Re: Re: Antiwar Movement & Civil Rights Movement

Rachel Barrett Martin (
Fri, 19 Apr 1996 23:16:24 -0400

I swore I wouldn't jump in on this one, but here I am. This time its the "race
card" rather than gender that's bothering me about the focus of the discussion.

I'm totally with John (and others) on the threat to the nation posed by the
antiwar critique and on _one_ of the bridgeS between the two movements being the
press for fulfillment of "American" ideals.

> I would argue that this is not quite right - that is, the CR movement did
> challenge more profoundly than the antiwar movement the structural aspects
> of Amer. society- but the latter challenged ideological aspects that were
> more difficult for Americans to revise- that is, the antiwar movement
> challenged the [often knee-jerk] patriotism and nationalist feelings
> embraced by so many Americans - who found it difficult if not impossible to
> separate a critical view of their country's policies from criticism of
> their country - and in the end found it all-too-easy to criticize those who
> critiqued the policies as un-American critics of the country and its ideals
> -
> what joined the two movements, it seems to me, is that conviction
> by many participants that both were essential if the US were to live up to
> its stated ideals -probably easier to accept on domestic matters, esp.
> moral ones, than in foreign policy -esp. after two decades of cold war and
> its accompanying "education" at all levels of Amer. society -

The key element missing more for me is that the _reason_ C.R. challenged the
structure (and I'll also argue here that the ideological strength of racialism
is at least one of the main reinforcers of nationalism) so intensely had as much
to do with the assault on cultural privileges of race/whiteness as it did with
institutionalized practices. Do we need to deal here with the question about
what was particularly white about stuff like the SNCC/SDS saga (or more broadly
with white cultural politics) ?? How whiteness functioned or was performed in
the movements?

Rachel Barrett Martin
Department of History/Program in Composition
University of Minnesota

.. Once in a while you get shown the light
in the strangest of places if you look at it right ...