I was in Israel when the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed passed on August 7, 1964. Unlike the people at home I learned about it on the international press and was quickly convinced that it was a scam. As a result I cut my wonderful Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Weizmann Institute a year short ,got appointed to the Biophysics Faculty at SUNY Buffalo and came home for my second tour of duty in service of my country. The first was payback for my college education as a USMC officer from 1957 to 1960. When I got to Buffalo in 1965 things were unbelievable since I had been afforded the luxury of real news coverage while in Israel. The lies and rumors were the “news” and everything I had learned was either non-existent or buried in some underground sources. I was soon the leader of an umbrella anti-war/civil rights group that took in some 20 or more organizations in the area. Read on below for I learned a lot most of which has been lost, suppressed, or forgotten.
Much of it does remain available in a chronicle written by Mitchell Goodman The Movement Toward a New America: The Beginnings of a Long Revolution (A Collage) – A What? which I keep nearby almost like some religious people keep their Bible near. I was in the movement long before its death was insured by a huge influx of liberals who were going to save the country from the very people who worked hard and suffered, were beaten, imprisoned and even died to get it going. There were so many phases. The alliances with Martin Luther King were growing stronger and stronger. We really believed we would change the country. Our belief was widespread and I, for one, have never really lost that vision.
I’ll tell you what my experience of that time tells me the decline of our movement was due to. You will not like it but the history of the times we are in backs me up. This is kind of a chicken and egg issue but let’s see if we can sort it out.
I remember clearly the day we began to lose. It was not because of right wing opposition. That has grown significantly because we declined. On that particular day the New York Times ran an editorial on its front page by James Reston. The first paragraph condemned the war for the first time. The remaining paragraphs were devoted to condemning those of us who had sacrificed to build the movement while the liberals sat by and tried to make up their minds about which side they were on. They basically claimed that we were dangerous and needed to be controlled. Today you suffer the consequences of their ability to swindle people.
They brought things into “control”. They ran Gene McCarthy and convinced the young that elections were the way to go. “Clean with Gene” was the slogan. The right wing thrived on that. The real opposition to the plutocracy was crushed. Now we suffer the consequences. Now we are forced to regain the momentum we had for changing the country.
My own way of dealing with this has been a confused attempt to find anything that can get us back on track. I worked for Obama very hard in both elections knowing that it would do little to restore what we have lost. I could easily write a book about why this is so.
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