Analyze the ways in which the Vietnam war heightened social tensions in the US. Focus your answer on the period 1964 to 1975.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Vietnam War did a tremendous amount to create and heighten social (and political) tensions in the US.  It created and emphasized a gap between people who believed in traditional values and those who did not.  This gap translated into politics, becoming a partisan issue between Republicans and Democrats.

Traditionally, American patriotism was taken to mean that people should support what the country did militarily, no matter what.  The military was seen as an extension of the country, not as something to be argued over and criticized on partisan terms.  This belief was not held by the anti-war protestors and other liberals during the Vietnam Era.  They felt that the war was wrong and they criticized the government and (less justifiably, at least in my mind) the military that carried out the government's orders.

This helped to create and exacerbate a gap between traditionalists and liberals.  It helped to create a sense that the traditionalists (to the liberals) were blind followers, not much better than Germans who went along with the Nazis.  On the other side, it helped to create a sense that liberals were people who hated the country that had given them so much in the way of material wealth and rights.  This was a huge split and it continues to some extent to this day.

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