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Summer of Hate Events

The year 1968 was called the Summer of Hate. This is perhaps about the series of events that rocked the United States in the year 1968. In January of that year, the US became part of a war that was between northern and southern Vietnam. At first, it was only involved in giving advice and air support but as the Viet Cong from the north began marching into Southern Vietnam, the US army called for more marines to be sent to southern Vietnam and a fully-fledged war was launched. It was a war of attrition designed to wear down the enemy by killing or disabling so many of its soldiers that it would be forced to surrender (Davidson, 2008).

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Meanwhile, as the war dragged on, public opinion began to shift against the war. The people at home were becoming dissatisfied with President Johnson. The media accused the White House of withholding the truth about the war from the public. Reports coming from Vietnam were claiming that there was a stalemate between the two forces. However, the White House was adamant that the war could be won. With the elections looming large, the American president was desperate to assure the public that victory was at hand. He even recalled General Westmoreland from Vietnam to come and reassure the public. His optimistic speech only served to delay the inevitable. In the end, President Johnson decided not to seek a second term in office (Willibanks 2008).

What the protestors were unhappy about

One of the leading critics of the war during this time was Dr. Martin Luther King. He claimed that many resources were being used to fund the war while poverty and inequality abounded back at home. On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, a human rights activist was assassinated in Memphis by an escaped convict. He had come to lead a peaceful rally in favor of sanitation workers who were on strike. Following his death, people took to the streets in protest (Wills, 1989).

Robert Francis Kennedy was assassinated on June 5, 1968, exactly 63 days after Martin Luther’s death. He was shot four times after delivering a speech to his campaign supporters. He was primed to be the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party and was the favorite to win the elections that year. He was opposed to the Vietnam War and more protests followed his death (Willibanks, 2008).

During these perilous times, unrest was on the increase. The youth had become more violent and gangs were sprouting up all over. It was the age of the hippies and yippie. Both groups were movements founded to cause a revolution in political and social realms in America. Their Democratic Convention was set to be held in Chicago that fateful year and it was becoming increasingly difficult for the police to distinguish between the rabble-rousers and innocent protesters (Wills, 1989).

In 1967, the Hippies movement came into the limelight. It had begun as a harmless antiwar movement but after some time, it quickly became an extremist group. It was composed of mainly youth who were protesting the Vietnam War. To gain compliance, they threatened to use such antics as poisoning the water systems with LSD. Permits for marches were denied and the city was put under curfew. This set the stage for a showdown between the police and the protesters. Antipathy was at an all-time high. The Yippie leaders, Abbie Hoffmann and Jerry Rubin (these two are the leaders) were determined to succeed. The shooting of Dean Johnson by the police sparked the violence. He was 17 years old and one of the protesters. The crowd, including reporters, joined in the confusion. Several people were injured and the protests continued (Wills, 1998).

How these events affected the election of 1968

President Johnson was increasingly becoming unpopular due to his stand in the Vietnam War. It was due to this reason that he declined to go for a second term of office. Hubert Humphrey (from my source, the name looks correct), Johnson’s vice president was thus picked to be the Democratic candidate after a fierce and controversial nomination process. Though he had a considerable amount of support, he narrowly lost to his opponent, Richard Nixon from the Republican Party.

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In conclusion, the summer of 1968 was characterized by several sad events hence earning the name summer of hate. It was during this period that the government offered to involve fully in the Vietnamese war. This was against the will of the American people. That summer also witnessed the assassination of Martin Luther King Junior and Francis Kennedy. With the increasing political unrest, the youth showed their dissatisfaction by increasingly forming gangs and movements. Among the movements during this era were the Hippies and Yippie who were devoted to cause a grand revolution that summer. All these events led to the unpopularity of President Johnson giving an upper hand to his opponent. Considering all these events in a single summer, it is true to posit that this, truly, was a summer of hate.

Reference

Davidson J, DeLay, B., Heyrman, C., Lytle, M. & Stoff, M. (2008). Nation of nations: A concise narrative of the American Republic. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Willbanks J.H. (2008). The Tet Offensive: A Concise history. New York: Columbia University Press.

Wills, C. (1989).The Tet Offensive. NJ: Silver Burdet Press.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Summer of Hate Events'. 30 November.

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