Now that we're in the middle of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, it might be useful to revisit the most notorious political convention of the last hundred years, that is, the 1968 DNC that took place in Chicago. In fact, the words "Chicago" and "convention," when used together as they are on the cover of this publication, still conjure up consistent images of mayhem-- a "police riot" that shocked the nation.
Law & Disorder: The Chicago Convention and its Aftermath is an extraordinary document-- a handsomely designed, privately published and printed "souvenir" magazine, filled with photos, elegant graphics, and excerpts from pieces by well known journalists and writers. It was edited and published by Donald Myrus and Burton Joseph, who don't otherwise appear to have ever published anything else.
From the Introduction:
In Chicago, the basic rights of free assembly, speech and press were challenged in the streets and parks by policemen and military troops with clubs and tear gas, while in the Amphitheatre the credibility of the convention process was badly shaken by the oppressive security measures. Law & Disorder tells the story of the Chicago Convention as it was seen by those who were there, by those who felt or saw the aspirations and fear and who are disturbed about what the Chicago experience means to the continuation of American democracy.
The proceeds from the sale of the magazine went to the ACLU, although it did exercise editorial control over it.
The articles include pieces called "Eyewitness," by such authors as playwright Arthur Miller, novelist William Styron, and Playboy owner Hugh Hefner. It includes drawings by artist and cartoonists such as Leroy Neiman and Pat Oliphant. The last section of the publication is entitled "The Politicsof Hope"-- a phrase that still sounds familiar in 2012-- and includes a piece by New York politician Paul O'Dwyer called "Chicago Will Be Ours."
I do not look on Chicago with despair. Looking at it with an eye on the past as well as an eye on the future, I see much to hope for in what all dissenters achieved there.