5/30/2010

40 YEAR FLASHBACK CONTINUED

To make this a more complete effort I'm going to add some background to the 40 YEAR FLASHBACK diary.
In 1969 there was quite a surprise in the election for SGA (Student Government Association) President.
Jimmie Baxter became the first black president of the student body at Tennessee - in the heart of Republican East Tennessee it seemed that the progressives and radicals indeed had a chance to prosper. Jimmie's election poster seen in the picture above was silk screened on an aluminum foil background in bright dayglow colors and over the Spring it seems that they adorned most of the dormitory room window and every phone pole on campus.

Jimmie Baxter won that election after the first vote was thrown out and there was a second election.

John R. Long was a fraternity brother of mine and I was one of his campaign managers in that election but the following Spring in 1970 I found myself nominated a the Student Power Coalition Candidate to replace Jimmie Baxter.
Baxter had done a phenomenal job in the wake of the KENT STATE MURDERS helping to organize the student strike while keeping things peaceful and orderly. Jimmie sent me these images from his archives of the time in lieu of writing anything to add to these diaries. The NIXON GRAHAM event was after his term was over. Jimmie was in a position to know the degree to which local cops and DA's were willing to go to crush students and make them "examples". Many people owe Jimmie a debt of gratitude for keeping things under control. These are Jimmie's pictures












The Republican leadership in Knox County exemplified by Attorney General Ron Webster were itching to use anxious UT and KPD police to bust heads and to make UT protesters into some dangerous communist inspired radical group in the wake of the KENT STATE MURDERS. Baxter helped keep the student strike and protests peaceful and orderly and saved many from clubs and jail cells. Jimmie Baxter is now just retired as a US Attorney living in Knoxville. So that's what radical commies end up doing with their lives?
Baxter followed Christopher Whittle as SGA President and you may know that Chris once owned ESQUIRE MAGAZINE and Whittle Communications and was the founder of Channel One News and the EDISON SCHOOLS
You have to read the first 40 YEAR FLASHBACK diary to get the background on the KNOXVILLE 22 and my part in that particular Republican insanity. Three of the KNOXVILLE 22 were nominated to run for president as the SPC candidate and we had the first primary ever held at UT for a nomination. Progressives are so Democratic



We had the only "all indicted for felony" primary field and eventual ticket in SGA election history. Gus Hadorn, Peter Kami, Steve Levine and I were all facing absurd charges for Felony Inciting to Riot for the Knoxville 22 protest of the selection process for the new UT President Ed Boling later reduced to 'blocking the entrance to a doorway' and a $25 fine.

In the end there were 7 candidates that year for SGA president to succeed Jimmie Baxter and that was eventually reduced to five






Dave Dunaway was the YAF rightwing candidate, Gary Crawford was the Liberal, Bob Migliara was the centrist independent, I was the RADICAL and John Smith was my Phi Sig Fraternity brother and eventual winner of the race as the typical mainstream conservative UT fraternity type.
Smith got to meet with NIXON following the crusade appearance with Billy Graham and he announced that Nixon was "concerned about students and their problems".
Here is what GARRY WILLS had to say about John Smith in his brilliant piece about the NIXON GRAHAM debacle in ESQUIRE Magazine. - JESUS WEPT - BY GARRY WILLS How Nixon Used the Media, Billy Graham, and the Good Lord to Rap with Students at Tennessee U
And to cap it all, along came Smith, the Student President. He rode to Air Force One in the same car with Bebe Rebozo (who muttered, darkly, of the demonstrators. "There's only one way to handle them") and H. R. Haldeman's wife. Mrs. Haldeman asked Smith how the university's three-day strike after Kent State had been kept peaceful—he did not answer, what was the truth, that his black predecessor, Jimmie Baxter, kept the lid on, growling at students that they were outgunned by the cops.
On the plane, Nixon asked Smith what troubles the youth of today. Two things, he was answered—they think the war unconstitutional, and they need a higher goal than the merely material things. Smith had just heard both Nixon and Graham say, on the platform, that youth needs a higher goal than the merely material things. This is how the President discovers what is troubling youth. Smith, off the plane photographed, interviewed, sighed with relief that the President does understand and care for the youth. I talked, the day after, with Smith. Short, with a vacant fraternity face, his eyes bleared, he was suffering a political hangover after his bender of publicity. Did he think yesterday's Crusade a religious service or a political meeting? "Political." Was the aim to convince the nation that students would still welcome Nixon? "Yes." Is that a misconception? “Yes” Didn’t you help create that misconception with your telegram of welcomyou’re your praise for Nixon? "Well, I do believe he understands our problems." What about the telegram? I think most of the students here would welcome a chance to see the President." Even under these phony auspices? "Probably." Do you consider that an informed or an informed preference? "Uninformed I suppose." Yet you cater to it? "Well, I just wanted to size up the President for myself. I don't opinions about people I have not met." You satisfied your curiosity: "Look, didn't I get a chance speak out against the war?" About it’s unconstitutionality? "Yes." Don’t you think kids would still oppose the war as immoral even if it was legal? "Sure, but I could denounce the war the same way radicals do and never get a chance to see President. It is a question of sounding off before 23,000 students or giving my views on the war to millions of television viewers." bleared eyes had lit up, last night fuming once more into his brain, an intoxicant. I left with a strong impression I could not, at first, define -- but eventually it came to me, I had been talking to a twenty-year old Nixon.
When you remember that this is Tricky Dick Nixon trying to fool the world into thinking he's welcome on any college campus in the wake of the KENT STATE MURDERS and the strikes that hit every campus in America. I guess that Liberty U., Oral Roberts and Bob Jones Universities were too obvious so a Graham Crusade in Neyland Stadium in Republican East Tennessee was the best option for this sham appearance.

During final exams we still got a nice sized crowd to put themselves on the line in front of 90,000 "christians", the Secret Service, and Knoxville cops who were more than happy to bust a few dirty hippie heads. Most of these students were raised in church going families like mine where my life long pastor Dr Charles Trentham had played golf with Graham prior to Nixon's visit that evening.



I think that the continuing development of the Republican Theocracy has so permeated the current US political world that these earlier obvious uses of religious events by evil men need remembering.
Tom Robbins in my favorite philosophical work SKINNY LEGS AND ALL expounds on the evil generated when politics mixes with religion. So much of what he offers there is pertinent to this example. For instance "The Divine was expansive, but religion was reductive. Religion attempted to reduce the Divine to a knowable quantity with which mortals might efficiently deal, to pigeonhole it once and for all so that we never had to reevaluate it. With hammers of cant and spikes of dogma, we crucified and crucified again, trying to nail to our stationary altars the migratory light of the world. Thus, since religion bore false witness to the Divine, religion was blasphemy. And once it entered into its unholy alliance with politics, it became the most dangerous and repressive force that the world has ever known." or "Conservatives understand Halloween, liberals only understand Christmas. If you want to control a population, don't give it social services, give it a scary adversary."
"Religion isn't the opium of the masses - it's the cyanide."
and "To emphasize the afterlife is to deny life. To concentrate on Heaven is to create hell. In their desperate longing to transcend the disorderliness, friction, and unpredictability that pesters life; in their desire for a fresh start in a tidy habitat, germ-free and secured by angels, religious multitudes are gambling the only life they may ever have on a dark horse in a race that has no finish line."
Liberal Progressives are too honest and sympathetic to use religion for a cynical political purpose. Republican's don't see the evil in their ways.
Once the Left Behind crew seeking Armageddon were considered marginal whack jobs but now they constitute the solid center of the Republican Party. This NIXON GRAHAM event was simply a preview of a far more terrible future of W saying that GOD told him to smite SADDAM or the Rapture and Creationism fans who prefer to lay waste to the environment in the name of Genesis "dominion theory" reinforced by their desire to hasten the Apocalypse and bring on the end of days.
In the face of that threat isn't it better to muse over a Tom Robbins quote than to face the outrage of Sarah and Rand in a bay of oil?

There will be additions to this series as soon as Bruce McCoy, shown here being arrested during the KNOXVILLE 22 protest after serving as a negotiator between the administration and the student protesters.

Chris Caron, a leader of the student protest people and the person most responsible for the campaign posters that helped elect Jimmie Baxter SGA president.

and a couple of other participants get it together to add their reflections and recall to this accurate history of a moment in time some forty years ago. We examine our past to understand our present and avoid a painful future.

If nothing else the first installment of this history put me back in touch with a few people who were there and that was with only 64 who viewed the diary. My hope is that this second chapter will yield more participants who can reach me via the comments and our 1970 Protest and Activism at UT Facebook Group
I suppose that this type of situation at Tennessee was repeated across the country at institutions of higher learning from Maine to California and it's the common elements of our collective experience in that incredible time that we share. 40 years have passed and the participants are ending their careers that were just beginning in 1970. This was a part of our beginning and it shaped our lives in many deep and fundamental ways.

5/29/2010

Nixon & Graham - The Aftermath Haunts Us

This is Part Three of 40 YEAR FLASHBACK - NIXON & GRAHAM at UT Part I and NIXON & GRAHAM Part II
With 22 arrested and almost none convicted in the wake of the KNOXVILLE 22 incident in Jan of 1970, the massacre of 4 unarmed students at Kent State on May 4th, the student strikes of May across the country as a result, and Nixon's 'successful' appearance in Neyland Stadium billed as his welcome on a major college campus followed by the arrests of some 66 students and faculty for daring to bring THOU SHALT NOT KILL signs to a religious worship service (the crime of disrupting a religious service); the war had come home to Tennessee in a personal and dramatic way.
After Martin Luther King Jr was murdered in Memphis TN in April of 68 and RFK was gunned down in LA in June of 69 we saw LBJ undermine HHH and watched the 68 election go to Richard Milhouse Nixon


Bobby had become the light of our hope for a better future for everyone

Martin was our common dream and conscience

Both lay dead in the ashes of our hopes and dreams while dangerous men like
NIXON and REAGAN

and George W Bush prevailed and the corporate oil and weapons interests prospered


Somehow the obvious isn't enough to encourage decent hard working American's to simply vote in their own best interest. The supposed "Christian" nation seems to prefer the self-serving greed of the super rich represented by Nixon and Bush to the hopes and dreams for a better future for average Americans represented by The REVEREND Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Francis Kennedy.

Al Gore's interest in preserving the environment for our children and grand-children is ridiculed by the many who seem to perfer the vested interests of the blood-sucking profiteers who claim record profits while providing the oil and weapons that cost them the lives of their children in Iraq and Afghanistan and threaten the future of their offspring.

The good men who made a difference for the average Americans lay dead or robbed by the rich and powerful.
According to a USA Today analysis that came out earlier this month, Americans paid their lowest share in taxes in nearly sixty years in 2009. At the same time, as this year’s annual Economic Report of the President pointed out, “in recent years nearly half of all income — including both wages and salaries and nonlabor income — has gone to 10 percent of families.” “The top 1 percent of families now receive nearly 25 percent of income, up from less than 10 percent in the 1970s,” the report said.
American's in general and particularly Republican East Tennesseans buy the ridiculous idea that liberals want to redistribute the wealth while viewing the proof that the wealth redistribution since the election of Ronald Reagan has been the greatest transfer of wealth from the middle class to the ultra-wealthy in the history of the world.
How can they sell this absurd idea that Republicanism is in the best interest of average Americans? How can an aged Aussie media magnate like Rupert Murdock, an overweight cigar chomping Oxycotin addict like Rush Limbaugh, a loud mouthed moron like Glenn Beck, silent majority religious fanatics like Falwell, Dobson, Haggard, Hagee, Bakker, Copeland, Swaggert, & Robertson and a vapid ditsy Alaskan Hockey mom like Sarah Palin, join a cheerleading C student AWOL business failure and capture political power in the United States of America?
They have nothing to offer the average American. There is nothing in the Republican political ideology or their legislative program that offers anything but a bleak future of war and poverty for the vast majority and fabulous personal wealth for a tiny minority. This was true in 1970 as it was after JFK was killed. At least LBJ had social programs that tried to deal with poverty and racism on his side despite capitulating to the military interests.

Our generation went to Woodstock and took to the streets to stop the war. We drove LBJ from office and forced tricky dick into showing his true nature by instilling a fear that resulted in the plumbers and Watergate. We joined the Peace Corps and burned our draft cards while popularizing a sentiment for anti-establishment political action rejecting the imperialism that propped up vicious killer dictators in third world outbacks where American financial interests exploited the resources for their own gain.

The Nixon appearance with Billy Graham was a glimpse into a grim future. It wasn't the first time religion and politics mixed in America to the detriment of all. I am currently reading AMERICAN THEOCRACY by Kevin Phillips

Too Many Preachers
In this section, Phillips refers to the large presence in the conservative coalition of religious Evangelicals and Pentecostals. He cites a statistic that 40% of the republican coalition is made up of such voters. He cites quotes by U.S. President George W. Bush suggesting that he is speaking for God (Phillips points to past leaders, such as Roman Dictator Julius Caesar who made similar statements.). He points to hostility by the social conservatives towards science in general, and Darwinian evolution in particular. But he particularly focuses on the end-times prophecies of what he refers to as Christian Reconstructionists.
Phillips starts this section by tracing the history of American religion. He argues that the pilgrims who emigrated to the New World before the American Revolution were religious outsiders, who were non-conformist and more radical than the establishment would allow (which was why they left Europe in the first place). He points to a history of highly emotional religious practices in the 17th and 18th centuries. He then argues that after "fundamentalist religion" (particularly Evangelical and the newly-formed Pentecostal branches) were set back after the Scopes Monkey Trial, they appeared to have been dealt a permanent blow. Phillips cites statistical studies that suggest that after this point, fundamentalist religion grew at a rapid rate, while mainstream denominations actually declined )
The Scopes Monkey Trial - yet another event in Tennessee - was a very public defeat for the fundamentalist Creationism world view, but here in 2010 we have a stronger than ever anti-evolutionist bent in this country exemplified in Texas by new standards "stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light." If Texas wants to teach fundamental stupidity in place of science would it not be beneficial to the country as a whole to encourage their secession along with Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Oklahoma? The rest of America would be substantially more pleasant without their participation in our politics.

On election eve in November of 72 I loaded up my Chevy Blazer and headed north to the border to permanently join friends who preceded me to Canada. Refusal to live in a country that would elect Nixon twice seemed to be the only option. I had spent the previous Summer working for George McGovern only to watch his miserable defeat.

(from right standing Jeff 'Stick' Davis and David 'Butch' McDade - Amazing Rhythm Aces, Nelda McDade, Steve Deady, Linda and Gordie Langsner, Susan Bozeman; In front from right - Jesse Winchester with son, Chris Caron with Linda Petrick.)
Our group of ex-patriots included Tennessee native singer-songwriter jesse Winchester and future members of the Amazing Rhythm Aces then playing with Jesse as Jesse and the Rhythm Aces.

from left Jesse Winchester, Butch McDade, and Jeff Stick Davis

Jesse Winchester was the music world's most prominent Vietnam War draft evader, though his renown came from a body of wry, closely observed songs. After growing up in Memphis, Winchester received his draft notice in 1967 and moved to Montreal, Canada, rather than serve in the military. In 1969, he met Robbie Robertson of the Band, who helped launch his recording career. In the same way that James Taylor's history of mental instability and drug abuse served as a subtext for his early music, Winchester's exile lent real-life poignancy to songs like "Yankee Lady," which appeared on his debut album, Jesse Winchester (1970). He became a Canadian citizen in 1973.

Despite critical acclaim, his inability to tour in the U.S. prevented him from taking his place among the major singer/songwriters of the early '70s, but he made a series of impressive albums -- Third Down, 110 to Go (August 1972), Learn to Love It (August 1974), Let the Rough Side Drag (June 1976), and Nothing But a Breeze (March 1977) -- before President Jimmy Carter instituted an amnesty that finally allowed him to play in his homeland
Our group of some 40 ex-patriots moved from the Frazier House to the Chatelet Hotel in Morin Heights Quebec. We opened the Belladonna Ballroom and offered country music and Harvey Wallbangers to our new Canadian friends

Smokescreen Sound was formed to book bands and musicians into the clubs in Montreal and to do production of cross Canadian tours. Bands from Knoxville like Rich Mountain Tower came to Montreal to perform and record.

In the Spring of 1970 following the Kent State Murders my brother Charlie joined with Russell Smith, Danny Kennedy, Sparky Rucker, and Toby Lees to form THE STRIKE BAND which played at events supporting the student strikes.
When Charlie left for medical school the STRIKE BAND became Smith and Kennedy with Jeff Stick Davis and Butch McDade. They continued to play at the political rallies and events in support of the strike. Davis and McDade eventually joined Jesse Winchester in Montreal.

THE GREAT AMERICAN STRIKE BAND - formed in the wake of the Kent State Murders and the general strike by students across America.
from left - Danny Kennedy, Jeff 'Stick' Davis, Russell Smith, and Butch McDade

The Original Strike Band members
Danny Kennedy, Russell Smith, Toby Lees, and Charlie Bozeman

By 1974 Jesse Winchester recorded Learn to Love It in Montreal including Russell Smith's Third Rate Romance and The End is Not in Sight. The album featured Jeff Stick Davis and Butch McDade on bass and drums. Russell Smith and I helped with background vocals. Jesse supported album sales with a cross Canada tour from Halifax to Vancouver and I managed the tour support and did the sound with Mike Caron.
Jesse then produced Knoxville's Rich Mountain Tower - Playin to the Radio album at Studio Six. The flow of people and music from Knoxville to Montreal was constant.

Stuart Wright who had been playing with Jesse became part of RMT and wrote songs for the Amazing Rhythm Aces.

Sandy Garrett, Stuart Wright, Doug Moisson, David Carr, Bobby Tuccillo, Shady Grove.

By 1976 Mountain Sound Inc formed in Knoxville with Rich Mountain Tower members and we picked up Charlie Daniels and The Marshall Tucker Bands for tour sound and lighting production clients. MTB and the CDB became prominent fundraisers for Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign and Mountain Sound was a part of that effort offering our services without compensation to get Carter elected.
When Carter won the election in November he announced that he would pardon all draft resistors who did not desert or become a citizen of another country. That decision would not have helped Jesse Winchester who had become a Canadian by 1973. After conferring with Albert Grossman I went to Washington and met with Jody Powell and Hamilton Jordan's people making the case that becoming a Canadian citizen was the honorable thing to do and that Jesse should be treated like any other Canadian citizen. That January I waited in the receiving line at the National Guard Armory where we were doing the sound and light production for Marshall Tucker and Charlie Daniels at the Inaugural Ball with one of Jesse's albums under my arm. Carter saw the album and told me not to worry. The next day he pardoned all draft resistors except those who had deserted.

Toy Caldwell, Jimmy Carter, George McCorkle








All of this ties together from the Kent State Murders to the the strikes, the strike band, Nixon at the Graham Crusade, the Vietnam war, the draft resistors, Jesse Winchester and the Rhythm Aces, The Amazing Rhythm Aces, Mountain Sound and the CDB and MTB to Carter's election and the pardons.
The MTB were all ex-marines from South Carolina and unlikely Democrats. Charlie Daniels is now an outspoken right wing fanatic. Mountain Sound went on to do all of the sound production at the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville for Jake Butcher who ran for Governor of Tennessee and then imploded with the United American Bank failure and his arrest and conviction for banking fraud. He moved from his mansion on Melton Hill with a dozen bathrooms to the Atlanta Federal Pen to make mailbags. If he had not tried a run for Governor as a Democrat he might have gotten through the difficulty in time.

In 1961 I had the opportunity to serve as a Senate Page for Albert Gore Sr. I was 14 years old and living on my on in the nation's capitol in a rooming house owned by Mrs. Alexandra Columbus just behind the Supreme Court. As a short term summer page I was assigned to the Republican side of the aisle where I watched Barry Goldwater mark the bills for John Tower and listened to Everett Dirksen, Norris Cotton, Margaret Chase Smith and Jacob Javits. LBJ would enter on my side of the podium and I would hold the door. He actually took the time to remember my name. Strom Thurmond was there along with Richard Russell, Carl Hayden, George Aiken, Hubert Humphrey, Ted Kennedy, and Estes Kefauver. I helped set up the desks in the morning and ran notes and packages from the floor to offices and fetched water from the cloakroom and got paid 182 dollars in $2 bills each week. It was an interesting experience at 14. I was a yellow dog Democrat. In 64 Gore gave me my desired appointment to the Air Force Academy and I was first alternate so he appointed me to West Point. I did not want West Point and I'm probably alive today because I made that decision.
Here I was 10 years later in Canada because of Nixon. When Watergate hit I was sure we had turned the corner and Democrats would prevail for decades to come. Instead we went from Carter to Reagan and the long dark days with a brief respite for Clinton followed by the disaster in Florida that gave us the agony of Bush.
Things only seem to be getting worse with the media, the military, oil, banks, and religion all arrayed against the best interests of working people and the working people don't seem to have the intelligence to recognize their own best interests.
Nixon at the Graham Crusade was a graphic display of the problem. Good 'christian' people were being told by their ideal good Christian man Billy Graham that Nixon was on the side of all that was good and true. Their children with the long hair and the THOU SHALT NOT KILL signs were misguided. They were being brainwashed by outside communist elements. The devil's music was leading them astray along with the evil in Hollywood. God was on the side of Nixon and the war in Vietnam was all that was between us and commie tanks in California.
I spent the first 22 years of life as a church going Eagle scout, Senate Page, Air Force Academy appointee, class president, and campus leader but now I was an ex-patriot outlaw hanging out with long haired rock n rollers in Canada.
The Republican's own Tennessee despite their obvious failure. They had a grip on it prior to the Nixon appearance with Graham but that day it was 90,000 christian Graham Nixon supporters and maybe 700 protesters in opposition. Then we had Al Gore Sr. and Howard Baker but by November it was Baker and Brock. Now it's Alexander and Corker and it couldn't get much worse. Al Gore Jr couldn't win in Tennessee and I consider that a positive. Anyone who is acceptable to Tennesseans isn't acceptable.

As NIXON stood on the 50 yard line surrounded by thousands of admirers with the entire Republican party hierarchy of the state it was clear that I was I stranger in my own land. I was born not a mile from that stadium in Fort Sanders Hospital and had spent the first two years of life in Aconda Court - now known as Alumni Hall at the intersection of Cumberland Ave. and Volunteer Blvd. by the Student Center on campus.
Aconda Court now Alumni Hall 
With Dad in the Aconda Courtyard 

Now I was the square peg in the round hole. The outcast prodigal non-believer. What we believe chooses us.

Thanks for reading What a long strange trip it has been.