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Month: November 2020

Blog Post for 11/4

In the chapter, “The Seventies: Under Control?” Zinn portrays a corrupt and dishonest government of which the American people needed time to regain trust. Zinn discusses the Watergate scandal, which involved president Nixon in the 70’s and led to him resigning. The scandal involved Nixon and other members of his administration, and the American society began to not trust Nixon. Zinn writes, “Watergate had made both the FBI and the CIA look bad – breaking the laws they were sworn to uphold, cooperating with Nixon in his burglary jobs and illegal wire-tapping” (554). Citizens of America were supposed to have faith in the government and the fact that the FBI and CIA are honest and doing good, but during this time, most felt the exact opposite. In response to the people losing trust in their system, Nixon resigned, Ford succeeded power and bad acts by the FBI and CIA were exposed. Zinn tells us, “even with these strenuous efforts, there were still many signs in the American public of suspicion, even hostility, to the leaders of government, military, big business” (556). The American people still needed more which might have been seeing changes to the system being done.

What stuck out to me most was that the government system did not really seem to do much in order for the citizens to trust them again; rather, Nixon resigned, which in a way is him just stepping back and not owning up to anything, and FBI and CIA acts were exposed, which just confirmed the American citizens suspicions. Not to mention, under Ford, 83% of Americans agreed that the people running this country are dishonest (550). This chapter allowed for me to see the distrust the people had in the government and the bigger problems within the system itself.


Blog Post 11/3

In Zinn’s chapter, “The Seventies: Under Control?”, Zinn talks about the distrust that the public had in the government during the 1970s, and how the government tried to solve it. The beginning of the seventies saw the general public being very critical of government violence. Any trust that the people had in the government was thrown out with the Watergate scandal in 1972. I always thought that Nixon’s resignation was a step in the right direction for trust the people had in the government, but Zinn talks about how nothing truly changed in government. Nixon’s successor held the same political views as Nixon, so the public did not really see change happen in the administration. I was surprised to see such a lack of change in public view before and after Nixon’s resignation, which I thought to be a turning point in the relationship between the government and people. Towards the end of the chapter, Zinn talks about how the public belief in power stayed low throughout the 70s no matter the action taken by the government. There was a lack of trust with foreign policy and the economy was at a low too, both not helping the public gain trust in the government. This really shines a light on how much the Vietnam war divided the two.

The second part of the chapter that I wanted to talk about is how Henry Kissinger decided, through all of the public criticism, that the United States needed to declare itself as a world power. I was again surprised to see another military cover-up in the Mayaguez affair happen in the middle of the public having little to no trust in the government and foreign affairs already. Though this secured the United States as a dominating power around the world, it seems ironic that the government tried many different ways to gain the publics’ trust, but then decided to create another cover-up. I was very interested in how the tension between the public and the government not only continued after the Vietnam war but actually got stronger throughout the beginning of the 70s.

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11/3 Blog Post

I was really looking forward to this chapter and I also am excited to watch the Nixon movie because one of my favorite films is All The President’s Men, which is about the two journalists at the Washington Post that were integral to exposing Watergate and the Nixon administration. However, the triumph I felt from the movie was kind of washed away by this chapter. Whenever I finish watching the movie I always feel so inspired and proud, however, now I realize that no actual progress or change what came out of Watergate. The astounding “restoration” and win for democracy that Watergate is depicted as is grossly exaggerated and seen from a very narrow scope. I felt feelings of disappointment towards The Post because even after they blew the lid off of all this corruption, they continued to be another government actor and a tool for propaganda. This deep hypocrisy is confusing to me, and I don’t which is worse- if this deception or misreporting is on purpose or if the media was also fooled by the government.

Another thing that struck me about this chapter was all the mention of “just a few bad apples, not the whole barrel” in regards to the federal government, the FBI, and the CIA. I couldn’t help but make a connection between Watergate and the current conversations about the police force and whether or not police brutality is just a consequence of a few bad, racist cops, or if it is the system as a whole that is deeply flawed. In the 70s, it was how the government operated as a whole that was corrupt, and just substituting the President out actually achieved no real change other than a surface level publicity stunt. The injustices regarding foreign policy and the extreme dishonesty to the American public still continued under Ford’s leadership. This shows a deeply systematic issue that the government and media alike didn’t want to address either out of pure laziness or to satisfy the needs of big businesses. In the 70s, the government was so set in their ways (hiding information from the public, trying to assert military and political dominance any chance they get, and profiting off of capitalism) that they could not imagine a system that operates differently. It looked extremely daunting and difficult for them to change course and try to solve these systematic issues that they thought it would be easier and more efficient to stay in this progress trap. Hopefully, we can learn from history and not repeat these same injustices when we talk about the police force and whether or not it is a few bad apples or the whole barrel.

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Sophie Peltzer 11/2 Blog Post

TW: sexual assault

In the movie Platoon, we witnessed the battle experiences of an infantry platoon during the Vietnam War. The movie draws on specific themes of the Vietnam War, such as the vast violence and loss of life, the harrowing conditions and resulting PTSD faced by many of the soldiers, and the fact that many soldiers questioned the morality of the war they were fighting in, and why they were even at war in the first place. I personally found watching the movie to be difficult. I have learned a lot about the Vietnam War in this class as well as previous classes I have taken at Richmond, but watching such scenes of violence and shooting make me very uncomfortable. Obviously, my discomfort does not compare to the absolute horrors the soldiers themselves had to face, both in Vietnam and the lasting effects from when they returned home.

Two scenes that particularly stuck out to me, and that I thought summarized the main messages about Vietnam that the movie was trying to get across, were the scenes in the village and the final scene in the helicopter. The scene in the village showed how so many Vietnamese civilians were killed during the Vietnam war, whether it was due to VietCong suspicions or simply because some soldiers were ruthless and angry. The unnecessary violence, death, and aggression calls on questions of morality during the war, and of whether the number of lives being lost was truly necessary. Specifically the shooting of the Vietnamese woman, the chief’s wife, and the gang rape of another Vietnamese woman show the true violence and horror faced by civilians, and American soldiers also had to bear witness to their fellow soldiers committing such atrocities. The final helicopter scene also showcases the vast loss of life in the disturbing footage of the mass grave with countless corpses of American soldiers, and the PTSD that the war brought for many soldiers who had to bear witness to the atrocities committed. Additionally, the voice over mentions how the war will always stay with the main character, and that although it was supposed to be a war against the NVA, it ended up being a war against each other. I think these two final statements sum up the war well, and the movie as a whole does a good job showing the realities of the Vietnam War.

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Julia Leonardi // 11.01.2020

Platoon was a movie that focused a lot on showing us the real struggles of war, not just heroic scenes meant to inspire. It really showed us how guerilla warfare is almost impossible to fight against. I think it is interesting that my whole life, I had only heard of guerilla warfare when it related to Vietnam and talk about as a smart, but unethical way of fighting, but the Americans only won the revolutionary war because they themselves used guerilla tactics. I only learned that fact recently and it shocked me because I always associated guerrilla with bad because that is how we are taught how to think through the American education system. That just goes to show how history gets manipulated because people choose to omit certain parts of what really happened to justify their anger or wrongdoings in other parts.

A scene that stood out to me was the ending when Chris says, “we didn’t fight an enemy, we fought ourselves and the enemy was within us.” I think that is a perfect line to describe the war. We always hear that we were fighting an invisible enemy when talking about the war because of guerrilla warfare, which led Americans to ultimately fight themselves. No one wanted to get drafted into the war; it was an extremely unpopular war, yet these men fought for logistically nothing. It is sad how long this tragedy lasted. So many years and so many men killed for nothing. It is truly one of the biggest American mistakes, but what interests me is that we do learn about it. I wonder if it is because it was so recent, and affected so many that still are alive today that it would be impossible to cover it all up.


Morgan Crocker Blog Post for 11/2

Watching platoon by Oliver Stone gave me a new perspective on what war is really like for soldiers. In reality it was cruel in Vietnam, what really shocked me was how untrained the soldiers were to the type of warfare in Vietnam. Guerilla warfare was used, which was a new style for the United States and was also pretty dangerous since the soldiers were so unfamiliar to the geography and climate in Vietnam.  Oliver Stone actually went to Vietnam to fight in the war, which made the movie more realistic. Unlike all the other war movies that are made just to entertain people.
What is really crazy to me is how a lot of the soldiers did not believe in this war, meaning they did not want to go and fight in Vietnam. But since they were drafted they had to go and risk their lives. Some men did volunteer to go to Vietnam, but either way these men came back to the United States changed because of all that they have seen and been through in Vietnam.


Delaney Demaret Blog Post for 11/2

Oliver Stone’s Platoon has been praised for its brutal, yet honest depiction of wartime horrors during American deployment in Vietnam. The use of harsh violence does not seek to blindly heroicize soldiers, but to depict a sort of reality that gives a greater insight into life for soldiers during the war. While it is a war movie, it’s fair to say that it is a sort of protest in itself. It rejects the go-to heroic narrative of most war movies, instead opting for a more raw view of a less-than-united front. Taylor’s entrance into and exit from serving are both symbolic of issues that plagued soldiers, inexperience and painful emotional trauma.

Platoon begs an analysis of media that seeks signs of protest in unexpected places. The American counterculture ranged from larger and explicit movements like protests to smaller, day to day implicit protests and declarations of anti-establishment. The movie falls somewhere within this scale, with the ability to reach a wide range of audiences- after all, counterculture movies like “Hair” (my Mom’s personal favorite) do not necessarily attract viewership that hasn’t already bought into the movement and all its oddities. The existence of Platoon as a movie about war, written by a veteran, appeals to the idea that those who experienced the trauma firsthand are often the most raw and powerful creators of subversion and protest in the media. 

I hold that sometimes, the best forms of protest to historically analyze are those that subvert establishment powers by implicit means, surprising viewers like Platoon does. Do you all have any favorite movies or other media that accomplishes this feat?