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Explain why there were such different reactions in the USA to the country's involvement in the conflict in Vietnam in the 1960's?

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Introduction

3) Explain why there were such different reactions in the USA to the country's involvement in the conflict in Vietnam in the 1960's. Most American people supported the Vietnam War at the beginning of the 1960's because they believed that it would stop the spread of 'evil' communism. Propaganda such as films and books were used to a large extent to make people believe that communism was a major threat to America and the rest of the world. Many people became scared of a media constructed idea of communism. Furthermore, to some extent support for the war was a hangover of McCarthyism. During the 1950s, Senator McCarthy led a witch-hunt against anyone suspected of being involved in Communist activity, called the 'Red Scare'. Alongside the media and anti-communist hype many people, especially the older generation, were extremely patriotic. People who supported the war at the beginning were known as 'Hawks'. On the other hand, not all American people supported the war in the beginning. A small percentage opposed the war, known as 'doves'. These included people from left wing parties who supported communism and wanted the Vietcong (NLF) to win in Vietnam. Early opposition also included liberals, who believed that encouraging democratic governments, rather than authoritarian governments was the best way of stopping the spread of communism. Last but not least were the pacifists, who were against all wars, as they believed that violence was not the way to settle disputes. ...read more.

Middle

Many black people also felt that the Vietnam War was a lost cause, as many didn't have the freedoms at home that they were fighting for in Vietnam, for example the right to vote. One black civil rights leader said in 1960s, "If a black man is going to fight anywhere, he ought to be fighting in Mississippi". Many black people took this on board in the late 1960s, which led to violent riots breaking out in black ghettoes. This led to Anti-Vietnam war leaders claiming that US troops should withdraw from Vietnam in order to stop a revolution from breaking out in America. An example of this black militancy was the 'Black Panthers'. Many black people thought the war was in the streets and courts of the US, not thousands of miles away. Protest was not just from black people, but also other ethnic minorities who did not share the sane freedoms and opportunities as white, middle class Americans. Conscription to the Vietnam War, introduced in 1962, increased the level of protests in America. In 1963, college students were excused from being drafted in order to keep the support of the articulate and influential members of the middle class. However, this did not stop college students protesting as many young people felt that it was an attack on people's right to decide for themselves whether they wanted to fight for their country. ...read more.

Conclusion

With all the events of Vietnam coinciding with social upheaval in American, many Americans had different reactions to the war. At the beginning, many people supported the war as they felt they were fighting a war against Communism. Although some did oppose the war, there wasn't a great deal of opposition, as many people feared the 'Red Scare'. However, as the war went on, the more affluent 'Baby Boom' generation began to oppose their parent's morals and beliefs, including the war. Many hated the war and joined in rallies and marches against it, although opposition to the war was only one cause of the counter culture and by no means defined it. The events of 1965, where martyrs began to publicly burn themselves and draft cards etc, and the events of 1968, the My Lai massacre, and the Tet Offensive, greatly increased the opposition to the war. Also, the cost of the war increased taxes and led to many ethnic minorities, especially the black people, to go against the war. The events of 1968 really hit home, as the people back in the US knew they could not win the war, so many wanted America to withdraw its troops from Vietnam, as it appeared they were fighting for a lost cause. It seems as if Johnson's words about losing 'Mr Average' were prophetic, as popular support began to dwindle after Tet. ...read more.

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