query: Africal American public Opinion (multiple responses)

Mon, 9 Nov 1998 16:26:07 -0500

From: epm2@lehigh.edu (TED MORGAN)

Both Michael Loret de Mola and Richard Manning highlight the significance of
Tet as the turning point in American public opinion. For a documentary
account of how this tends to distort (and over-emphasize) the significance of
Tet, see Herman and Chomsky's chapter 4 in their Manufacturing Consent. From
all the public opinion poll reading I've done & seen, public opposition to the
war was climbing steadily from 66 through 67 so that before TET it was around
40% or so... Immediately after Tet, it fell off (or, support for the
administration rose), then it resumed its steady upward trend until, yes, a
majority of Americans supported ending the war, period. The MAIN effect of
Tet seems to have been on affecting elite opinion, including the elite
decision-makers inside (or adjoining) the Johnson administration.

Tet as the "Decisive Turning Point" tends to fit nicely into the
Blame-the-Media campaign of the Right (those graphic images --VC at Embassy,
Genl. Lo An's murder of the VC suspect, etc. and Walter Cronkite''s commentary
from Vietnam helping to turn the tide, according to this version). More
likely, they helped to reinforce antiwar sentiment already on the rise.

Ted Morgan

PS Richard Manning adds this interesting note:

>And, of course, Tet was also an awakening for the average grunt to the
>fact they he was really fighting most of the people of Vietnam, not
>just so-called 'Communists'. Then the Black grunts were some of the
>first to realize that the war was also fundamentally a racist
>aggression. As they came to personally relate to that fact, they
>started to object to having essentially WASP leaders order them to
>kill Vietnamese peasants, including so many civilians. They showed
>more moral courage in doing so than any other ethnic group in Nam.

I haven't seen this argument --that TET played this role-- certainly that many
soldiers, black soldiers, etc. came to these kinds of conclusions (many,
perhaps in the post-Tet US assault that, among other things, included My Lai).
But can you pass along some sources on this specifically about Tet?

Department of Political Science
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From: Sdelano898@aol.com

It may be that African Americans were the first grunts to realize the war was
racist but other than your own personal experience, what kind of evidence do
you find that supports this observation? The evidence (newspaper stories
mostly) I've looked in my own research on opposition to the war among American
soldiers refeals that while African American grunts were prominent in a number
of "combat refusals" in Vietnam after 1968, more often the actions came as a
result of survival politics rather than outrage over the racist nature of the
Skip Delano