Students protesting – a symbol of living in the U.S. in the 1960s during the Vietnam War era. But an expression of the Youth generation all over the world.
How students were largely responsible for shutting France down in 1968 was a source of amazement and wonder to those of us in High School at the time. How protests went from being largely peaceful affairs to one which ended in violence and on occasion death, was a sign that protesting wasn’t met with approval from many, especially from those in positions or who were considerably older than us.
Students protesting the war were condemned in the mainstream media for the most part – one radio commentator referred to student protestors as “kidiots” – and many showed disdain; saying those protesting the Vietnam War should be drafted and sent over immediately, or shot or were spoiled rich kids or shiftless hippies who were only there to cause trouble. The idea that students, particularly high school students, had no real cause to protest or were just mindless kids with nothing better to do.
It sounds so much like the current wave of High School protests. So much so that, I am hearing the familiar chant; “Hey-Hey, NRA – How many kids Did you kill Today” an exact take on “Hey-Hey LBJ – How many kids did you kill today”. Eerie similarities and, in some cases similar disdain. This was two months after the debacles at Kent and Jackson State College.
But where students got routinely arrested, beaten and shot – this current crop are peaceful but committed. They are everything we wished we were at the time.
But to give you some idea of the resistance and the relative disdain the Student protest movement received at the time, here is a discussion as part of the program Kup’s Show, hosted by columnist and commentator Irv Kupcinet. In addition to featuring a young Jesse Jackson, there are also representatives of the right-wing Young Americans For Freedom – and it does bubble over into yelling.
But this was the state of things during the Vietnam War period. It was no met with open arms, much like the current call for responsible gun legislation – there are detractors and those who ridicule.
And almost 50 years ago we were just trying to be heard and be taken seriously – because we were being drafted and because this was before the 18 year-old vote and we had no other voice in the matter.