Re: [sixties-l] Critique of Bruce Franklin

From: Marty Jezer (
Date: 10/23/00

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    Michael Wright's criticism of Bruce Franklin's article rings true to me.
    Just before the Demcoratic National Convention, the Gallup poll found that 53%
    of Americans thought that sending troops to Vietnam had been a mistake. In
    opposition to the war never exceeded 25%. That 53%, double from 1966,
    represents the movement's victory. We built a majoritarian movement, but it was
    not easy.
    If opposition to the war was so great in 71, as Franklin asserts, what's to
    explain Nixon's easy re-election in 72? 
    Franklin's assertion that it was a working-class movement sounds like ideology
    speaking. I'd like to see in his notes how he arrives at that conclusion. 
    And by '68, (As Paul Joseph in his book Cracks in the Empire points out)
    corporate America was split on the war. Important sectors and influential
    businessmen were moving towards opposition. They weren't marching in
    demonstrations, but they were making their opinions heard. Big business wants
    stability more than anything else. The pragmatists among them saw the unrest
    within America as threatening to their ability to plan and prosper.  
    Contrary to Franklin, the draft had a huge impact on the movement. As an
    activist in The Resistance and a writer on draft resistance in general I recall
    how the lottery took the wind out of our sails.  
    As for African-Americans, here Wright may be a little too harsh in his
    critique. Southern draft boards used Selective Service to go after black
    Southern civil rights activists.  There were black leaders in the anti-war
    movement from the beginning. SNCC's Bob Moses (Parris) was one of the
    organizers of the first Washington DC protest in the summer of 65. Stokely
    Carmichael, John Lewis and many other SNCC activists protested the war early.
    John Wilson of SNCC helped organize black draft resistance. Anti-war
    demonstrations in NYC always had large African-American contingents -- and
    local activists were often speakers. It's not constructive to compare black
    activism with white activism. They were expressed different ways. Moreover,
    blacks had a stake in the Johnson Administration (the war on poverty) that
    whites didn't have.  When Martin King courageously spoke out against the war,
    it was tantamount to a break with the Johnson Administration which, whatever
    else one says about it, was committed (within the confines of its liberal
    ideology and what it perceived as political possibilities) to racial justice. 
    Bayard Rustin represents that element of the black leadership who supported the
    war in order to maintain the war on poverty focus. (He was wrong, but he had
    support within the African-American Community).
    Be that as it may, Franklin's piece greatly exaggerates the support and the
    nature of the support the movement had, especially before 1968. After 1968 the
    war became unpopular. But so did the movement. I wish it were otherwise, but it
    is wrong to equate opposition to the war with the anti-war movement. 
    Marty Jezer
    Marty Jezer
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