Anti-War Movement Research Papers
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The antiwar movement that arose in response to the Vietnam War was a complex phenomena. In Who Spoke Up Zaroulis and Sullivan, two apologists for the movement, are at pains to tell us what the movement was not.
- It was not, they say, inspired or led by foreign powers;
- It was not a violent movement;
- It was not strictly a youth movement;
- It was not a movement of draft-dodging cowards;
- It was not a movement of “licentious countercultures”;
- It was not monolithic;
- It was not “anti-American”.
These are valid points. In making them the two writers are seeking to overcome some of the perceptions of the movement that were bandied about by its enemies in government and the press.
Anti-War Movement and Politics
But there is another set of opinions about the movement, and the people who were a part of it, which has been bandied about by its friends in the movement itself and in the press. And this set of opinions contains elements that are also things that, it can be argued, the movement was not. There was always a reason why someone became involved in the movement. Because it became a huge movement some of those reasons were less than admirable. There were those, like Tom Hayden, who cherished political ambitions. There were left-overs from the Civil Rights movement who had enjoyed the spot light and had to move on to a new movement now that the antiwar movement had stolen the spotlight. There was the phenomena of radical chic which made attending a protest the “in thing” to do. And there were those who found themselves in more of a mood to protest when the war threatened to sweep them up in it. Neil Sheehan, a far less biased and far more sophisticated writer than Zaroulis and Sullivan, points out that by 1967 the demands of the army for men caused the drafting of people after their deferments had expired, and that 1967 was the year that the campuses boiled over in turmoil. He points out, “The threat of being conscripted for a war…made marchers out of young men who might otherwise have been less concerned over the victimization of the Asian people ”.