The Vietnam War And How It Empowered The Hippie Movement

By | November 29, 2016

Hippie: A person of unconventional appearance, typically having long hair and wearing beads, associated with a subculture involving rejection of conventional values and the taking of hallucinogenic drugs.

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That was the definition of a hippie which is pretty spot on when it comes to this specific subject, the Vietnam War. As the definition says hippies are known for rejecting conventional values such values including war being necessary. You can say that they have a passion against war and definitely a passion for peace. This passion came through in the form of song, sit-ins, and of course protests. As you may have guessed the most attention an issue got came via protests so that is what they had to do.

Opposition was very strong during this time due the following reasons: increase in TV coverage of battle grounds in Vietnam and increase in student activism as a result of movements such as the free speech movement and the civil rights movement. The hippie movement gained momentum because of the fact that there was TV coverage and the public was able to actually see what was happening in Vietnam tugging at the hearts of Americans across the country.

The hippie movement began the way hippies liked to express their opposition, through small peaceful sit-ins. Eventually as word got out and footage of Vietnam came out, people became more passionate along with well informed and more and more people joined the movement.

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There are many reasons hippies were resistant to the Vietnam War with one being that it was immoral like many other wars. The big question on everyone’s mind was “why did the U.S. intervene?” Yes the North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked the two U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin, but it seemed like the U.S. had gotten its revenge after bombing them back. So why would President Johnson order regular bombings of North Vietnam? It seemed to many that the U.S. had ulterior motives. Did we really want to help or was it simply to gain power? The U.S. stated the domino theory as well as the threat of communism as reasons to involve itself in a dispute that many thought should have been resolved between the people of vietnam. In addition to the question of “why get involved?” was the fact that many civilians were getting killed. Obviously hippies were for peace so innocent people and even those not innocent losing their lives was reason enough to protest.

Another reason hippies were protesting the war was because of the draft. The draft was a problem for hippies because they felt that it was specifically targeted to those in the lower and middle classes making it unfair to the average joe.

As more and more troops were being sent to Vietnam only to be wounded or killed, more and more people were joining the movement against the war. Included in this movement were now veterans who went as far as throwing away any medals they had won during their time fighting a war. An end to this war was nowhere in sight but neither were the protests.