In my education, I did not learn much about the Vietnam War. From what I did learn, our teachers did not discuss how much opposition there was to the war effort. So, hearing the statistic that that “By May 1971… 61 percent thought out involvement was wrong” was striking to me. Public opinion changed so drastically and shows how the United States government failed with this war. There are always going to be antiwar movements, but in Zinn’s chapter it truly sounds like the vast majority of America was not in favor of the war.
The part that stood out to me the most is that the antiwar movement involved varying demographics of people. In most of our history, it seems that a certain demographic/socio-economic class is on each side and divides the country, but in this instance, that was not the case. Protestors included students in the middle and working-class, soldiers and veterans, civil rights activists, priests and nuns, women and men, and even citizens in the upper-class. I have never read about a war that had such resistance and created this large of a population with mutual beliefs. The war united the population. Although, not surprisingly, the media still tried to portray that there were people in support of the war. “It seems that the media themselves controlled by a higher-education, higher-income people who were more aggressive in foreign policy, tended to give the erroneous impression that working-class people were superpatriots for the war”. Zinn makes a clear argument that the working-class people were actually quite against the war.
This narrative of the Vietnam War alludes to the fact that the protesting American citizens really did play a significant part in ending the unnecessary Vietnam War, which is a rare and empowering event in our history that shows the power of the people, and that I think needs to be discussed more.
I too did not learn much about the Vietnam War in my K-12 education. It was interesting to read how members of different demographics joined together to fight for one common goal. In our country today, we are more divided than ever. American citizens have continuously protested throughout 2020. What will it take for the United States to come together again?
I also found it shocking when I read about the majority of citizens being against the war. It befuddles me how our country could think it was right to be in a war the majority of their population did not feel it was right to be in.
I found it interesting that public opinion has often not been the government’s course of action despite calling ourselves a democracy, a government for the people by the people. The public did not want to stay in Vietnam and wanted to end the war, but the few government leaders continued to leave troops there long after it was ever remotely favorable by the public. Today, the government still makes decisions without public opinion. This was seen in the last election when Donald Trump lost the popular vote but still got elected because of the electoral college system. America does not want to accept that its democratic institutions are flawed and undemocratic but change is a good thing in the long run. However, those in power do not want to be the ones to make the change and give up power no matter where their beliefs align.