The Real AntiWar Movement

Apsken at Apsken at
Sun Nov 28 15:16:28 MST 1999

Michael Pugliese wrote,

>      Being born in 1961, I'd venture that I'm younger than most of the
>  posters here but from reading and knowing vets from previous
>  my sense is that working class people by the end of the sixties hated the
>  war, but hated the anti-war movement more.

    This is nonsense. The strongest segment of the anti-war movement was in
the armed forces, mainly African American GIs, who were as proletarian as
anyone, and more so than most.
    I worked on the paper Vietnam GI, and with hundreds of resisters and
deserters. Although it was strictly illegal to possess, VGI was extremely
popular with the grunts in Nam. They provided us with the atrocity photos we
published, and with witnesses who testified at the Russell war crimes
    When I refused induction, I had no possibility of a deferment. The only
way I avoided prison was that a group of peaceniks burned all the files at my
draft board, which never managed to reconstruct them. Many of my comrades
were not so fortunate, and served the traditional 22-month sentences in
federal prisons.
    My then spouse headed an organization called National Black Draft
Counselors. One of the principal struggles we waged was against the Selective
Service System's plan to build camps for black conscientious objectors, which
they proposed precisely because the numbers of black resisters were so
enormous that they could not be processed as traditional mainly white
pacifists were. See my 1970-71 pamphlet, 30 Years of Selective Service
Racism, which her organization published.
    The fiercest repression was directed against military organizers. The FBI
gave the Secret Army Organization, a California Nazi group that had spun off
from the Minutemen, dynamite to blow up Pete Bohmer's anti-war coffeehouse
for sailors at San Diego, as one example.
    When Martin Luther King spoke out against the war, the New York Times
told him to stick to civil rights; shortly afterward, he was murdered, while
leading a strike of garbage workers in Memphis.
    Sure, bourgeois kids avoided service (or if in the service, avoided
combat), but the caricature of the anti-war movement as a million Bill
Clintons is an outrageous lie. And even millionaire resisters were vilified.
Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight boxing championship title.
    I don't know why you are so smug about a generation of dedicated,
selfless people who rose to the occasion that challenged them more than any
subsequent generation has. (Given your screen name, I wonder if you would
write the same about the World War I anti-war movement.)
    In New York, the Teamsters who attacked anti-war marchers were hired by
the Nixon administration. In Los Angeles, the so-called "Hell's Angels" (a
decption by the LA Times; they were really Nazi motocycle storm troopers led
by Mike Brown) who beat up anti-war marchers were hired by Gen. Pedro del
Valle, fascist and corporate executive (ITT or IBM? I don't recall now.).
    If actual workers hated the movement so much, why did the government and
the bourgeoisie resort to hired goons? Lyndon Johnson voiced his fear that
the masses would storm the White House and burn it down in protest of the war.
    Why do some leftists have such difficulty grasping the reality? One
problem for youngsters is that liberals and ex-radicals write memoirs, while
the rest of us move on to the next struggle that beckons, so the preponderant
published histories are biased against us.

Ken Lawrence

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