Re: vets/antiwar

Fri, 12 Sep 1997 17:42:09 EDT

That was a powerful and moving post from marc adin --thanks, marc, if
you're still on line!

I think the line about marc's reception by "antiwar folks" tells us
all we need to know about how at least some portions of the movement
(of which I was part) went off a deep end.

>i returned to a world i never imagined. the anti-war movement folks
>rejected me out of hand.

I would like to think I would have been able to see past marc's
soldier/veteran status to be able to hear him and his experience; we
certainly all SHOULD have. But, alas, especially on the campuses,
that wasn't always the case.

I would, though, take issue with this view of marc's:

>so what? i do not believe the anti-war movement was anymore than a
>public relations "issue" for the two administrations. i see no
>evidence that it helped end the war. the death of 58,000 kids did

I think there's plenty of evidence that this is not the case, that the
antiwar movement was a central fixation and fear of both Johnson &
Nixon administrations, that the direction the votes were heading in
the 1968 primaries clinched it for LBJ (and antiwar kids played a
significant role in NH, Wisconsin, Indiana, etc.) --Tom Wells' book
THE WAR WITHIN provides evidence after evidence of these tendencies.
Not to say ALL the antiwar movement was significant; the "crazies"
were probably, in the end, a help to the Nixon administration in its
effort to marginalize the movement (even while public opinion was
heavily in favor of getting the hell out). The VVAW was clearly an
important part of the movement; a very significant voice in reaching
mainstream America and members of Congress alike. (Hence the cry marc
heard of "put the vets in front").

I mean, in the end, an administration wouldn't have done much
differently at all with 58,000 dead kids, or 100,000 dead kids, or
150,000 dead kids (especially, alas, if they were working class kids)
unless people kicked up a storm about them. And the antiwar movement
certainly was doing alot of that. Only a tiny fringe was denouncing
vets/soldiers, etc. A fringe that, frankly, was pretty unappealing
(to put it mildly) to the rest of the antiwar movement. Personally, I
don't consider those who denounced (spat on, avoided, etc.) vets to
even be part of the movement --just some whacko kids who didn't know
much other than it was cool to strike out against the war and its

OUTSIDE of this issue --which justifiably enraged and alienated vets
like marc, I don't see the point in his assertion that "there was very
little courage amongst my fellow anti-war protestors in the u.s."
Maybe "amongst the antiwar protestors I encountered" might be more
accurate. Others have testified to antiwar actions which took
courage; I don't think much is to be gained by "comparing" courage.
I, for one, agree that being a soldier in Vietnam took a great deal of
courage, and more soldiers paid a far bigger price than people in the
antiwar movement. I have great respect for their courage. But, so
what? If vets can hear that from antiwar people, is there another
point we need to address that I'm missing? Antiwar people did a great
deal to help bring the war to an end and to create a public opinion
constraint which has significantly limited US militarism (undoubtably
saving thousands of US lives --at least-- in Central America, for
example, and probably thousands more Nicaraguan or Salvadoran lives,
too) in the years since. I know there were times I could have done
more, could have paid a bigger price than I did, but I am really
gratified I had the sense to be an antiwar activist, that I faced down
a prison possibility, and gave two years of "alternate service"
because of my beliefs. I suspect we each can look back with some
regret and some pride (if that's the right word); I hope we can get
past either beating ourselves or someone else.

Ted Morgan

Department of Political Science
Maginnes Hall #9
Lehigh University
Bethlehem, PA 18015
phone: (610) 758-3345
fax: (610) 758-6554