SDS is credited with organizing the first “mass” demonstration against the war, a march in Washington that drew 20,000 people on April 17, 1965 (there were smaller demonstrations beforehand). The marchers circled the White House and proceeded to the Washington monument where they heard folk songs by Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and Phil Ochs, and speeches by I. F. Stone, Robert Parris Moses, Senator Gruening, Paul Potter, and others. Entirely peaceful, they sang the civil rights anthem, “We Shall Overcome.” Potter presented a memorable commentary:
With the introduction of U.S. combat troops, efforts to win the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people were eclipsed by intensified efforts to win the counterinsurgency war. Given the widespread animosity toward the GVN, if not outright support for the NLF, the American War quickly turned into a war against the rural population. The targets included not only the communist-led NLF but also any person or village that offered support to NLF cadre or failed to expel them from their villages. The idea that Americans could distinguish between communists and non-communists, and between civilians and guerrillas, in a foreign world of thatched huts, straw mats, and wooden plows was predictably illusory, with debilitating consequences. The war against the rural population entailed harsh relocation (“pacification”) programs, a clandestine assassination program against village leaders suspected of helping the NLF (Operation Phoenix), the burning of villages deemed pro-NLF, the bombing and strafing of whole regions decreed as free-fire zones, and the spraying of poisons such as Agent Orange on millions of acres of forests and cultivated fields.
In general, the civil rights movement …
Pacifists generally abhorred the dehumanization of war, promoted conflict resolution and reconciliation, encouraged individual conscientious objection to war, and supported nonviolent social change for justice in the manner of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Jr. Many pacifist and pacifist-leaning groups had long experience in organizing campaigns (founding dates noted): FOR (1915), American Friends Service Committee (AFSC, 1917), WILPF (1919), WRL (1923), Congress on Racial Equality (CORE, 1942), and Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO, 1948). Abraham Johannes (A.J.) Muste, a practical pacifist with experience in labor and civil rights movements, played a unifying role in the antiwar movement until his death in February 1967. Some pacifist groups, such as WILPF, leaned toward the liberal wing of the movement while others, such as WRL, pulled to the left. WRL International issued a statement in August 1968 declaring its intent to work with “our brothers and sisters in the various liberation movements” to “bring an end to colonialism and imperialism … but without yielding up our belief that the foundation of the future must be laid in the present, that a society without violence must begin with revolutionists who will not use violence.”
Introduction to the civil rights movement - TES Resources
The general consensus among American historians is that the American War in Vietnam was a “mistake,” although interpretations differ as to what exactly this means. This essay takes the view that the ‘mistake” was a product of U.S. global ambitions and misperceptions that developed in the aftermath of World War II and were compounded over time. It probes deeply into the origins and nature of the war, making it a long article for a website (about 70,000 words), with about one-third devoted to the antiwar movement at home (Part IV). A half-century of excellent scholarship on the Vietnam War is drawn together and frequently cited in this essay.
Introduction to the civil rights movement
Liberal, leftist, and pacifist groups all supported mass demonstrations, but differences arose as to the degree of confrontation. Demonstration organizers decided early on to separate civil disobedience actions, such as sit-ins and the burning of draft cards, from main events. Disorder and violence nevertheless erupted in a number of demonstrations due to an untoward mix of rowdy individuals, leftist militants, aggressive counter-demonstrators, government agent provocateurs, and repressive policing. The Johnson and Nixon administrations, for their part, welcomed unruly behavior as it undermined the movement’s public image and allowed them to claim the moral high ground – standing up for law, order, and decency – even as they unleashed wholesale violence in Vietnam.