He wondered why he had to go into all this. “I assumed any superintendent would issue instructions to shoot arsonists on sight and to maim the looters, but I found out this morning this wasn’t so and therefore gave him specific instructions.” [Mayor Daley] added, “If anyone doesn’t think this is a conspiracy, I can’t understand.”
Daley really had a gift for vocalizing the unconscious projection, didn’t he? There were many who saw ‘a conspiracy‘, but quite a few assumed it was The Authorities against the rest of America. I know that Conspiracy Theorizing as a way of life is usually credited to JFK and the grassy-knoll chalkboarders, but Dallas was just a point — it was the ‘twin’ assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy that turned those bullet points (sorry) into a line of thought.
I was ensconced in a blue-collar, very white NYC parish in 1968, so all I (or, I think, most of my parents’ generation) knew about Dr. King’s assassination was what we could read in the newspapers. While there certainly wasn’t much sympathy for the civil rights crusaders among those cops, firemen, civil servants, small-business workers & their wives (estimate: 50% Irish-Catholic, 35% Italian-Catholic, 5% other Catholic, 10% Jewish), I also recall an outspoken fury at the “dumb Southern rednecks” who condoned the assassination — it was seen as allowing their temper at a personal annoyance to potentially spark a much more dangerous outpouring of violence.
And, of course, Bobby Kennedy’s assassination locked that fear into a permanent state of mind. Everybody in my neighborhood “knew” it was going to happen, after the fact — “They had to take out one of OURS to balance the scales”. The only question was whether Sirhan Sirhan was the tool of “the Coloreds” or of the Elite than ran the country and the world as their private fiefdoms. And if the simplest explanation was that a shadowy ruling class was running the rest of us for a puppet show, the remaining issue was: Should you drop out of the system entirely, give up on all hope of political action (such as, for instance, voting) as a way of improving one’s chances? Or should you do whatever it might require to join the ruling class’s shock troops, and “get yourself a piece of the action”?