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Chapter 20 in this book is about the early 1970s. It argues that these were the years in which the majority of Americans, for the first time, started to hold attitudes that were hostile to the government and to business.
Zinn begins the chapter by talking about how Americans had, by the early 1970s, come to be hostile towards the government and towards big business. He thinks that the Vietnam War was the main cause of these attitudes. He argues that the war showed the moral bankruptcy of the system as the government fought for what he sees as an immoral cause and as it caused the government to mislead the people time and again.
Zinn then turns to discussing Watergate. This scandal, on top of the Vietnam War, made people even more skeptical about their government. This skepticism deepened when President Ford came to office after Nixon resigned and tried not to change policy in any significant way. Zinn argues that the elites of the United States ensured that neither Nixon nor anyone else would be punished harshly and that the basic system would not be changed.
According to Zinn, this failure to engage in any serious reform led people to hold anti-establishment attitudes by the end of Ford’s time in office.
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