Joseph Bernt

Joseph Bernt

Governor Kate Brown’s latest statewide freeze has been relaxed for Clatsop County, allowing the Cannon Beach Library to offer greater access again for library card holders and visitors.

Not only is door-side service open on Mondays and Wednesdays, noon to 4 p.m., but the library is again offering limited browsing on Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m., as local, state and federal guidelines allow. Updated information about both services is available at http://www.cannonbeachlibrary.org.

As a third reminder, by way of helpful nagging, the library’s home page also contains information about submitting poems, essays, and other short writings on the theme of the pandemic to the Northwest Author Speakers Series third annual Writers Read Celebration.

Deadline for submissions is January 11, 2021, and authors of writings selected anonymously by a panel of judges will read writings via Zoom at the Writers Read Celebration, Saturday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m.

Most library events and meetings will be offered virtually via Zoom, including meetings of the members of Cannon Beach Reads. Linda Gebhart will lead the reading group’s Zoom discussion of Susan Orlean’s “The Library Book,” Wednesday, December 16, at 7 p.m.

Regular members of Cannon Beach Reads will receive information to join the Zoom session next week. Others interested in joining should contact Joseph Bernt at berntj@ohio.edu.

The library has added twenty new titles to the library’s collection. They are now available on the “green-dot” shelf among other recent acquisitions.

Seven new fiction books include: “Tom Clancy Shadow of the Dragon” by Marc Cameron, “Ready Player Two” by Ernest Cline, “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig, “Love Your Life” by Sophie Kinsella, “The Arrest” by Jonathan Lethem, “Girls of Brackenhill” by Kate Moretti and “The Cold Millions” by Jess Walter.

Among eight new mysteries added are: “Hidden in Plain Sight” by Jeffrey Archer, “The Law of Innocence” by Michael Connelly, “Moonflower Murders” by Anthony Horowitz, “Murder in Old Bombay” by Nev March, “The Kingdom” by Jo Nesbo, “Deadly Cross” by James Patterson, “How to Raise an Elephant” by Alexander McCall Smith and “Fortune Favors the Dead” by Stephen Spotswood.

Five new nonfiction titles include: “His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life” by Jonathan Alter, “We Keep the Dead Close: Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence” by Becky Cooper, “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama, “Traitor: A History of American Betrayal from Benedict Arnold to Donald Trump” by David Rothkopf and “This Time Next Year We Will Be Laughing: A Memoir” by Jacqueline Winspear.

I recently suggested that the library consider ordering “The Hardhat Riot: Nixon, New York City, and the Dawn of the White Working-Class Revolution,” in which David Paul Kuhn describes a frightening May 8, 1970 protest when hundreds of construction workers, with fists and steel construction tools flying, attacked thousands of peaceful “hippies” in lower Manhattan.

At lunchtime, the hippies and students were protesting Richard Nixon’s April 30, 1970 expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia and the Ohio National Guard killing of four and wounding of nine protesters at Kent State University on May 4, 1970.

Immediately following news of the Cambodian invasion and the Kent State massacre, the country witnessed student strikes and campus closings at 135 high schools and 746 colleges and universities, including Portland State University.

On Monday, May 11, 1970, City Councilman Frank Ivancie sent 300 Portland police, including a tactical squad, wielding 42-inch batons, that clubbed passive Portland State students and hippies expecting to be arrested.

No arrests were made. Of those students clubbed in front of a first-aid tent, 27 were sent to area hospitals and the geodesic-domed tent was destroyed and carted away in a few minutes.

On Tuesday, May 12, 1970, more than 4,000 Portland residents, students supporting and opposing the closure and barricading of campus, and faculty marched from the Park Blocks to City Hall to protest the police attack—still remembered in Portland as a police riot.

The animosity in Portland to troublesome students in the Park Blocks matched attitudes toward antiwarriors challenging authority and traditional values expressed among cops, stockbrokers, office workers, teamsters and dock workers who cheered 500 construction workers who descended from the World Trade Center towers being built in lower Manhattan to “break some heads” on May 8, 1970.

The hardhats, as one workman told police, may have been “out for blood” on this Friday afternoon, but they were fixated on reinforcing love of country, particularly through display of the stars and stripes, a design Abbie Hoffman frequently used on his handkerchief.

The nation’s flag dominates “The Hardhat Riot” as if a battle flag.

One of the most contentious stops during the melee was City Hall where the flag flew half-mast, as ordered by Mayor John Lindsay to commemorate the deaths at Kent State University four days earlier.

“Raise the flag! Raise our flag!” Hardhats chanted repeatedly.

“Our Flag, all the way up, the American flag at full mast,” Thomas Owens, a steamfitter who was working on the World Trade Center towers, said. “Because Lindsay came out with some pretty terrible anti-American statements claiming the boys in Canada are really the true heroes of the war.”

“This is the Silent Majority, but they are not silent anymore,” Owens continued. “They can’t take these hippies anymore because they don’t speak our language. We built this city. Steamfitters. The elevator construction workers. All of us. We built every building that they want to burn down.”

Kuhn claims that the hardhats won the battle on May 11, 1970 but lost the long war with the New Left.

He argues Richard Nixon conceived a political realignment that moved the Republican Party from blue bloods to blue collars with the capture of the Northern white working class and Southern Democrats distraught over civil rights legislation.

At the same time, the New Left won the popular culture wars and then absorbed the Democratic Party while losing blue-collar whites, according to Kuhn.

I found this analysis, with its explanation of Donald Trump’s appeal to white working-class voters, a bit simplistic, especially since Kuhn ignores the modest success Democrats have found in Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and Texas in the past decade.

Kuhn also has an irritating habit of underestimating the cultural and political power of a dedicated minority.

For example, in evaluating the success of the Columbia University Strike in 1968, he argued, “Even at Columbia, a citadel of liberalism, two-thirds of students and three-fourths of faculty opposed the occupation, despite a narrow majority of both groups supporting their goals.”

Goals seldom restrain anyone, but occupied offices can bring educational enterprises to a full stop. Providing percentages of support rather than opposition allows for a different interpretation. If 33% of Columbia’s students and 25 percent of its faculty favored occupation, the protesters had a workable market share.

Even so, 80 pages of “The Hardhat Riot” in which Kuhn—using near stream-of-consciousness prose—describes 500 construction workers tearing, hitting, beating and bloodying their way through thousands of hippies, students, professors and office workers, only occasionally meeting resistance, compensates for his questionable interpretation of polling statistics.

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