5/13. Never Forget.
“Eleven people were killed as a result of the bombing. Six of them — including five children — were cut down by gunfire as they fled the burning building. (…)
As we retired that evening, the local television news carried accounts of the firebombing — which commanded less attention than another debacle that took place on the same day, the introduction of the “New Coke” in an event at Lafayette Park.
The Coca-Cola Company’s ill-advised decision to alter the formula of its toxic soft drink caused a paroxysm of national outrage on the part of a public that reacted to the Philadelphia fire-bombing with stolid indifference. Those who tampered with that product faced accountability. Jobs were lost, reputations were ruined, and corporate policies were changed. Nothing of the sort befell those responsible for a military assault on an urban neighborhood that left nearly a dozen people dead and hundreds of people homeless.
Coca-Cola’s decision to change its recipe was national news, as was the company’s chastened decision to rescind that change. The fire-bombing of West Philly received perfunctory notice in the State-aligned media, and was quickly forgotten by a materially sated population.
As Commissioner Sambor said in his overture to the holocaust on Osage Avenue, “This is America” — or, in any case, what we’ve allowed it to become.”
- William N. Grigg