Antiwar Movements occurred throughout the America. Disputes over the decisions made by President Lyndon Johnson and President Richard Nixon concluded in nationwide protests. These protests were extremely influential in the ultimate decision of withdrawal.
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The Hawks and the Doves
By 1968, American involvement in the Vietnam War peaked. There were two extreme ends regarding the opinions of Americans. A fine line formed between the ones who had fully supported American involvement and ones that strongly opposed it.
The ones that did approve of *President Johnson*'s decisions composed of nearly a quarter of the nation's population. These people were called the "Hawks." The Hawks believed that the US could win if bombings over North Vietnam was increased dramatically. However, *Johnson* was firmly opposed to this advice. He and his advisors did not wish to provoke China and the Soviet Union, who they did not have a friendly relationship with at the time.
The "Doves", who made up the majority of the country, firmly opposed *Johnson*'s decision of escalating the war and wished to end the involvement in Vietnam. The Doves were much more vocal then the Hawks as they publicized their opinions through antiwar protests.
Antiwar demonstrations occurred in many college campuses. The students who took part on them hoped to slow down the escalation of the war at Vietnam. Teach-ins, which were large public protests, were staged. Beginning at the University of Michigan on March 24, 1965, the teach-in protests spread throughout the country.
Teach-in demonstrations were widely held, so an organization was founded to unite these protesters. This group was called the Inter-University Committee for a Public Hearing on Vietnam. The organization arranged a nationwide teach-in demonstration that would be broadcasted on the television and radio. This publicized the protesters view on the war and diminished the support that others had for the war.
By the late 1960s, the antiwar activists in campuses resorted to rallies and riots. These demonstrations would soon lead to tragedy, as the confrontation of the police and students resulted in violence. Some riots that occurred were at colleges were the ones at Jackson State College, Columbia University, and the infamous Kent State.
These antiwar demonstrations would soon prove to be an important factor in influencing the government's decision to withdraw from Vietnam. Although tragedies occurred, the protests publicized the opinions of the youth of the United States.
From the early 1960s to the early 1970s, American youths created the counterculture. The counterculture was a alternative society that was based on peace, love, and freedom. The people who took part in this culture opposed violence and war. The symbols of the counterculture era were sex, drugs, and protests.
The counterculture was made up of people who were known as hippies. These young people condemned materialism, convention, and authority. They enjoyed rock music, long hair, tie-dyed clothing, and freely experimented with drugs and sex. The peak of the counterculture was represented by the Woodstock Festival, which was a music festival where people gathered to celebrate peace and love.
As the counterculture became widespread, activists formed organizations that protested the political policies of the US. One such group was the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Student protesters criticized social injustice, lack civil rights, and the Vietnam War. These groups often resorted to violence to rally against American involvement in Vietnam.
The counterculture was an alternative to the traditional society. The supporters of the counterculture were able to challenge the US government and voiced their own opinions.
Effect of the Antiwar Movements
The Antiwar Movements strongly contributed to the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam. These demonstrations publicized the protesters opinions and eventually, diminished the amount of support the nation had to continue the war.
Throughout the entire war, the US Government was careful in keeping a wide support for US intervention, as was stated in the Pentagon Papers. Lies pertaining to the progress of the war were fabricated, in order to reassure to the American public that victory was inevitable. But as the total casualties began to increase, the *Doves* became more vocal over their opinions.
The media and college students assisted the Doves in spreading their message of peace, as more and more demonstrations appeared throughout the news and campuses. Following the Pentagon Papers, the amount of the Hawks was minute. Public support declined and Nixon finally began the withdrawal of troops, heeding to the calls of the protesters.
Antiwar movements were an important factor in the government's ultimate decision of Vietnamization. The ability of these protesters to influence the decision made by the President shows that broadcasting one's opinion is a beneficial weapon.
Many antiwar demonstrations resulted in violence. Activists believed that they must resort to violence in order to receive more attention, which would consequently, help influence the policymakers decisions concerning the Vietnam War.
List of antiwar demonstrations:
On October 28, 1965, another teach-in was held at the Eisner and Lubin auditorium in Loeb Student Center. The topics range from the Vietnam War to the Watts Riots.
In March 1967, nearly 300 students attended a teach-in held to discuss the issues of the war in Vietnam, including America's involvement, NYU's participation in the war effort, and university reform.
On March 6, 1968, around 500 NYU students showed up to protest against Dow Chemical, as they returned to administer interviews.
Following this incident, the SDS continued to disrupt the speech given by James Reston, executive editor of the New York Times. The activists used a sofa to break open the locks leading to the auditorium. Reston left the Center after confronting them.
On May 4, 1970, the students attending Kent State University were continuing their protests against United States involvement in the Vietnam War. While the students waved their peace flag, hundreds National Guard troops were dispatched onto the scene for containment.
Soon, gunshots flared through the air, leading to the death of four students and wounding nine. The entire nation was stunned as to the measures the government had proceeded to do; firing rounds at unarmed college students. Following the dreadful incident, Nixon stated, "When dissent turns to violence, it invites tragedy."
News of the Kent State massacre spread across the country. The tragedy initiated a wave of antiwar protests in many of the nation's campuses. As a result, hundreds of colleges and universities were disrupted or shut down entirely.
Ohio Gov. James Rhodes stated at a press conference on the eve of the shootings, "They're worse than the brownshirts and the communist element. We can stop them with gunfire if necessary." This showed that the country's politicians viewed the students to be worse than who they were at war against, the same students who were fighting for the right thing; to leave Vietnam.
Photos Courtesy of Archive Photos
Photos Courtesy of Archive Photos