The Power of Protest: House Resolution Honors Vietnam Anti-war Protesters
April 29, 2016
Tom Hayden / Vietnam War Summit & Hon. Barbara Lee / US House of Representatives
California Rep. Barbara Lee has introduced a US House Resolution recognizing the Vietnam anti-war movement as, "one of the largest and most prolonged efforts to achieve peace and justice in recent generations and was critical to bringing an end to the war." Anti-war leader Tom Hayden notes: "The debate over the War . . . is still alive." Last year 1,000 peace activists gathered at the MLK Memorial to challenge the Pentagon's narrative of the Vietnam War.
"Boys Who Said NO! Indiegogo Tease and pitch from Judith Ehrlich on Vimeo.
ACTION ALERT: Film Documents Draft Resistance during the Vietnam War
Features Joan Baez, Daniel Ellsberg, David Harris and others
Indiegogo Film Fundraising Campaign Currently Underway
(April 22, 2016) -- The Boys Who Said NO!, a documentary in progress, will be the first film to document the story of the young men who chose prison rather than be conscripted, in order to help end the American War in Vietnam. This was the first incidence in US history of mass refusal to fight in order to stop a war.
Nonviolent direct action movements in the United States fought to abolish slavery, win the vote and other rights for women, fulfill the promise of civil rights, and move the nation towards equality and peace. In this tradition, thousands of young people followed their consciences during the Vietnam War, troubled by our conduct of the war, and by war itself.
Over half a million young men evaded or resisted the draft. Tens of thousands were arrested, risking fines and prison terms for their active, visible refusal to cooperate with the draft and the military. More than 3,250 served time in federal prison.
Featuring interviews with the men and women involved, and archival materials, The Boys Who Said NO! tells the important but little known story of those who organized resistance to the draft and risked prison for refusing military service. The film explores the impact these men, and the women who worked with them, had on society, on the draft and the war, and on their own future lives. Their experiences speak to many conflicts and strugles today.
BOYS is directed by Judith Ehrlich, Oscar-nominated for The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. The film features folk singer and peace activist Joan Baez, draft resistance organizer David Harris, whistle blower Daniel Ellsberg who released the Pentagon Papers detailing massive government deception about the war, and former Weatherman Mark Rudd, among many others.
The film has mounted an Indiegogo fundraising campaign that lasts through April 30 to help raise funds to complete the film. Over 200 individuals have donated to the campaign so far. Visit the film’s website at www.boyswhosaidno.com to learn more.
The Power of Protest, Restoring the Memory of the Peace Movement
Tom Hayden / Remarks to the Vietnam War Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library
AUSTIN, Texas (April 26, 2016) -- Thank you Mark Updegrove, Director of the LBJ Library. Thank you Colonel Mark Franklin, Chief of History and Legacy at the Pentagon's Vietnam Commemoration Office. Thank you Jim Knotts & Reema Ghazi, from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. Thank you Jim Popkin for reaching out at the beginning of this process.
Thank you for your gracious invitation to this significant opportunity for introspection into the Vietnam War and its peace movement opposition. The reconstructions of our legacies live on. I myself have just finished my third book on Vietnam, to be published next year by Yale University Press, tentatively titled Vietnam and the Power of Protest.
My earlier books appeared decades ago: The Other Side, with Staughton Lynd [1966, New American Library, 1966], and The Love of Possession Is a Disease with Them [Holt Rinehart Winston, 1972]. I also have taught Vietnam classes at Immaculate Heart College, Pitzer and Scripps colleges in Claremont, and a seminar with Democratic staff in the US House of Representatives. Currently, I am excited by the works of Viet Thanh Nguyen, on memory and forgetting, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize this month for his novel, The Sympathizer.
The debate over the War and anti-war movement is still alive. Last year 1,000 peace activists gathered at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church and the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington D.C. to challenge and engage with the Pentagon's narrative of the war, which we considered to be unbalanced. Those discussions, held at Fort Myer, have been fruitful, unresolved, and ongoing. I note the presence here today of Joe Galloway, who took part in that first Fort Myer's dialogue.
Today I am distributing a new House of Representatives Resolution by Rep. Barbara Lee, a peace and justice leader over many years, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and the movement to end it.
The resolution reads in part that, "The movement to end the Vietnam War was one of the largest and most prolonged efforts to achieve peace and justice in many generations and war critical to bringing and end to the war."
There is no question of our impact. We helped turn two presidents out of office. We ended military conscription. Year after year, our numbers in the streets grew until it reached millions and became the largest peace movement in our country's history. The peace movement was not unlike the "general strike" described by W.E.B. Dubois in his history of Reconstruction.
It included resistance and walkouts among our troops from military bases to battleships. It spread through communities of color, African-American, Puerto Rican, Latino, Native American, and Asian-American, and from there to campus communities in unprecedented student strikes and moratoriums. While hippies were being demonized, they too were withdrawing from what they considered a repressive and militarized culture.
The movement led as well to the opposition of many Democrats and not a few Republicans. The military, the universities, and the political order were shaken by the withdrawal of millions from their first attachment to the status quo.
American women withdrew from militarism and helped lead the anti-war movement too, as did so many then-closeted LGBT people. The whole phenomenon deserves greater respect and serious research at future conferences like this.
Though many Americans will agree with this assessment, many others hold firm to the belief expressed by President George H.W. Bush after the first Gulf War in 1991 that "By God, we've kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all." Thousands of Americans and millions of Iraqis later died in this war to stamp out a syndrome, which President Bush likened to a mental disorder.
The fundamental reason for these persistent efforts to reclaim victory in Vietnam is a fear in many politicians and their national security advisers of accepting our defeat in 1975. Many of us would argue that the Vietnam war was doomed to failure as early as 1946 when our government armed the French for their march to folly at Dienbienphu, then blocked the nationwide elections promised by the Geneva Accords of 1954.
An official acceptance of defeat in battle, a kind of Custer Syndrome, would lead to a reputational loss as well a painful acknowledgement to military families that their sons fought honorably but under misguided policies imposed by a bipartisan caste of politicians. The political corollary at home was a frightening threat to our own democracy, from McCarthyism to Watergate to COINTELPRO.
This backlash continues today. I felt it was astonishing that our Secretary of State, John Kerry, who was a founding member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War [VVAW] was viciously 'swift-boated' out of the presidential race in 2004.
He suffered wounds in actually fighting communist forces while so many others in office sat home and enjoyed their immunity. An exception that fought and suffered was Senatir John McCain, who went on with Kerry to a historic diplomatic breakthrough when the US-Vietnam relationship was normalized.
The irony is that our two countries are in a de facto partnership to promote trade and limit China's expansionism in the Pacific. I myself pray that the partnership fulfills our obligation to do everything possible to treat Agent Orange victims and remove the unexploded ordinance that continues to wound or kill this generation of Vietnamese civilians.
Here is another painful contradiction we must confront. Hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese troops were paid for, trained and sent to their deaths under our command, but their honor has never been recognized.
One reason that our own government does not recognize their fate is that such a change in policy would entitle their families to benefits. The Boat People are honored, but not the Saigon troops who sacrificed for us. Reconciliation requires respect for their side, from Hanoi to Washington DC.
The people of Laos and Cambodia are receding from our memory as well.
I ask you, are we not all Vietnam veterans in our own way? Were we not all lied to and divided by our government? Isn't the shared experience of our generation that we were mutually manipulated into that cauldron? And who was responsible, those of us in our twenties or those who were in power? Judge for yourselves.
Dr. Henry Kissinger, who operated from the very pinnacle of power during those Indochina Wars, and who defended the establishment throughout, must especially reflect on the responsibilities he carries. I personally would welcome a real dialogue with Dr. Kissinger, which requires a frank admission of the part one played.
I personally regret my own part in many decisions the peace movement made, and await an acknowledgement and apology from Dr. Kissinger as well. This conference offers a great opportunity for inner reconciliation. In the absence of that opportunity, I must decline your invitation to the dinner with Dr. Kissinger on April 26.
Rep. Barbara Lee Recognizes
Vietnam Peace Movement in House Resolution
WASHINGTON (APRIL 21, 2016) -- Rep. Barbara Lee has introduced a House Resolution (H.Res.695) recognizing the Vietnam anti-war movement as, "one of the largest and most prolonged efforts to achieve peace and justice in recent generations and was critical to bringing an end to the war." Rep. John Conyers became a co-sponsor as an effort begins to seek endorsements from other congressional representatives.
The Lee resolution is a direct result of last year's May 1-2 commemoration of the movement at a conference in Washington DC.
The peace resolution will draw the ire of Republicans and reluctance of some Democrats. The Vietnam peace movement is the only Sixties movement that has been marginalized instead of memorialized.
Yet it was a life-changing experience for many during the war, including thousands of soldiers and veterans, and the US government has tried to stamp out what they call "the Vietnam Syndrome."
The Lee Resolution is an organizing tool for anyone wanting to respond to the Pentagon's recent false narrative of history on its website. If grass-roots organizers visit, engage and petition their congressional offices, there is a strong chance for reinvigorating the continuing debate over Vietnam.
2D SESSION H. RES. ll
Recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War,
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Ms. LEE submitted the following RESOLUTION
Recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War,
Whereas the Vietnam War began on 1964 and ended in 1975;
Whereas more than 58,000 United States citizens were killed, approximately 10,786 were wounded, and 75,000 veterans left seriously disabled;
Whereas it is estimated that more than 1,500,000 people from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia died as a result of the War, and many more were wounded or displaced;
Whereas thousands of people continue to suffer from the lethal effects of exposure to Agent Orange and unexploded ordnance;
Whereas the movement to end the Vietnam War was one of the largest and most prolonged efforts to achieve peace and justice in recent generations and was critical to bringing an end to the War;
Whereas the movement to end the Vietnam War was broad and included students, professors, workers, draft resisters, United States service members and veterans, musicians and artists, candidates for Congress and the presidency, and mobilized a majority in opposition to the Vietnam war;
Whereas the movement generated the largest protests, moratorium actions, and mobilizations in United States history, including a strike of 4,000,000 students from across the Nation following the United States invasion of Cambodia in 1970, multiple acts of protest and resistance on military bases and ships around the world, and the rise of Vietnam Veterans Against the War;
Whereas United States expenditures on the Vietnam War impacted domestic resources, including for President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty;
Whereas the 1970 blue-ribbon Scranton Report on campus unrest in the United States recognized the growing opposition to the Vietnam War by stating that, ''The crisis on American campuses has no parallel in the history of this nation. This crisis has roots in divisions of American society as deep as any since the Civil War. If this trend continues, if this crisis of understanding endures, the very survival of the nation will be threatened'';
Whereas Vietnam peace memorials have been erected at Kent State University in Ohio, the steps of Sproul Hall at the University of California, and the peace memorial adjacent to the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California;
And Whereas peace and reconciliation research programs were widely incorporated in high school and university classrooms after the Vietnam War era: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives --
(1) Commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War;
(2) Recognizes that the movement to end the Vietnam War was one of the largest and most prolonged efforts to achieve peace and justice in recent generations and was critical to bringing an end to the War;
(3) Acknowledges the role of those who participated in public protests, teach-ins, and opposition to the War, and the many people who supported political candidates of both parties who sought to end the War;
(4) Applauds the establishment of educational programs at colleges and universities across the United States that are focused on conflict transformation and peace building; and
(5) Urges continued efforts during this 50th anniversary period to reflect on the lessons learned from the Vietnam War and to recommit to sustained diplomacy that prevents conflict.
CONFERENCES & EVENTS
April 26-28th in Austin, Texas, the Vietnam War Summit presented by the LBJ Presidential Library, with a keynotes by Henry Kissinger and John Kerry, and panel with Tom Hayden, Marilyn Young, and David Maraniss titled, "The War At Home".
Also join Tom Hayden on May 7 at Skylight Books in LA for a conversation with this year's Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, author Viet Thanh Nguyen, to discuss his new book NOTHING EVER DIES: VIETNAM AND THE MEMORY OF WAR.