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Candle in a Dark Time
Corporations Stripped Naked
Baby of Bataan
Confessions of a
How to Develop
The Others at Monticello
My Life: A Story
The Gospel According
The Real Deal: A Spiritual
Reflections on Death,
Death 101: A Workbook for
Kerry vs. Bush
By J. F. Miglio
In the late1960s and early ’70s, the mainstream news media stupidly (and quite typically, as we have discovered) chose to oversimplify the drama and importance of that era by neatly dividing the nation into two distinct camps. Anyone who protested against the Vietnam War and the corrupting influences of Big Business and the CIA was cast in pejorative terms: “radicals,” “peaceniks,” “anarchists.”
In fact, without actually coming right out and saying it– although they were not averse to using the full force of selective imagery or subliminal messages to underscore their meaning– the mainstream news media frequently depicted the protestors as the bad guys, or at very least, left-wing nuts who wanted to turn America into a decadent socialist state.
In contrast, they depicted anyone who supported the Vietnam War and had no beef with Big Business or the CIA as the good guys; they were the “patriots,” the “true Americans,” the “silent majority” (to use Richard Nixon’s term) who wanted to keep America the way it was, a “Pleasantville” frozen in a 1950s paradigm.
At the time, anyone with half a brain (in other words, about 10% of the American public) realized what the media was doing and tried to convince them that by stereotyping Americans and dividing them into two opposing camps was not good for democracy or the future of the country.
Naturally, it fell on deaf ears, and the situation became even more divisive as many protestors against the Vietnam War became targeted by the police and blacklisted by the government, including Vietnam vets who protested against the war when they returned home. As a result, the country became even more polarized and paranoid.
On one side were the “doves,” Americans who were against the war. Although there were notable exceptions, most doves were anti-establishment iconoclasts who supported equal rights for women and minorities.
Yes, many of them smoked pot and experimented with hallucinogenic drugs; studied Eastern religions and engaged in free love; grew their hair long and attended political demonstrations (as was shown over and over by the media). But many of them were also very studious and ambitious (like Bill Clinton), or willing to risk their lives or reputations for what they believed in (like John Kerry). In short, they were “hip.”
On the other side were the “hawks,” Americans who supported the Vietnam War. Although there were notable exceptions, most hawks were pro-establishment conformists who wanted to keep women and minorities in their place.
For the most part, they hated pot and psychedelic drugs, did not stray from their religious or cultural heritage, wore their hair short and attended church picnics or Kiwanis Club meetings.
Like their hip counterparts, many of them also were very studious and ambitious (like Newt Gingrich) or willing to risk their lives or reputations for what they believed in (like Oliver North). In short, they were “straight.”
Hipsters admired JFK, Gore Vidal, and John Maynard Keynes; straights admired Nixon, William F. Buckley Jr., and Ayn Rand.
The difference between the two sides could not have been more striking. But it would all come down to one event that would determine the future of the country, one political match-up that would prove which side would win the hearts and minds of the American public for the foreseeable future: the 1972 presidential election between Richard Nixon, the hawkish candidate with the undistinguished military career who represented the silent majority, or the dovish George McGovern, a genuine World War II hero, who represented the anti-war movement. Sound familiar?
Of course, we all know the outcome of that election: McGovern got trounced, and Nixon became Prez, only to resign in disgrace. Ironically, Nixon did get us out of Vietnam– better late than never– but it took the most hawkish of the hawks of the Vietnam era, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, to finally publicly admit a few years ago– again, better late than never– that the war was a big mistake.
If you are a traditional publishing house and would like to submit your books for consideration to “Recommended Reads,” click here.
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