[sixties-l] RE: Vietnam retrospective

From: Lauter, Paul (lauter@exchange.cc.trincoll.edu)
Date: 10/25/00

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    While I'm sympathetic to much of what Ted Morgan, Marty Jezer, and others
    wrote (probably a couple of nights ago), I want to emphasize a couple of
    	First--not trivial: Vietnam is not a tiny Asian country.  It has a
    population of about 80 million, about 13th largest on the planet.  And its
    location is critical from many perspectives.  The "domino theory" was bs,
    but one cannot gainsay the strategic importance of Vietnam to US policy
    	Second, Bruce Franklin is right about certain key developments of
    draft resistance and anti-war activism originating in the black community.
    The first overt draft resistance leaflet I ever saw was in McComb,
    Mississippi, during the summer of 1965.  Its theme was "no Vietnamese ever
    called me nigger."  There are very direct links (people, material, ideas)
    between that effort to promote draft resistance (which some folks in SNCC,
    not to say other organizations, felt uncomfortable with) and the development
    of later draft resistance activity, like the counter-conference to the
    University of Chicago's conference on national service in spring, 1966 (or
    late 1965).
    	I suspect he's also closer to the truth regarding how widespread GI
    opposition to the war became.  When I was doing the US Servicemen's Fund,
    only a relatively small cadre were engaged in putting out GI papers or
    running coffee houses, and many of those were civilians.  But they spoke to
    a huge resonating mass movement by 1971.
    	Third, I don't buy the theory that anti-Left activity derived mainly
    from a reaction to movement excesses in and after 1968.  Yes, that was an
    element.  But the Wallace vote (George, that is) that emerged in Michigan
    was rooted in much earlier and different developments having to do with the
    removal of jobs in the auto industry exactly as African-American workers
    were coming to the area seeking jobs and housing (see the work, that I'm
    sure I've mentioned before, of Tom Sugrue). These economic and turf issues,
    rather than reactions to movement "culture" really set the terms of
    political shifts that Nixon and his bunch exploited.
    	Finally, I think it's misleading to characterize the actions at the
    1968 Demo convention as those, simply, of the anti-war movement.  It's like
    saying Seattle was an expression of the Greens.  1968 was a kind of
    coalition of folks coming from a variety of situations--after all, the
    student movement was not coextensive with the anti-war movement, or vice
    versa.  I don't mean this to be nit-picking but rather to emphasize the
    importance of precision in understanding the dynamics of the movement
    then--or now.  
    	BTW, I wonder if there's an analogy in this election to 1968.  Does
    anyone now want to argue that Nixon's ascension over Humphrey had no effect
    on progressive causes?  Most movement folks blew off that argument in 1968.
    To be sure, Bore isn't even the creep Humphrey was, but then again, Gush is
    probably even more malign than Nixon.  Paul   

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