History IA: What were American peoples responses to the Vietnam War in 1965 1971?

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Le Van Canh 10 SBu


What were American people’s responses to Vietnam War in 1965 -1971?

Word count: 2000


A. Plan of Investigation:

Through the anti-war movement in the USA this investigation will assess what were American people’s responses to Vietnam War in 1965 -1971? In order to evaluate how the Vietnam War influence American people, the investigation will go through each attitude of social class including students, women, black Americans, industrial workers to the US government’s participation in Vietnam War and the way mass media influences American people through popularity of television in US that time, the change in news on screen. These evidences mostly reflect the anti-war movement inside America and what American people think about their government. Two of sources used in essay:  The cold war by Steve Phillips and The Vietnam War, Public Opinion and American Culture by Zuzana Hodboďová, are evaluated on different aspect: “Civil war” between American people and their government and mass media’s role in this protest wave. Two those sources are chosen because they supplement for each other in each aspect of the evaluation. Specifically, the first source focused on the how American people object with their Government and second source focus on the impact of television – representative of mass media. This will help emphasize the importance of public opinion to government.

B. Summary of Evidence:

Attitude of social classes

a) Student

A student movement energized by the campaign for free speech at Berkeley, led by s new national left-liberal organization, the Students for Democratic Society (SDS). In 17th April 1965, a demonstration against the war was held in Washington DC by SDS with attendance of 25000 people. In 1966, the Student non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) declared to support “the men in this country who are unwilling to respond to a military draft which would compel them to contribute their lives to United States aggression in Vietnam in the name of the "freedom" we find so false in this country”.

b) Women

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom was the first organization that pioneered in the anti-war protest. After the start of B-52 bombing missions, Helga Alice Herz, a Holocaust survivor, founding member of Women's Strike for Peace (WSP) in Detroit, and member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), set herself afire on a Detroit street corner, following the example of Vietnamese Buddhist monks. Herz left a letter in which she exhorted Americans to ”decide if this world shall be a good place to live for all human beings or if it should blow itself up into oblivion.”

c) Black Americans

In 1970, only 19% black Americans supported the intervention of US in Vietnam.

On August 23, 1966, Muhammad Ali, the heavyweight boxer, highlighted his thought: “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong anyway; they never call me nigger”.

d) Industrial workers

Public opinion polls showed that working people, including union members, were already divided in their opinions on the Vietnam war by the mid-1960s, and, by mid-1969, workers in “manual” or “blue collar” occupations favored withdrawing troops more strongly than those in “professional or business” categories (that was from a July 1969 Gallop Poll). By 1966 there was a Trade Union Division of SANE, the anti-nuclear war movement (National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy), in which Walter Reuther of the United Auto Workers was active. 

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The way mass media influences American people 

a) The popularity of television in US during this period

In 1950, only 9% of homes owned a television. By 1966, this figure rose to 93%. A series of surveys conducted by the Roper Organization for the Television Information Office from 1964 until 1972 demonstrates the growing power of television: With multiple answers allowed, respondents were asked from which medium they "got most of their news". In 1964, 58% said television; 56%, newspapers; 26 %, radio; and 8 %, magazines. By 1972, 64 % said television while the number of respondents who ...

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