Shaken to the Roots



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Vietnam and 1960s protest – Ch. 29, “Shaken to the Roots,” pgs. 760-769
Overall main idea: In response to Vietnam and social problems in the U.S., many Americans participated in protest and counterculture during the late 1960s.
The End of Consensus

Main idea: The late 1960s and early 1970s in the U.S. were beset with turmoil, including the war in Vietnam, which distracted from Johnson’s Great Society, set back global stability, and divided the American people.

After the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, Johnson stepped up support for South Vietnam, and by 1965 was sending more and more U.S. military to fight Communism in Vietnam
Deeper into Vietnam

Main idea: Johnson escalated U.S. military intervention in Vietnam, eventually sending thousands of troops and tons of bombs in a struggle to win the civil war against Communist Vietnamese.

Johnson escalated military involvement in Vietnam in 1965; he sent in massive amounts of air forces to bomb the Vietnamese Communists (North Vietnamese and Viet Cong [South Vietnamese Communists]); he also sent ground troops to protect air bases; he was hoping to force the North Vietnamese to negotiate to end the conflict; didn’t work

In 1965 Johnson doubled the draft and increased US troops in Vietnam, eventually reaching over 500,000 by 1969; the US now carried the brunt of the fight against Communism in Vietnam

Search and destroy missions – strategy of US in Vietnam where small ground troops would locate enemies, then call in massive artillery and air forces to destroy them

Most Viet Cong fought with guerrilla warfare and mixed in with the civilian population, making it difficult to tell friend from foe; American strikes often killed enemies and innocent civilians both

Ho Chi Minh Trail – supply lines for Communists running from north to south through neighboring Laos
Voices of Dissent

Main idea: American protest over the Vietnam War and the draft grew as U.S. involvement in the conflict increased.

During the 1950s, liberal dissent was limited by fears of McCarthyism

Realist dissenters – those who saw the war as a distraction from European problems and a waste of resources; more radical dissenters – saw the war as immoral, imperialistic, un-American, part of the military-industrial complex, etc.;

Selective service system – the administration that was responsible for drafting Americans for the military; a lot of protest anger was directed against the draft; deferments (release from serving as a result of the draft) usually favored more middle-class and upper-class Americans; deferments were granted for college enrollment, medical excuses, etc.; often these lower classes included more African-Americans and other minorities; at one point, black deaths in the war were twice their corresponding percentage of the American population

By 1966-1967, dissenters began more active protest, including Dr. King; protests included blocking supply trains, vandalizing ROTC buildings, burning draft cards, fleeing to Canada, marches, rallies and civil disobedience.

On the other hand, many Americans supported the war; both anti-war and pro-war songs and movies were popular
New Left and Community Activism

Main idea: The New Left of liberal politics used grassroots community organizing to accomplish their goals.

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) – one of the most famous activist groups of the New Left, based at colleges; engaged in protests and rallies

New Left – united, broader liberalism of the 1960s that was often young, disillusioned by or against consumerism, racism, imperialism, and war; differed from previous liberalism before World War II that was more scattered and associated mostly with Communist radicalism and labor unions

Free Speech Movement (FSM) – another student activist group, this one dedicated to free speech and protest regarding politics at universities and public places

Community organizing and action becomes more widespread among student protest groups and local communities; minority communities especially benefit as activists staffed food cooperatives, free health clinics and rehab centers


The Feminist Critique

Main idea: Feminism was revived and strengthened in the 1960s and 1970s.

Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was published in the early 1960s

Gender protection was included in the Civil Rights Act of 1964; National Organization for Women (NOW) was created in 1966

Feminists targeted discrimination in jobs, complaining of a “glass ceiling” (an invisible barrier) that women could never rise above; men were often hired over women because they “needed the job” as the traditional breadwinners

Sexual revolution – “the pill” form of birth control became available in the 1960s; people engage in sex with less worry over having unwanted children; women’s promiscuity becomes more accepted in comparison to men and a singles sexual culture develops; “free love”

Women became more powerful as political force as a result of feminism, fighting “sexism” and weak rape laws
Youth Culture and Counterculture

Main idea: Many young Americans turned to the counterculture of “hippies” to escape the flaws of mainstream society.

Counterculture emerged in the late 1960s; characteristics of hippies: youth, drugs, long hair and beards, psychedelic rock or folk music, Asian religions, social radicalism, communal living, art, liberal politics, free love, back to nature ideas

Some were attracted to just the cultural aspects of counterculture like fashion, “sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” while others were more involved in politics, social movements and deeper subjects

Rock music began to reflect psychedelic drug use like LSD; Woodstock Arts and Music Festival – huge hippie concert in New York in 1969

The Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco was a famous hippie neighborhood


Sounds of Change

Main idea: Rock and roll music became more aggressive, provocative, socially conscious, and reflective of change in the U.S. during the late 1960s.

Folk music became popular as protest during the early-mid 1960s, including Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Dylan

Totally sweet rock artists of the 1960s:

Bob Dylan – originally a folk protest singer, he “went electric” in 1965, revolutionizing hard rock mixed with folk, blues, and country roots and socially conscious, discontented, surreal, poetic lyrics; considered one of the greatest songwriters of all time

The Beatles – also changed their style in the late 1960s similar to Dylan’s

Rolling Stones, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin (almost all of whom were at Woodstock)

The Doors, Velvet Underground, Jimi Hendrix – psychedelic, artsy hard rock with references to drugs, sex and aggressive, charismatic singers; Jim Morrison (The Doors), Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin all died of drug abuse by 1972



Rolling Stone magazine – famous rock and roll analysis/news magazine started in 1967
Communes and Cults

Main idea: Some counterculture Americans turned to communes and cults to escape mainstream society.

Communes – intentionally-formed communities to escape mainstream society, usually communistic and independent from mainstream society; some hippies joined communes in rural and urban areas; many hippies wanted to go “back to the land” and live simply in a traditional self-sufficient fashion; many communes failed because of internal problems between the members

Exotic religious communities, sometimes referred to as cults – again, communistic close-knit groups who followed non-traditional religious practices; somewhat a continuation of the utopian communities of the early 1800s

Moonies – members of the Unification Church under Sun Myung Moon from Korea

Jim Jones was a leader of the People’s Temple in California which eventually escaped to “Jonestown” Guyana in South America; members violently resisted investigation by the US, killing a Congressman; eventually 900 of them committed suicide by drinking poisoned grape Flavor Aid in 1978 (leading to the phrase “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid!”)



Other cults existed but often go unnoticed if they do not cause controversy
Overall main idea: In response to Vietnam and social problems in the U.S., many Americans participated in protest and counterculture during the late 1960s.


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