United States workers against Vietnam war

This video is about opposition to the Vietnam war by world boxing champion Muhammad Ali.

Vietnam Era Memoir Shows Working Class History of Anti-War Organizing. John Maher, Charles Street Press: “I was convinced that the ultimate success of the anti-war movement depended on its support in working-class and minority communities, where the war hit hardest in terms of its economic consequences, lives disrupted, and lives lost. In twelve months spanning 1965-66, 85 percent of all men drafted had a high-school education or less. I joined the Boston Draft Resistance Group, a disciplined and creative effort to build the anti-war movement in working-class and minority communities”: here.

27 thoughts on “United States workers against Vietnam war

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  27. 50 years ago: US trade union leaders organize “hard-hat riot” attack on antiwar students
    Peter J. Brennan’s portrait as US Secretary of Labor

    On May 8, 1970, about 200 right-wing workers and union officials attacked a group of about 1,000 high school and college students who had gathered at New York City Hall to protest the expansion of the Vietnam war into Cambodia and the killing of four students at Kent State University by the National Guard.

    The student-led antiwar demonstrations began on the morning of a Friday workday with students demanding an end to the war and to all military-related research on university campuses. Around noon, construction workers wearing hard hats and carrying American flags arrived and began attacking the students with clubs. The police, who were aware ahead of time that the counter-demonstrations would take place, were on the scene but allowed the students to be beaten without interfering.

    The mob would eventually storm city hall and force the raising of the flag, that had been lowered to half-mast in the wake of the Kent State killings, to be returned to full height. By the time the riot concluded, over 70 students were injured and required hospital treatment. Only six arrests were made.

    The “Hard Hat Riot” as the event became known, was carried out under the influence of the Peter J. Brennan, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. Brennan was a political crony of Nixon and would be selected to serve as his secretary of labor in 1973.

    Nixon and his allies like Brennan hoped that by mobilizing some of the more backward and reactionary elements in the unions, handpicked by the bureaucrats, students could be intimidated from agitating among workers. Behind this was a more crucial aim—to separate, to the extent possible, a mounting strike wave by workers from taking on a consciously antiwar and anti-capitalist political character.

    The Workers League, the American predecessor of the Socialist Equality Party, sought to clarify the issue to the workers and students in an open letter published in The Bulletin. The statement declared, “The hundreds of workers who demonstrated in open support of Nixon and Agnew, the Vietnam War, and the ‘establishment’ were, whether they know it or not, coming out for their bitter enemies and for cutting their own throats.”

    As news of the attack spread, students and anti-war workers expressed an even deeper desire to protest against the war. May 8th saw massive demonstrations in Washington D.C. of over 100,000, and 150,000 turned out in San Francisco the same day. The National Guard was called out against students on 21 different campuses across the country.



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