Re: Antiwar Movement & Civil Rights Movement (multiple responses) (fwd)
Tue, 16 Apr 1996 12:32:30 -0400


Sender: (Maurice Scharton)
Subject: Re: Re: Civil Rights Movement

>David's argument about the civil rights movement as the distinctive
>source of "the 60s" presents a narrative trope that I feel bedevils 60s
>studies--it's a trope that divided the left during the period and
>continues to divide them today.

Terminological quibble/question
Is it a trope (a figure of speech such as a metaphor) or a topos (an
argumentative commonplace)? If the former then the civil rights movement
provides a frame or lens; if the latter, then civil rights becomes a site
of origin, an assumption, or perhaps even a warrant (in S. Toulmin's
terms). Perhaps it's in the eye fo the interpreter.

Maurice Scharton
Illinois State University



Sender: "G. L. Seligmann (AcadCore, x3399)" <>
Subject: Re: Civil Rights Movement

Having spent four years (1963-1967) both in Louisiana and
involved in the struggle I have always felt that the presence and
labors of Southerners both the active and the passive supporters of
the Civil Rights Movement were crucial to the success of the
movement. I also agree that these folk, and I include myself here,
have been mostly ignored. As to why I am not sure. Perhaps it is
because we talk funny. That is we don't add a "r" to words that end
with "a" and are guilty of other verbal abberations.

Have an absolutely orgasmic day now y'hear.

Gus Seligmann


Subject: Re: Antiwar Movement & Civil Rights Movement

D. Eide says:

>Many people, such as myself, who were anti-war at age 20 now see
>that the world is more complex than the real divide of 20-25
>years ago. Vietnam did exactly what the 'containment policy'
>intended; ie. bog the Soviets down in an arms race until the
>internal contradictions of communism collapsed on itself. Whether
>that is something to be proud of is another question....
> The civil rights movement was a moral imperative that most
>people of good will saw as necessary.

I found this curiously abstract and detached from the bloody impact of US
policy in Vietnam. It echoes the Kissingeresque reasoning that anything we do
to maintain this superior system is morally justifiable, because this system
is morally superior --all the while ignoring the obscene destruction wreaked
by the United States against the civilian populations of Indochina (to say
nothing of everything else one might cite in questioning the moral
"superiority" of this culture).

Vietman, for me was a moral imperative, just as the civil rights movement (etc.)
was a moral imperative. Strangely enough, the majority of Americans seem to
agree. As recently as 1991, 70% of the public felt the Vietnam war was
"fundamentally wrong and immoral" not "a mistake." So I sense that D.Eide
exaggerates the pervasiveness of this revisionist, post-Cold War view of

Yes, civil rights was terribly fundamental to those years, but I found curious
the assertion that "it decayed into an ideological zero-sum game that gains
little respect. The civil rights movement lost its credibility by seeking to
change a society it did not fundementally understand." It became radical to
the degree that it (the Panthers, Martin Luther King, etc.) denounced
capitalism as a fundamental source of inequality in America. But is that "not
understanding" America? Or is it being a little too radical for the movement
to gain easy access to mainstream American (the way it could with the
hard-to-dispute liberal validity of civil rights)? Especially given the
powerful propaganda campaign and selective media coverage that discredited
anything associated with a radical critique.

Ted Morgan