This question keeps being asked. For those of us with memories, we have more reasons each passing year to care. I have had heroes my entire life, but nothing can color my life more than the incredible year 1968. YIKES!
What could we possibly learn from forty years ago? That is all old stuff- not important today, right?
How about the first time one man in live television calls another man a "crypto Nazi" and the best response is to call the better debater a "Queer" (also a first time event). This was live television and the excitement of what could happen ruled.
Video and much more after the jump...
Here is video of the exchange (Part 1, with Part 2 following):
Now why would William F. Buckley, the son of an oil baron, who married the daughter of an industrialist, was a Harvard grad and "Skull and Bones" man who had worked for a year for the CIA, have said such things? Oh, he was also a defender of McCarthyism, and considered the white race culturally superior though he did change his mind about (the last) finally. At the instruction of his own hate-filled father he had desecrated an Episcopal Church while in college due to anti-Semitism, was a rabid anti-communist "fag hater" who supported invading Cuba after the Bay of Pigs and the use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam in the name of deterrence.
Gore Vidal is descended from a political family that has been active in politics on our continent since the 1690's. By the time of this program series, he had authored "The City and the Pillar" which was the first American novel to feature homosexuality. He had also already written "Myra Breckenridge" the first novel to feature a transsexual who was a lesbian.
Gore Vidal was and is, most importantly, an absolute foe of American Imperialism. Although his family was long in America and his grandfather had been a United States senator, he worked as a writer to support himself since he had inherited no fortune. And he was successful at it- wildly successful with works including novels, stage plays and screen works.
The situation that caused the exchange above was extreme (as it is hard to imagine a police riot occurring outside of a political convention today), but the live television scenes directly before this exchange showed Chicago police officers using extreme force against unarmed protesters. That Buckley and Vidal disagreed with one another is not surprising, but they actively hated one another. Buckley told lies, half truths and resorted to sexual slurs instead of logical argument because he was defenseless in answering in any other way.
They soon discovered that it was necessary to put these two in separate rooms! Now, you would think that once the election season was over it would be enough, but it was not. Esquire Magazine made the error of inviting both men to explain what was going on in their minds on the fateful night of the "crypto-Nazi Queer" heard round the world.
Buckley wrote in an August 1969 edition of Esquire Magazine an article entitled "On Experiencing Gore Vidal." I would love to provide you a link to it, but after Gore Vidal's response a month later Buckley sued and won a retraction, not even allowing his own article or references to Gore Vidal's response to be reprinted in a 2003 "great writing" edition of Esquire in book form.
Gore Vidal will always be the first American author to deal with both homosexuality and transsexuality and believes that even heterosexuality is OK.
It is important who the next president of the United States is. If the choices are not apparent already- just from our own interest in freedom, right of self expression, peace, war or starvation- the great issues of the world cry out.
It is damn important who is next President of the United States.