December 29, 2006

Lynette Alice "Squeaky" Fromme and Sara Jane Moore.

Two women who tried to kill Gerald Ford. Must we look at them again? No, but we want to anyway:
Although the two would-be killers' roots are different, their plots were both symptoms of the 1970s, the "goofiest decade of the century for California … in terms of its sheer ominous weirdness," said Kevin Starr, USC history professor and state librarian emeritus.

"Moore's style was middle-class, whereas Squeaky Fromme was a genuine cultist. Moore represented the individual derangement of the period and Squeaky the social derangement," said Starr. The assassination attempts — Fromme's in Sacramento and Moore's in San Francisco — also contributed to "an atmosphere of lawlessness" in Northern California, Starr said, compounded by such 1970s events as the Patty Hearst kidnapping, the slaying of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and the mass suicide of the Jonestown cultists.

Others say the acts symbolized an unraveling of American society in the aftermath of Watergate and the Vietnam War.

"A lot of people were rolling around unmoored, finding a reason to believe there was a political or conspiratorial explanation for their inner upheaval and concluding if they could only act on their impulse, they could save the world," said Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University and a former leader of the Students for a Democratic Society whose books include "The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage."
The 70s! They were horrible. Assassins are horrible in any decade, but here the assassins are not only horrible for being assassins, they symbolize the decade. The 70s!


Ron said...

I'm surprised they haven't blamed platform shoes -- surely these tools of patriarchy caused women to want to shoot people.

Coach Mark said...

Professor Althouse, thanks for your work. Great stuff you do.

I am working on getting some pretty important documents regarding Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism declassified via FOIA and running into some problems.

As a law specialist I was wondering if you might be able to offer me some advice to increase my odds of success?

Any tips?

Mark of

Dave said...

Two comments:

1) What the hell is a "state librarian"? Why don't you just have the cops go around and steal citizens' money at gun point?

2) I thought women were peaceful and we men were the source of all that is bad in the world. These women must be innocent.

Paddy O said...

Dave, if you've looked at Kevin Starr's histories of California you'd understand.

He's been an amazing gift to the state in collecting and recording the past couple of hundred years.

Ed said...

Wasn't Squeaky Fromme part of the Manson "family"?

Anonymous said...

And all these years, I thought Sarah Jane Moore was an old-school leftist radical. (She was.) Who knew her "style was middle-class?" I guess I must have overlooked what were surely dozens, nay hundreds, nay thousands, of other assassinations attempted by the card-carrying members of the middle class during the 1970's.

A very weird comment by Kevin Starr, someone normally far more astute. Perhaps Starr is feeling threatened by middle class values, or something, these days.

Anonymous said...

Yes, people were really acting crazy in California back then.

We're much better off today. People with these mental problems now become internet trolls. Better for politicians, worse for Althouse.

Anonymous said...


No, that would be if they tried to stomp him instead of shoot him.

Griffith said,

A lot of people were rolling around unmoored.

Was this a poor choice of words, or the world's stupidest pun?

As far as the assassins defining the decade, I would suggest that they defined the backlash to the return to normalcy that Ford represented. Otherwise you'd have to say that Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan and James Earl Ray defined the sixties, which gives them entirely too much credit. Also, why do these two 'define' the era but not Arthur J. Bremer or John Hinckley? Both of them were got closer to the mark than Fromme or Moore? Was it because Frommer and Moore were women?

bearbee said...

The 60's included assassinations of John Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. It was also a decade of riots occurring in 1964, 1965 and 1968. In addition there were mass/cult murderers - Charles Whitman 1966, Richard Speck 1966, Mason 1969.

This was the tenor of the times going into the '70's.

buddy larsen said...

Something happened, for sure. The worst thing in the 50s was that little smarm, Eddie Haskell.