The Vietnam War on Campus: Other Voices, More Distant Drums

The Vietnam War on Campus: Other Voices, More Distant Drums

The Vietnam War on Campus: Other Voices, More Distant Drums

The Vietnam War on Campus: Other Voices, More Distant Drums


Previous analyses of the student antiwar movement during the Vietnam War have focussed almost exclusively on a few radical student leaders and upon events that occurred at a few elite East Coast universities. This volume breaks new ground in the treatment it affords critiques of the war offered by conservative students, in its assessment of antiwar sentiment among Midwestern and Southern college students, and in its invesitgation of antiwar protests in American high schools. It also provides fresh insight through a discussion of the ways in which American films depicted the student movements and an examination of the role of women and religion in the campus wars of the Sixties and Seventies.

The campus dimensions of the antiwar movement were more broad-based and more diverse in membership, roots, and strategy than is often assumed. Each essay in this collection strives not only to present a fair-minded picture of the impact of the Vietnam War on campus, but also to offer balanced reflections on its significance for today's body politic. Contributing authors conclude leading scholars on the war's impact on American society and two artists closely associated with that conflict, Vietnam veteran, writer, and poet W. D. Ehrhart and Country Joe McDonald, author of the antiwar era anthem, I Feel Like I'm Fixing to Die Rag.


Marc Jason Gilbert

At the height of the campus unrest caused by the war in Vietnam, President Richard M. Nixon growled in complaint that America's student population appeared determined to spend its time not in learning, but in “blowin' up buildings [and] burning books.” Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew, sought to discredit student anti-war protesters by suggesting that “they take their tactics from Gandhi and their money from Daddy.” The nightly news profiled the country's most prestigious academic institutions as perpetually wreathed in tear gas, while America's generals claimed that the actions of mere youths who knew nothing of the conflict they so adamantly opposed were limiting the nation's foreign policymaking parameters. To many social critics, it appeared that the highest pinnacles of the Ivory Tower were being toppled by a new movement of young Leftists who hoped that its fall would hasten global anarchy or, at the very least, a world revolution against capitalism and democracy.

More than twenty years have passed since the events that spurred these wartime judgments and images occurred. In that time, the campus leaders of the 1960s literally moved into the public offices from which their strongest adversaries and worst critics issued their rebukes. A student anti-war protester named Bill Clinton later occupied Nixon's oval office. Agnew's bully pulpit was later occupied by anti-war student and Vietnam War veteran Albert Gore. This risen generation of campus warriors, while admitting some inevitable errors in both tactics and strategy, has otherwise conceded little to their wartime opponents. They dismiss much of the criticism directed at them as the sour grapes of selfdeluded defenders of a dysfunctional social order too eager to hide its interests in Africa, Latin America, and Asia beneath the mantle of moral anticommunism.

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