“Rights in Conflict” & “The Chicago Democratic Convention”

The protest against the Chicago Convention devolved into a “police riot” because as the authorities began to try to clear the city of the protestors, violence erupted when protestors refused to leave and the police resorted to beatings. When the beatings against the protestors became more violent, the protestors began fighting back and resulted in a mass police-protestor war that badly injured a lot of people. Because of the unnecessary beatings and clear disapproval of protests against the Chicago Convention, protestors grew to be more violent as they fought against the war.


5 Harkness Questions

1. What did America gain in giving military aid to the Vietnamese?

2. If so, was it worth the countless deaths of Americans?

3. Where and how should the boundaries in involvement in wars be set?

4. The Civil Rights Movement was going on around the same time, shouldn’t America have been more concerned and focused on homeland problems rather than international affairs?

5. Regarding #4 question, if given the choice, what fight would you have focused on? Why?

Americans on the Vietnam War (late 1960s-early 1970s)

More and more Americans began to oppose America’s involvement with the Vietnam War when American soldiers themselves began to share their experiences in the war. When veterans admitted to committing war crimes in Southeast Asia such as rape, mutilation, shooting, and bombing, it painted a barbaric picture to America. These war crimes did not reflect what it meant to be American; it reflected what it meant to be a savage. When the story of My Lai surfaced to the public, the country’s anti-war spirits could’ve only escalated. With an estimated of 370 people–men, women, children, and babies–shot dead in one day in the village of My Lai, the truth couldn’t have sat well with many Americans. America was not supposed to be a country full of murderers but a land full of helpers, yet the story of My Lai and of veterans said otherwise. Because of that, many Americans began to strongly oppose the war.

Eyes On The Prize

The Black Panther Party, founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, was an organization whose goal, like former reform leaders such as ML King and Malcom X, was to gain the freedom from racist oppression given by the white people to the black community. Though different from ML King’s approach of non-violent, the Black Panther’s somewhat violent tactic seemed to have made impression on the 1960s society. They were a dynamic group of African Americans whose call for a long awaited revolution screamed “by any means necessary, even guns”.

Fred Hampton, a former NAACP Youth Organizer, was the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in Chicago. While the FBI sought to discredit him by claiming he used drugs, etc., they found no valid evidence that would back up their stories. On of the most influential Black Panthers members, he was described as a 21 yr old man whose words could not not move a person. During an FBI raid in Hampton’s apartment, he and Mark Clark, another leader, were shot dead.

COINTELPRO was a counterintelligence program of the FBI that emerged after political activists broke into the FBI and stole FBI operations against US Citizens and Civil Rights organizations.

Johnson vs. Potter on the Vietnam War

Johnson: “We must fight if we are to live in a world where every country can shape its own destiny; We are there because we have a promise to keep. Since 1954 every American President has offered to support the people of South Viet-Nam.”

Potter: “Vietnam, we may say, is a laboratory run by a new breed of gamesmen who approach war as a kind of rational exercise in international power politics.”


If those two quotes from the addresses of both politicians doesn’t distinguish their opinions on America’s involvement with the Vietnam War, I don’t know what will. Johnson’s point in concerning America with the Viet-Nam War is apparently purely for the reason that Viet-Nam needed help and the United States has been their ally and therefore needs to offer aid. His reasoning is help an ally in need, which could’ve resonated with many Americans for the reason that should America need help, its ally would do the same as it did for Vietnam. 

Potter’s view on the Vietnam War, however, differed dramatically as it accused the American government of using the war as an experiment for political power. He says that the war has done nothing for America but extend the governmental power to manipulate foreign countries. Potter didn’t believe that the freedom of one country is only obtained by destroying another, and because of that, his view on the Vietnam War focused solely on the intentions of the government. International power politics is what he said American government used Vietnam for–control of foreign countries, beneficial to the United States as the government saw fit.