Correction to my previous posts – not all citizen activism is good…

From “Forgotten Soldiers of the Integration Fight“, op-ed in the New York Times, 28 September 2002 — Hat tip to the Instapundit.  Excerpt:

On Tuesday, Oct. 1, Oxford, Miss., will be coming to terms with one of the major events of its past. Forty years ago on that day {1962}, in the early morning, a force of nearly 30,000 American combat troops raced toward Oxford in a colossal armada of helicopters, transport planes, Jeeps and Army trucks.

Their mission was to save Oxford, the University of Mississippi and a small force of federal marshals from being destroyed by over 2,000 white civilians who were rioting after James Meredith, a black Air Force veteran, arrived to integrate the school. The troops were National Guardsmen from little towns all over Mississippi, regular Army men from across the United States and paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions.

They had to capture the city quickly; the F.B.I. had intelligence that thousands of Klansmen and segregationists from California to Georgia may have set off for Oxford, many of them armed.

The first troops to reach Oxford found over 100 wounded federal marshals at the center of campus, 27 of them hit by civilian gunfire. Packs of hundreds of rioters swarmed the city, some holding war dances around burning vehicles.

Snipers opened fire on the Army convoys and bricks struck the heads of American soldiers. Black G.I.’s in one convoy were ambushed by white civilians who tried to decapitate them in their open Jeeps with metal pipes.

Maj. William Callicott of the Mississippi National Guard had served in World War II; he said:

“{I} never was as terrified as I was going onto the campus that night. It was the fact that I knew there had to be some local people from my hometown probably over there in that mob. “That’s what really worried me. If we killed anybody it could be my next-door neighbor.”

The Army troops restored order to the school and the city, block by block. A girl watched a team of infantrymen under attack on the Oxford town square and, according to a reporter at the scene, wondered aloud, “When are they going to shoot back?” Except for a few warning shots, they never did.

William Doyle is author of An American Insurrection: The Battle of Oxford, Mississippi, 1962.

See the Wikipedia entry about James Meredith for more about this incident and its aftereffects.

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the following:

Reference pages about other topics appear on the right side menu bar, including About the FM website page.

Posts looking at America’s past:

  1. Our futures seen in snippets of the past, 16 June 2008
  2. A philosphical basis for the Batman saga, 23 July 2008
  3. Can Americans pull together? If not, why not?, 29 August 2008
  4. Let’s look at America in the mirror, the first step to reform, 14 August 2008  
  5. Fixing America: shall we choose elections, revolt, or passivity?, 16 August 2008
  6. Fixing American: taking responsibility is the first step, 17 August 2008
  7. Fixing America: the choices are elections, revolt, or passivity, 18 August 2008
  8. Sources of inspiration for America’s renewal, 23 April 2009 – The Law of Equivalent Exchange
  9. A history lesson recommended for the top of your reading pile, 17 September 2009 – Serial war as the American way of life.


Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 word max), civil and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

5 thoughts on “Correction to my previous posts – not all citizen activism is good…”

  1. In These Times once posted a story about a WW2 brigade of black soldiers in the south that were massacred by locals in the south. It was all hushed up at the time, the bodies were quietly were buried and the records of the black GI’s were destroyed. Over 300 men were killed. The only reason the story surfaced was that 50 to 60 years later, the perps felt so guilty that they could not keep quiet anymore. They deeply regretted having killed all those black men.

    When I see footage from the civil rights era, I ask myself where are these people now and what would they say to their grandchildren who saw what they did. What goes around comes around.
    Fabius Maximus replies: I would like to see a cite for this WWI incident. It sounds like an urban legend.

  2. “Sad that the USA no longer has the kind of army that existed in 1962.”

    Yep. The All Volunteer Force has shifted the focus of military service away from being an obligation of citizenship to being a way to earn a living.

  3. “When are they going to shoot back?”

    Under current doctrine and if the troops were in anyplace except America, wouldn’t they just take cover and call for air assets?
    Fabius Maxmius replies: Absolutely not. The military in most developed nations are similar or even less agressive than ours in domestic matters.

  4. FM: “Absolutely not. The military in most developed nations are similar or even less agressive than ours in domestic matters.

    Sorry – I meant US troops in foreign climes.
    Fabius Maximus replies: That’s a different matter! I thought you imiplied that US troops might shoot real people, instead of insurgents (or those who would become insurgents if they had survived to adulthood).

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