Former Baltimore Sun reporter and editor Arnold “Skip” Isaacs, right, did some digging this week and came across the text of the televised speech of President Lyndon B. Johnson after the riots in Detroit, Newark, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Cambridge, Md. and other cities in the long, hot summer of 1967.
Johnson’s opening words on July 27 were: “We have endured a week such as no nation should live through: a time of violence and tragedy.” Farther down comes this:
“Not even the sternest police action nor the most effective federal troops can ever create lasting peace in our cities. The only genuine long-range solution for what has happened, lies in an attack, mounted at every level, upon the conditions that breed despair and breed violence.
All of us, I think, know what those conditions are: ignorance,
discrimination, slums, poverty, disease, not enough jobs. We should
attack these conditions — not because we are frightened by conflict,
but because we are fired by conscience. We should attack them because
there is simply no other way to achieve a decent and orderly society in
From Skip: Wonder if ANYONE in today’s White House knew about or thought to look
back at that speech. If someone did, what do you reckon the odds are
that he or she showed it to the current president? Fifty-two years and ten months later, not a single syllable in those quotes sounds a single day out of date. That’s painful to think about, too.
Arnold Isaacs is the author of From Troubled Lands: Listening to Pakistani Americans and Afghan Americans in Post-9/11 America
His other commentary can be found at arnoldisaacs.net/