What really distinguishes this generation. . . is its determination
to act, its joy in action, the assurance of being able to change things by one’s own efforts.
Hannah Arendt (1972)
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.
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.
Timothy Leary (Chaos and Cyberculture)
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.
it’s time to pause and reflect.
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!
Now your crosses are burning fast,
Neil Young (Southern Man)
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.
then take a look around to Selma, Alabama.
Barry McGuire (The Eve of Destruction)
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.
There’ll be no one to save with the world in a grave.
P.F. Sloan/Barry McGuire (The Eve of Destruction)
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.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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.
With a thousand million questions, about hate and death and war.
‘Cause when we stop and look around us, there is nothing that we
in a world of persecution, that is burning in its greed.
The Moody Blues (Question)
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.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
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.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
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
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
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 don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’?
P.F. Sloan/Barry McGuire (The Eve of Destruction – Topped the charts
Sept 25, 1965)
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.
is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war.
Haille Sellassie/Bob Marley (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
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.
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 message is freedom.
John Sinclair (1969) The White Panther Party Statement
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.
John Lennon (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.
to protect the country they stole from the red people.
The musical, Hair
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.
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind.
Buffalo Springfield (For What it’s Worth)
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
Bob Dylan (The Times they are a-changin’)
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.
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.
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.
at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
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.
it must be demanded by the oppressed.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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.
but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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
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.
… shot down on the battlefield of Vietnam.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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.
will make violent revolution inevitable.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
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.
Bob Dylan (Subterranean Homesick Blues)
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…
half a million kids can get together and have fun and music
and nothing but fun and music, and I bless you for it!
– Max Yasgur, owner of the farm where Woodstock took place.
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.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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.
to bring up children healthy and happy, to have them killed in such numbers
for a cause that is ignoble?
Dr. Benjamin Spock
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.
Ronald Reagan, then Governor of California, on how to deal with student
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
The Moody Blues (One More Time to Live)
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.
Crosby, Stills & Nash (Ohio)
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
Bob Dylan (Blowin’ in the Wind)
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
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.
Look in the mirror and laugh.
Look in the heart and smile.
Look at the Creation and cry.
We are the caretaker of the Creation.
We have forgotten who we are.
We have forgotten why we are here.
The trees speak of the Creator.
The birds sing of the Creator.
The Creation speaks to us.
Are we listening or are we too busy?
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.
a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by
the content of their character.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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
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
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
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.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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!
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
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.
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover in Disruption of the New Left
counterintelligence memo dated May 14, 1968
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.
George Orwell (1984)
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.
And now to suit our great computer, you’re magnetic ink.
The Moody Blues
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.
…so keep on thinking free!
The Moody Blues
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.
Hi. This letter is not concerning drugs, flower power, or whatnot; I had a very important question about Vietnam. Back in the sixties, when many of our American citizens where fighting for freedom, people at home were getting loaded shouting, Make love not war. Well, it was easier said than done. Did anyone listen to our antiwar suggestions? No. Our men were getting hopeless because they were out risking there lives, and they didn’t have any support. Even our own president Bill Clinton ran to Canada, so he wouldn’t have to get drafted. My question is, why did this happen? What did the guys that fought for Vietnam think of this? And what good did the hippies do for humanity-other than get others explore their minds, and discover themselves? I don’t know much about Vietnam, so if you can’t answer my questions, it’s okay; I would like to hear what you know. Thank you for your time!!
Let’s set the record straight (if this is possible). You state that the boys in Vietnam were fighting for freedom. I ask you back – Whose freedom? We were supposedly a free country then (as we are supposed to be now). Vietnam was no immediate threat to any American. So they certainly weren’t fighting for our freedom. It was a situation similar to Kosovo, but without the ethnic cleansing, which is our only justification for being involved in that fiasco.
So if the young men sent to Vietnam to die, were sent to free the Vietnamese people, what exactly were they being freed from? Yes, the North was communist and wanted to take over the South, which was capitalist. Communism might be a less efficient system than Capitalism, but is the difference worth dying for? Were we justified in killing people because we have a better system??? Does might make us right?
The truth is that it was US business interests that got us into the war and kept us there. After the first few years of the war, the war itself became big business! American corporations and investors were getting rich as the government plowed every extra dollar into the war effort, at the expense of the social programs of Johnson’s Great Society.
It’s amazing to me that you think that no one listened to the antiwar effort. Not only did people listen, they got involved, even veterans returning from Vietnam! We mobilized millions of people in the effort. Although it took time, it did work! The big turnaround came when Lyndon Johnson decided not to run for office again. His whole Vietnam policy was a failure and he knew it. He was faced with running against the antiwar candidates (just about all the other democrats) and instead decided to retire. If the democrats had won that election, the war would have been over much sooner. Instead Tricky Dick got elected, and with the whole military/industrial complex supporting him, continued the war for many more years. That’s politics!
From the 1968 elections onward, the antiwar movement continued, but the opposition (read: government) got violent. Witness Chicago during the Democratic Convention. Kent State where 4 students were murdered by the National Guard. The war came home, and we were lying bloodied and dying in the streets. And you think we did nothing! It really makes me wonder what they are teaching you in the schools these days? Have they rewritten history?
We have all learned some lessons about Vietnam. Why do you think we haven’t sent in ground troops in Kosovo. That’s because the government is afraid of public opinion! Before Vietnam most people supported whatever the government’s foreign policy was at the moment. Young men were eager to sign up to fight overseas. With the hippy and antiwar movements we learned to question authority. Before no one would think to second guess our political and military leaders. After all they had successfully guided us through WW II, where we were victorious and the Korean war where it was a draw, but Americans at home were spared seeing the horrors on TV.
A better question for you to ask is Why did we go to Vietnam and what did we accomplish there? We need the answer because maybe then we can figure out what the hell we’re doing in Kosovo!
What blows my mind is the concept of sovereignity. This means that every government respects the rights of other governments to do whatever they want to the people inside their borders with impunity. Even though the leader of a country can be a complete lunatic, we must respect that person and his government’s right to exist. The ludicrious irony of this situation will come to a head when the US and Nato are forced to negotiate with the mass murderer Milosovich over the future of Kosovo.
To me the real lesson is not to trust any government. They exist to serve the rich and powerful in every country, including this one. A government will defend itself against it’s own people whether justified or not. When a government kills it’s own people without valid reason (like Kent State or Kosovo – take your pick) it loses any credibility it has as a representative of the people. So the real problem is the nature of government itself. We need to either re-invent government as a tool of the people, using the empowering new technology at our disposal, or continue being cannon fodder for those special interests that our government owes favors to.
The revolution that was never finished must become the evolution that leads us to a new beginning.
-The Old Hippy
P.S. this was written in 1999.
Posted by: skip