors select the Apollo
11 moon landing as the top news story
of the previous year and decade.
Dr. Ralph S. Ryback, speaking to
the American Association for the Advancement of Science, says ethanol in
alcohol affects the brain's memory for
recent events. "As a result," he says,
"participants at a cocktail party jump
from one topic to another because they
forget what they were talking about,
where they were in the conversation,
and what the other person said."
Daily oil consumption in the U. S.
is 13.5 billion barrels.
The price of a barrel of oil is $2 to $3
Among the movies showing in Houston are Bob and Carol and Ted and
Alice, Easy Rider, On Her Majesty's
Secret Service, Viva Max, John and Mary,
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,
The Reivers and The Sterile Cuckoo.
The University of Texas football
team finishes the 1969 season number
one in the nation, and on this day beats
Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl, 21-17.
Henry Ford calls pollution "the most
A new Buick Skylark with air conditioning costs $2795 at Al Parker Buick.
A Ford Maverick can be bought for
$1888. A top-of-the-line Chevrolet
Monte Carlo costs $2586. There aren't
many foreign cars for sale, but a Toyota
costs $1790 and a new 1969 Peugeot is
selling for $2369.
There is a sales promotion manager's
job advertised for $13,000 per year, and
an assistant controller/chemicals can
make $12,000 a year. Go-go dancers are
paid $125 per week.
A Dalmatian costs $50.
Several houses are for sale in River
Oaks for $40,000-$60,000.
It is J. Edgar Hoover's seventy-fifth
Mrs. Betty Crichton of Harlow,
England, undergoes her second sterilization operation, the day after giving birth
to her sixth child.
Pope Paul VI prays forgiveness for
"giant industries" prospering on their
"diabolical capacity to produce arms"
and for powerful nations basing their
stability on "trading arms to poor nations lacking plows, schools and hospitals." In his plea for peace, he says,
"Lord, it is true! We are not on the right
Nixon signs the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, creating the
Council on Environmental Quality.
Israel threatens to take over a 19-
mile section of Lebanon in the Gilead
B-52s resume bombing in Vietnam.
Louie Welch is sworn in for his fourth
term as mayor of Houston.
A Chinese news report says Russia is
preparing for war with China.
A Senate subcommittee opens hearings
on the dangers of oral contraceptives.
Muammar el-Kaddafy becomes premier
■bbmwwmjiwiiii i mi inn i ujjuij i
Israeli jets bomb military targets near
Nixon nominates G. Harold Carswell to
the U.S. Supreme Court. (The Senate
had rejected Nixon's first nominee, Clement F. Haynesworth, Jr. It later does
the same to Carswell, and Nixon is not
The Boeing 747 begins commercial service with a flight from New York to
The U.S. command in Saigon announces U.S. jets bombed an anti-aircraft installation inside North Vietnam two
Also this month:
The Agriculture Department proposes a ban on the use of animal lungs
in hot dogs.
Gina Lollobrigida is criticized for
wearing a tiger skin coat.
Arab terrorists kill one Israeli and wound
11 other people in a Munich airport.