While millions of prosperous Americans were cooling themselves at waterside resorts last month, violence exploded again in the heart of U. S. cities. Ghetto after ghetto swarmed with rioters, policemen, and armed soldiers. By month’s end, the long hot summer had turned more than a dozen cities into a purgatory of hatred, looting, arson, demagoguery, and death.

Those who still think that the term “the great society” is appropriate for our land should tremble before the warning signals of a declining culture. The state of New Jersey, which a few weeks earlier had hosted the Johnson-Kosygin summit meeting in quest of world understanding, found itself struggling in Newark for the basic elements of civil order. Fires had hardly died out in Newark when a week of unprecedented fury left blocks of downtown Detroit in rubble. At least twenty-seven people died in Newark, forty-one in Detroit. Thousands were injured. Property damage approached $300 million. In the same few days similar violence shook Plainfield and Englewood, Minneapolis, Grand Rapids, Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Cambridge, New York, Erie, Phoenix, Cincinnati, and a host of other cities. And still it did not seem that the end was in sight.

As Americans paused to reflect on the weeks of violence, two things appeared certain. First, the angry wave of violence was rising rather than subsiding, in spite of the massive efforts of government and private agencies to contain it. It also seemed that the rioting was only one wave in a rising tide of violence that increasingly threatens American society and the long-range survival of basic Western values.

In the past three years, serious disorders stemming from racial unrest have immobilized parts of more than fifty cities. But ...

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