by Skip Stone
What really distinguishes this generation. . . is its determination
to act, its joy in action,
The popular stereotype of hippies describes them as lazy, unmotivated, even apathetic. At times we can be this way, especially when stoned. But if you look back at history, you'll find just how many causes we were actively involved with, and how many great things we accomplished. This chapter reviews the circumstances that led to the hippy movement, the major causes that hippies supported, the outcomes of our movement's activities, and those causes that still remain to be tackled.
Hippies started the ecology movement. They combated racism. They
liberated sexual stereotypes, encouraged change, individual pride, and
self-confidence. They questioned robot materialism. In four years they
managed to stop the Vietnam War. They got marijuana decriminalized in fourteen
states during the Carter Administration.
Hippies were part of the first generation to face the real threat of nuclear annihilation as children. We were supposed to be reassured by the fallout shelters popping up everywhere and the drills we had in school where we hid under our desks. Nobody wanted to face the reality of nuclear war. We had to discover that reality ourselves, and bring it to the attention of our elders. Our parents' denial of the consequences turned to anger in our generation as we learned the truth.
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority,
This was the first of many startling discoveries we were to make as we matured into young adults. The legacy of WWII and the boom years that followed was a prevailing attitude that America could do no wrong. Victorious in war, we would lead the world in peace. Prosperity and optimism was taken for granted. Hell, we even figured we could walk on the moon!
Southern change gonna come at last!
But all was not right in the land of plenty. At the start of the 1960s, civil rights was the issue of the day. Black people were demanding equality under the law. At that time blacks could vote in national elections, but in local elections, especially in the south, blacks were denied the franchise. This was only one of many rights denied black people. In theory, black people had equal rights, but in reality America was still practicing Apartheid. Segregation was the law in the south.
Think of all the hate there is in Red China,
In 1960, black people were taking to the streets in organized protests. Sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in southern cities were inciting both blacks and whites to action. College students, many of them white, were getting involved in these actions and learned a few things about non-violent protest. This was risky in the south. Some protesters were beaten or murdered as a result of their activities.
If the button is pushed, there's no running away.
The anti-nuclear movement started gaining ground in the early '60s as well. With more countries testing nuclear weapons, and production increasing dramatically, the concern was worldwide. President Kennedy urged Americans to build fallout shelters while Ban the Bomb demonstrations in America and Europe attracted tens of thousands of students and intellectuals such as Bertrand Russell.
"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as
Civil rights and anti-nuclear protests often included marches, sit-ins, speeches and songs by famous people, signs with slogans, and chants. These protests were always marked by peaceful intent. If things got ugly it was usually due to police tactics or violent counter demonstrations (by such organizations as the KKK). The SDS, Students for a Democratic Society, got its feet wet in these early demonstrations. They would later organize anti-war campus protests around the country.
Why do we never get an answer, when we're knocking at the door?
Young people began to get the idea that their government didn't really have the interests of the people as their main priority. Just as President Eisenhower had warned, the military/industrial complex was having undue influence on U.S. policy making. There were big profits to be made in the arms race. And the legacy of the McCarthy witch-hunts of the 50s was back, haunting us as our paranoid government saw the threat of Communism everywhere.
Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.
President Kennedy stood up to Premier Krushchev over Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba, nearly causing WW III. But it was LBJ (President Lyndon Baines Johnson) who was to lead America into a full-scale war in Vietnam. Some believe Kennedy was about to withdraw from involvement in Vietnam when he was assassinated on November 22, 1963.
Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for
People young and old saw the American dream buried along with Kennedy. We awoke quickly to face the nightmare of reality. It was only two days after President Kennedy died that LBJ escalated U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?
Eighteen months later, we were getting even more involved in Vietnam. First we sent more advisors, then we started bombing North Vietnam and ramped up the draft. In March 1965, American foot soldiers first engaged the Vietcong on their home turf. Later that same month the SDS organized the first Teach-In about the Vietnam War at the University of Michigan. The following month, the SDS led the first anti-war march in Washington D.C.. Over 25,000 people showed up, including singers Phil Ochs, Joan Baez and Judy Collins
Hell no, we won't go!
Student deferments and Conscientious Objector status became more difficult to obtain. Tens, then hundreds of thousands of young people had to give up their dream of college to go fight a terrible war in a distant land. Some of them burned their draft cards, others fled to Canada to avoid the draft. As more and more of them returned in body bags or were termed MIA or "missing in action", it became clear we weren't winning in Vietnam.
You’re old enough to kill, but not for votin’.
On October 16, 1965 a nationwide anti-war protest brought out 100,000 people in 80 cities around the country. By 1967, the opposition to the war was going full steam. On April 10th, a nationwide protest, Vietnam Week, started with draft card burnings (now illegal) and anti-draft demonstrations around the country. On April 15, a huge anti-war protest in New York City included 400,000 (equal to the number of soldiers in Vietnam at the time) who marched from Central Park to the United Nations. Speakers included Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael and Dr. Benjamin Spock.
Until the philosophy that holds one race superior, and another, inferior,
is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war.
While the hippies celebrated their freedom with the Summer of Love in San Francisco, and Flower Power Day in New York, it was a Summer of Rioting in the ghettos of America. Blacks took to the streets in Chicago, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Baltimore, Newark and Detroit, where 43 died in some of the worst rioting in U.S. history. It was just the beginning of the "Long Hot Summer."
Burn, baby, burn!
Why did blacks riot? Some saw a race war as the only way to freedom. Years of peaceful protests had not really changed much for black people. Despite the passage of various Civil Rights acts, there was still widespread discrimination, racism and economic inequality. The radicalized elements, especially the Black Panthers were arming themselves and inciting others to confront the establishment, violently if necessary.
Our program is cultural revolution through a total assault on culture,
which makes use of every tool, every energy and every media we can get
our collective hands on... our culture, our art, our music, our books,
our posters, our clothing, the way our hair grows long, the way we smoke
dope and fuck and eat and sleep-it's all one message-
The Black Panthers were the inspiration for other groups including the White Panthers and the Weathermen (a radical splinter group from the SDS) to use violence against the establishment. This took the form of bombings of symbols of the military/industrial/economic system like banks.
All we are saying is give peace a chance.
The black and hippy protests going on during this period overlapped (time-wise), but most hippies were still intent on peaceful protest. On October 21 and 22, 1967, 35,000 anti-war protesters stormed the Pentagon. They were greeted with tear gas. Eventually all the demonstrators sat down in front of the Pentagon and the assembled troops (MPs). The standoff continued while the protesters held teach-ins, sang songs, chanted and listened to speeches. Many demonstrators went up to the MPs and talked to them about peace and love. A famous photo shows a young man placing a flower in the rifle muzzle of a guardsman. As day became night, some of the troops were won over. The protest was so peaceful at this point, no one felt threatened. People started fires to keep warm, and a community was forming.
Around midnight, paratroopers relieved the MPs and they started to clear out the demonstrators with force. 647 protesters were arrested, often after being severely beaten by the paratroopers and U.S. Marshals. In response, later that same week, draft deferments were eliminated for those who violated draft laws or interfered with recruitment, two common tactics of the protesters.
The draft is white people sending black people to fight yellow people
In December a "Stop the Draft" movement was organized. It included 40 antiwar groups, and nationwide protests were coordinated. On Dec 5, 1967, 1000 antiwar protesters tried to close the New York City induction center, where draftees reported. 585 were arrested including Allen Ginsberg and Dr. Benjamin Spock.
There's battle lines being drawn.
On Dec 31, 1967, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Paul Krassner, Dick Gregory, & friends pronounced themselves "Yippies." On Jan 16, 1968, they founded the activist Youth International Party which was to organize protest actions including the famous demonstrations during the Democratic Convention in Chicago.
The battle outside ragin' will soon shake your windows and rattle
For three days, 10,000 demonstrators were met by 12,000 Chicago police; 6,000 National Guard; 7,500 U.S. army troops; and 1,000 FBI, CIA & other services agents. These government agents then proceeded to riot, inflicting heavy damage upon the protesters. Outnumbered and outgunned, the only protection the protesters had was their voices. They shouted "the whole world is watching" while news cameras filmed some of the less violent events. Chicago Mayor Daly (and the U.S. government no doubt) wanted to teach the hippies and yippies a lesson.
Off the Pigs!
Meanwhile the level of violence on the streets everywhere was rising dramatically. After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968, spontaneous riots erupted in 125 cities across the country. Oakland Police ambushed the Black Panthers. Eldridge Cleaver was arrested with a bullet-shattered leg and Bobby Hutton was shot and killed.
Make Love, Not War
Days later, hippies held a Love-in at Malibu Canyon, Calif. and the Spring Mobilization against the Vietnam war began soon after. Students at Colombia and Boston Universities occupied administration buildings on college campuses to protest discriminatory academic and financial policies, and to add ethnic studies to the curriculum.
If we cannot now end our differences,
Meanwhile, the Women's Liberation movement was gearing up. Women were deeply involved in the Anti-war movement from the start. They helped organize, contributed money, marched, sang songs and got arrested like everyone else. But women inspired by the civil rights movement had their own agenda. More women than ever were leaving the home and entering the work force.
Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor;
Tired of being treated like second class citizens, exploited economically, sexually, and without equal rights, they decided to break from the other protest movements and get politically active. In 1966, NOW, the National Organization of Women was founded. By 1968 women groups had multiplied, demanding the right to abortion, childcare, and an end to economic, political, educational and sexual discrimination. Women had their work cut out for them trying to raise the consciousness of Americans taught to see them only as sex objects or mothers.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of
American society had never been attacked on so many fronts, so vociferously, as it did in the closing years of the 60s. The Women's movement was just one more log on the fire of discontent eating away at the white male dominated social structure.
When a nation is filled with strife, then do patriots flourish.
During this time, a typical newscast would start with the latest violent clashes in the streets of some ghetto, followed by scenes of marches and speeches from some anti-war rally. Then a sobering set of statistics of dead soldiers in Vietnam, after which some conservative politician would be interviewed saying how we're winning the war, and if we would just re-elect him, it would be over in a jiffy.
One of the greatest casualties of the war in Vietnam is the Great
As the troop level in Vietnam approached its all-time high of 543,000, the Vietnamese launched the surprise Tet Offensive, which marked the turn of the war in their favor. The My Lai massacre of a whole Vietnamese village including women and children by American soldiers was reported and the media had a field day. The war was leaving a bad taste in everyone's mouth by now. LBJ deciding his Vietnam policy was a liability and a failure, decided not to run again for president (perhaps the fact that Robert Kennedy announced his candidacy had something to do with it), and ordered a partial bombing halt. Within two months, peace talks began in Paris.
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible
As 1969 began, students all over the country were taking over campus buildings and issuing demands. Violence was everywhere. The U.S. launched the biggest ever bombing campaign against North Vietnam. In New York City, police raided a gay bar in Greenwich Village, which lead to the Stonewall Uprising where 2000 protesters battled 400 police, thus starting the Gay Liberation Movement. Cult leader Charles Manson and his followers murdered actress Sharon Tate and the LaBiancas.
You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
As the Chicago Eight trial got underway, in which the Yippie leaders were charged with conspiracy and inciting a riot, the Weathermen began their "Days of Rage" with bomb attacks against establishment targets. On May 15, 1969, hippies camping out peacefully in People's Park in Berkeley were attacked and forcibly removed by police and the National Guard. On July 20, 1969, Man set foot on the moon. It seemed that we had to go that far just to find some peace. Then again...
The important thing that you have proven to the world is that
In the middle of all this mayhem, much to their eternal credit, over half a million hippies managed to have three days of peace, love, fun and music at the Woodstock Music Festival in August 1969. In a way this was one of the most political (or apolitical) statements ever made by hippies. At Woodstock, a huge, virtual city appeared without adequate planning for such a large group. The only agenda anyone brought with them was to have a good time, groove on the music and each other. Without leaders, without police, without government, without violence, they managed to feed, and care for themselves outdoors despite the heat, rain and mud. The Woodstock Nation had left its mark on the world.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
On Oct 15, 1969, another half million people took to the streets around the U.S. in peaceful protests during the first Vietnam Moratorium. One month later, 500,000 marched in Washington DC as part of the largest antiwar rally in U.S. history. Speakers included Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, Coretta King, Dick Gregory, and Leonard Bernstein. Singing songs of peace were Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul, & Mary, John Denver, Mitch Miller and the touring cast of Hair.
What is the use of physicians like myself trying to help parents
to bring up children healthy and happy, to have them killed in such numbers
for a cause that is ignoble?
By the end of the year over 100,000 soldiers had died or been injured in Vietnam, and a draft lottery had begun. A free concert given by the Jefferson Airplane and the Rolling Stones turned to tragedy at Altamont as the Hell's Angels killed a man waving a gun. It was a symbolic end to a violent year. Some say it marked the end of innocence for the Love Generation.
If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with.
1970 began in similar fashion with the student riots in Isla Vista, California and the Weathermen bombing the Bank of America there and office buildings in five states. Three Weathermen were killed when a bomb they were working on exploded in a house in Greenwich Village, NY. On March 1, 1971 a bomb exploded in a Capitol restroom. The Weather Underground claimed responsibility saying it was in response to the U.S. involvement in Laos.
Turn the earth to sand and still commit no crime!
The Vietnam War, wasn't the only topic that riled hippies. In 1969, a disastrous oil spill near Santa Barbara, California focused our attention (again) on the environment. Hippies were frustrated with the lack of government initiative towards cleaning up the environment and leniency with corporate polluters. So we organized, protested, and contributed to environmental groups and by 1970, the Ecology Movement was in full swing. The National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA was signed into law and on April 22, the first Earth Day was declared. This landmark event, involving 20 million people, raised awareness about how humans were treating the planet and ways to mitigate the impending dangers to the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency was soon established to monitor and clean up toxic wastes. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty also went into effect.
Soldiers are cutting us down!
College protest had become so commonplace by 1970, that it was a horrible shock when the news reported thirteen unarmed student protesters being shot, and four killed by the National Guard at Kent State University, Ohio. Ten days later, police killed two students at Jackson State University during violent student demonstrations. The very same week, antiwar protesters in NYC were attacked by construction workers. It was clear that the ongoing protests were dividing the country and the violence was totally out of hand.
How many deaths will it take 'til he knows, that too many people
Despite the peace talks (just how long DID they spend discussing the shape of the table?), the Vietnam War dragged on, taking more lives and further alienating us from our government. As more 'Nam veterans returned, they brought back horror stories about the war. Soon they were the focus of protests. Vets appeared at the forefront of the Peace movement, and they were a powerful ally, since they had the respect of the warmongers.
Many people still think the protesters hated the soldiers who went to war. Far from it! All of us knew people who served in Vietnam and respected them. It wasn't their choice, they were drafted. At the start of the war many went with a spirit of "my country, right or wrong" and jeered the protesters. Some protesters did focus their attention on the soldiers, since they felt they should have resisted the draft, but that was more of a media stunt. Once they got there, even the most devout, brainwashed soldier faced his own "apocalypse." When those lucky enough to survive returned, their attitudes were often similar to those who protested the war.
I know vets who are so fucked up from their experience that they must take heavy prescription drugs for the rest of their lives otherwise they freak out. One vet, a distant relative of mine is denied contact with his family to this day. Why? Because they're afraid of him! I spent a few days with him just before they shipped him to 'Nam. I found him fun and full of life. When I saw him next he was close to being a vegetable, yet he was physically unharmed in the war!
The Vets' wounds mirror the wounds the country suffered. They still haven't healed. Hawks and doves still argue over foreign policy. America has now taken on the role of World Policeman. Fortunately it appears we have learned some lessons and now our government seems reluctant to put American soldiers on the front line, preferring to use our superior technology as the weapon of choice. Kill them from the air and Americans won't have to see the mangled, burned bodies of women and children below.
But the selective service system still exists to register young men who turn 18 so they can be drafted should the need arise. America can find it all too easy to justify intervention when "ethnic cleansing" (Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor) is involved, or when its so called "strategic interests" are at risk (the Gulf War). The attitude is shoot first, ask questions later. One should never feel we are at peace when we still have the nuclear capacity to wipe out (almost) all life on the planet.
There is a Creator.
We are the caretaker of the Creation.
The trees speak of the Creator.
On the environmental front, hippies established and supported such organizations as Greenpeace, Earth First!, Friends of the Earth, etc. They lobbied Congress and took direct action against those whose only motivation is economic gain regardless of the impact on the planet's ecology. Some of their efforts are as legendary as they are dangerous. One day we'll all look back on these brave activists who risked their lives and freedom and hail them as heroes. You, too, can be a hero by supporting such organizations that put the common good above selfish short-term interests. Earth is the mother of us all, and we must treat her with respect.
I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in
a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by
the content of their character.
Although much has been achieved in the area of Civil Rights, racism, discrimination and economic inequality still plague minorities in America. Until we end the cycle of bigotry and fear that one generation passes on to another, this problem will continue to haunt us. Hippies practice Love and Tolerance for all beings, and this is an important message to share with everyone. Remember, actions speak louder than words and hugs are warmer than handshakes.
Think Globally, Act Locally
Nuclear, biological and chemical threats still hang over our heads. Perhaps more than we realize. The technology has filtered down to where maniacal despots without inhibitions can get their hands on weapons of mass destruction. We face a challenging moral dilemma dealing with such people. Our lack of resolve on this issue will come back to haunt us one day.
The Marijuana Issue
Just say NO to INTOLERANCE!
It does seem that hippies as well as many other groups have a reluctance to get involved in an issue unless something personal is at stake. One issue that is getting hot now certainly affects hippies personally. The issue is marijuana. Everyone has an opinion whether it be to legalize, decriminalize, medicalize or industrialize. Until we all get together on this issue, THEY will have the upper hand. It has been politically unfeasible to discuss this issue with the anti-drug hysteria that has swept the nation for three decades. Now things are changing. This is one issue that can unite us again.
Marijuana has been used for millennia to heal, inspire, clothe, and warm humanity. It can even feed us as it's one of the best protein sources known. Yet we have vilified this magical herb to where even innocent children suffer when their parents are given 20 year jail terms, often on a first offense. At one point we decriminalized it in many states. Now it's lumped in with heroin as the most dangerous kind of drug. Thousands of people are in need of its medicinal properties and are denied such comfort by law.
One who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust,
and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse
the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing
the highest respect for law.
Today, we have a War on Drugs which is really a War on Americans. Our government takes Woman and Children prisoners every day this war continues. We justify such actions as a deterrent, yet handing out 20-30 year sentences to (some) first time offenders, is far worse than how we punish many murderers. PLEASE END THE WAR! PLEASE FREE THE PRISONERS!
With our thoughts we make the world
YOU can make a difference! As this issue heats up, get involved with your statewide and national organizations. NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) is a good place to start. Remember, all drugs are NOT created equal. Your mind and your body are yours. No one has a right to tell you how to use them or how to heal them. FREE YOUR MIND.
Big Brother is Here!
"The purpose of this program is to expose, disrupt, and otherwise
neutralize the activities of the various new left organizations, their
leadership, and their adherents…. We must frustrate every effort of these
groups and individuals to consolidate their forces or to recruit new or
youthful adherents. In every instance, consideration should be given to
disrupting organized activity of these groups and no opportunity should
be missed to capitalize on organizational or personal conflicts of their
leadership…. The organizations and activists who spout revolution and unlawfully
challenge society to obtain their demands must not only be contained, but
must be neutralized.
It's clear that there has been a coordinated effort on the part of the federal government, local agencies, even the media to disrupt, discredit and undermine the legitimate right to protest in the United States. The extent of this conspiracy has yet to be determined because so many documents relating to this period are still classified. To justify their actions, many sought to find communist instigators just as McCarthy did in the 50s.
Big Brother is Watching You!
Agents infiltrated every student group, every left leaning political group, and every minority organization, to carry out J. EDGAR's dictum. They used every counterespionage tactic available at the time, including tailing people, informants, tapping phones, keeping confidential records on individual members' activities including drug use, sexual liaisons, and other information that had nothing to do with their political activities. Is it any wonder these groups lost their leadership, their focus, their energy? With agents everywhere, who could you trust?
The truth is that this country's leaders cannot tolerate dissent from within if it threatens the established order. As a result the great tradition of protest has come to a grinding halt in this country. There is now an underlying feeling that if you voice your "politically incorrect" opinions in a coordinated fashion you'll get into trouble.
We have miles and miles of pretty files of your forefather's fruit.
Thanks to the Internet, our government has new methods to pry into our personal lives. They now can and do intercept any communication transmitted over the web that they choose. They scan websites for pornography, drugs and other things they disapprove. They have agents monitoring chatrooms and postings. They look for keywords. Once they've found a suspect they read his/her incoming and outgoing e-mail. Then they do the same to those people that person has contact with, and so on. And they cry that this isn't enough! They want more power over what is said and done on the Internet. Our government thinks they should be controlling everything, everywhere.
It riles them to believe that you perceive the web they weave
Big Brother is here friends. He is watching, listening, taking notes, making lists of names. The danger of this is that we will all eventually have a file. Whether it gets used against us depends upon what we do. It is another means of controlling us. If a person were to decide to get vocal about his opposition to government policies, they can just pull his file, and haul him in on some trumped up charge (perhaps statements made out of context, or an agent-provocateur can lead the person into some illegal activity). I'm sure writing this book will put me on an enemy list in some government agency (if I don't have a huge file already!). What I wonder is, will anybody care when I'm hauled away for speaking my mind.