tions to "protesters" at the time. In 1968 the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan found that nearly 75 percent of the people reacted negatively to protesters. Among those who favored complete withdrawal from Vietnam, as many as 53 percent reacted negatively.66 We can assume with some degree of safety that the percentages would have been higher in reaction to Yippies.
On the other hand, the Yippies and other extreme groups among the antiwar movement contributed to making respectable the political critics of the war who worked within the system. In contrast to the popular images of the obscenity-shouting Yippies and the bombhurling Weatherpeople, Senators Fulbright, Kennedy, Church, and McGovern seemed models of responsible criticism. Just as Stokely Carmichael legitimized the moderate, nonviolent posture of Martin Luther King, Jr., so, too, the violent acts of the Weatherpeople and the absurd acts of the Yippies contributed to the acceptance of traditional criticism of the war and enhanced the ethos of those critics who held positions of power or remained within the traditional mainstream of protest.
The rhetorical mood of the Vietnam war was frenzied and fervent. Unlike World Wars I and II, the Vietnam war seemed not to have been fought for a higher, moral purpose. Critics did not believe that it would "make the world safe for democracy" or preserve the "arsenal of democracy," certainly not in South Vietnam. Critics saw it as a dirty war fought for obscure purposes, at best, or evil ends, at worst. In opposing the war they had, as Thomas Mann once observed, two choices: to take a position that is either ironic or radical.
Yippies chose an extreme form of irony, the diatribe. They revived, probably unknowingly, the cynical tradition of protesting a war and a society that supported that war. In doing so, they alienated from their cause as many, if not more, than they drew to it.
Yippies rejected the civic society and did everything within their power to identify themselves as outcasts--metaphysical, linguistic, comical outcasts. They took a stance that was purely critical. Few were immune from their satirical criticism. It was frolicking criticism that was their compass and guide. They offered few programmatic solutions, no policy solutions, no ideological solutions. They merely said people should be free.
And always there was laughter, the ridiculous and sometimes bitter laughter of the cynic. They contended they really joined the "revolution" because that's where the fun was, and they meant to have