Protesters beaten. Clashes outside of a political event in Chicago. It was inevitable that the demonstration that caused Donald Trump to cancel a rally inspired a flood of pieces comparing 2016 with 1968.
Back then a fiercely contested primary splintered one party and led to a chaotic convention. The opposition ran a candidate with years of experience in Washington, who had already lost one presidential election. Trump has even adopted Nixon’s “Silent Majority” slogan. Others have compared Trump to George Wallace, whose anti-establishment third-party campaign preyed on xenophobia and cultural fears in much the same way as Trump’s.
Much has changed since then, when only 14 states held primary in the Democratic race. 48 years ago March 12, incumbent president Lyndon Johnson, facing backlash over the Vietnam War, barely eked out an eight point victory over Eugene McCarthy in the first primary, New Hampshire. It wouldn’t be until the end of the month that he withdrew.
John McCain had just been transferred to solitary confinement after having been shot down over Hanoi the previous October. Donald Trump had just taken his fourth student deferment in January while studying economics at Wharton. Michael Bernhardt had just been sent to Vietnam, after dropping out of the University of Miami to volunteer and “test his courage,” assigned to Charlie Company in Quang Ngai Province.
There’s one event, however, I want to key in on that happened exactly to this date—March 16th local time—48 years ago. It’s a date that should live in infamy. A date that contributed to turning the Vietnamese even more against the U.S. and would, when it was exposed a year later, cause scandal in America. A brigade of the United States military murdered over 300 civilians in My Lai.