Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Gaza Protests vs Vietnam Protests

The reporting of the Gaza protests at Universities makes the actions today seem unprecedented. They are not.  


They may not be the same, but similar protests occurred on many more campuses during the Vietnam War. Many of these were focused on the draft, but many more were focused on the results of the United States' actions in Southeast Asia.

Vietnam Protests at the University of Washington, University of Wisconsin, University of California at Santa Barbara, and Kent State


Our college years (whether in college or not) are when we begin to assert our independence. Our views start to take shape and often result in a rejection of our parents' and their generation's rules and assumptions. It might be a simple rejection of their values, or it might be the expansion of their value system but with fresh eyes and fresh results.

During Vietnam, young people began to push back on the idea that communism was worth killing people. In particular, young people pushed back on the idea that killing people to change a governmental system was wrong. IN the 1960s and 70s, they pushed back against killing innocent people to enforce America's ideas. Thousands of US deaths and more than 3 million Viet deaths on both sides drove resistance against the War.

The Gaza protests are similar, with some significant differences. 

Differences:

  1. The cause of this war was the Hamas attack and murder against Israelis. This cause meant that early support of Israel was widespread and came with much goodwill towards the Israelis.
  2. The US has no troops involved in the War
  3. There is support for both sides of the conflict: Israeli and Palestinian.
  4. New media shows the viewpoint of both sides almost immediately, whereas traditional media only shows one side.
  5. The leader of Israel seems gleeful of the destruction they are carrying out. American leaders at least pretended to be concerned during Vietnam.

Similarities:

  1. The argument is that killing more people is the only way this conflict will be ended.
  2. There is no reasonable solution we can impose on the parties to stop this war; we just keep going. We are throwing more carnage and death after carnage and death, just like we threw more and more troops at Vietnam with no question.
  3. The US power system again assumes that students don't understand the real world and can be ignored.
  4. People have no voice in these killings that are made possible with American weapons.
  5. The American government is supplying weapons and supporting the death of innocents with no input from the majority of Americans.
  6. Only hostile action by Gaza forces is shown (or earlier North Vietnamese). No one in power comes out against this war.
  7. Traditional media showed only one side of the Vietnam conflict, but as the visibility of the effects increased, opinion slowly moved. We have experienced a similar change, but new media drives this change much quicker.
I am not saying that protests against the Israeli - Hamas war have the SAME causes or are even equivalent. But I am saying that as we look at the protests, we should at least try to understand the students position. Right now all the coverage is about the protests, not about what they are protesting. This myopic view IS the same as the protests of the Vietnamese War. And if we don't understand this, it will continue along a similar trajectory.

1 comment:

  1. I think of my participation in the Vietnam protests when I watch the Gaza protests. Some credit the Vietnam anti-war movement to forcing the US to sign a peace treaty, withdraw its remaining forces, and end the draft in early 1973. Not sure if the Gaza protests will lead to anything as far as bringing peace but I do like seeing young people out their expressing their dissatisfaction with the senseless killing.

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What is too much Taylor Swift

 This much ... when the singer is used to send a message about POSSIBLE future problems?