Re: The Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam

Kathleen Rout (
Thu, 25 Apr 1996 08:12:52 -0400

Ted--There is a diference between the two movements. The unfortunate thing is
that the cynicism of the young black priest was typical, and led to a fairly
self-destructive, "Get lost (temporary) white allies" mentality which
alienated comitted whites who felt unwanted--they did end up in positions
where they could do something, but didn't bother a lot of times, because the
help was unappreciated and they were excluded from partnership in a
white/black anything. ideology works on paper, but I think when push comes to
shove people operate on a gut level, as ben franklin said when he wanted to
justify eating fish but was supposed to be a vegetarian at the time--we do
what we want to and feel drawn to, basically. Those whites DID get lost, not
from politics or social causes, but from black issues. I think that's why
affirmative action is going down with very few whites challenging that
development in any
heavy-duty way; there's a lot of that old familiar get-lost-ism and hostility,
as we know. I have always thought that the developments of 1965, much of
which are attributed to the influence of Stokely Carmichael, were tragic for
African Americans in terms of lost influence among well educated whites of
otherwise good will. There was so much black bitterness over past racism that
the activities and reality of young people did not register with them. It was
like, not "What have you done for me lately?" but rather, "What you have done
for me lately doesn't count." The sense of solidarity against the Bad Guys
who represented racism and war was destroyed and never regained.

> > Dick
Crepeau comments:
> > >I remember a young black priest in Detroit who said in the mid-Sixties
> >that he was not counting on the young white college students who seemed
> >so committed and radical because in a few months or years they would cut
> >their hair, shave, put on a suit and move into middle management in
> >their father's businesses. This is one reason he was more interested in
> >black power than coalition politics. He was of course correct, but what
> >he didn't yet know was that many of these white students would stop in the
> >anti-war movement on their way to middle class respectability.
> I wonder how much this is really true, Dick, or how much there is a difference

> between the two movements. According to most empirical sources I've seen
> (McAdam, Flacks...) activists from both crm & antiwar movements have remained
> largely true to their political commitments [I suspect here that liberals in
> each movement have remained liberal; radicals have remained largely radical;
> and I don't include in either group those action-faction drop-ins drawn by the

> media images of "revolutionaries" These may be the ones the priest is
> referring to.]. There may be a middle-class-respectability veneer (or reality
> with each group now, but that doesn't necessarily translate into the implied
> sell-out that the media so often trumpet.
> Ted Morgan