Public Sentiment Regarding The Vietnam War

1583 words - 6 pages

Many of the democrats within the legislative branch turned against Johnson’s war. Scholar’s conflict on the reason why Johnson’s own party turned against him, some scholars attribute it to the growing number of antiwar constituents, while other scholars such as E.M. Schreiber, Burstein and Freudenburg cite the numerous deaths of American soldiers in combat. One democrat by the name of Eugene McCarthy labeled the entire Vietnam War as an “error” and describes the Johnson administration as “misguided.” McCarthy decides to run for President, but loses in the primaries by a slim margin to Johnson, further indicating that the antiwar movement was gaining significant momentum. Things were only beginning to get even worse as the Tet Offensive and the Mai Lai massacre overshadowed the propaganda speeches from Westmoreland and President Johnson. The media was once a key ally to the Johnson administration during the early stages of the war, now turned completely against American involvement. Media outlets such as Life magazine began to show pictures of dead Americans in almost every issue. In February of 1968, influential CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite, who returned from Saigon, informs Americans during his nightly broadcast that the Vietnam War could not be won. Leaks from within the White House did not help Johnson’s strategy either; the New York Times broke the news of General Westmoreland’s request of 206,000 additional troops. In August 1968, during the Democratic national convention in Chicago, 10,000 antiwar protesters gathered and were confronted by an equipped police force. The crackdown on the protesters was broadcasted on live TV. The protests indicated that the U.S. was experiencing a profound degree of social unrests. The student demographic accounted for 221 protests at 101 universities thus far in 1968. Not only were students marching, but women, who were mentioned earlier, were becoming actively involved in the demonstrations as well. Instead of initiating violent campaigns like the students, women’s groups such as Women Strike for Peace, would petition congress to determine whether the war was in “the national interest.” Many African American women viewed the war in Vietnam as racially motivated and sympathized strongly with Vietnamese women. Such concerns often propelled their participation in the antiwar movement and their creation of new opposition groups. In a sense, the mounting rage resulted in some demographics to seek diplomatic peaceful means such as creating activists groups and “Marching to Washington” campaigns. For other demographics such as students, the mounting rage led to violent clashes with the police.
C. Damage Control
In order to minimize the damage from the antiwar demonstrators, foreign conspiracy theories as a way to corner the protesters was considered heavily in the Johnson administration. Many officials believed that overseas communists were nourishing antiwar activity in the United States. No...

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