The Four Stages of the Antiwar Movement

Antiwar demonstrators in Washington in October, 1967.

“The Vietnam antiwar movement, famous for its sound and fury, deserves credit for more. We were the first mass movement against a war in American history and one of its great moral crusades, yet most Americans recall only enormous protests and social chaos. In fact, the 10-year movement, in which I played a role, was a complex phenomenon that evolved strategically as circumstances changed. It can be broken down into four overlapping stages. The first stage, in 1964 and 1965, was led by two groups: left-wing activists organized into peace groups opposed to the Cold War and American intervention abroad, and college students who had come of age during the Southern civil rights movement and had seen how readily the government could divert its gaze from injustice. When the war expanded in 1965, the fledgling movement adopted two strategic goals: to give activists enough knowledge about Vietnam to be able to draw others into action, and to normalize opposition, since many Americans were hesitant to oppose their own country in a time of war. The peace groups educated the public and the press. The students invented a new way to train activists, the remarkably successful campus teach-ins, and between March and June, over 120 were held across the country. Public protests were organized to normalize opposition. In April, Students for a Democratic Society drew a surprising 20,000 to the first. In November, the peace organization SANE sponsored another, with a similar turnout. By the end of 1965, this first stage had largely succeeded. Activists gained a deep knowledge of Vietnam and the war, and protests, while still small, did normalize opposition despite accusations that they were un-American. Seeds of doubt planted in the press and the public would flower later. …”
NY Times

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Cambodia, CIA, Civil Rights Mov., Draft board, Feminist, Henry Kissinger, John Kennedy, Laos, Lyn. Johnson, MLKJr., Nixon, Pacifist, R. McNamara, Rob. Kennedy, SDS, Tet 1968, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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