What were the main social consequences that the Vietnam War had for Americans?What were the main social consequences that the Vietnam War had for Americans?
The Vietnam War and the turbulence that surrounded it had a number of social consequences for America. Two of the most important ones include:
- It decreased people's trust in authority figures. The Vietnam War helped to turn Americans against their government. They felt that the government had lied to them about how the war was going. Others felt that the government was too quick to send Americans off to die for no good reason. In both cases, the war helped to make Americans more suspicious of their government (and then Watergate happened and that didn't help).
- It helped lead to the split we now have between traditionalists and progressives in the United States. Because of the upheavals of the '60s, there came to be a split in the US between people who held relatively liberal ideas and those who were more conservative. The war helped to deepen these differences as the conservatives saw the liberals as weak-kneed and unpatriotic and the liberals came to see the conservatives as blindly patriotic militarists and conformists. This helped to set up some of the animosity that now surrounds the "culture wars" that are so important in our political and social debates today.
There were few events in American history which had a greater effect on American Society than the Vietnam War. For the first time, Americans abandoned their "America right or wrong" attitude, and looked at the war as an issue of morality and justice. The New Left and Counterculture were direct results of opposition to the war. The "peace" movement led to new forms of dress, new grooming styles (or lack thereof) and even the mass use of marijuana as a recreational drug. I'm not sure that I agree with the post above about the split between traditionalists and progressives. The war was fought primarily during the Administration of Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, and concluded under Richard Nixon, a Republican. There was, however a sudden distrust in the military that resulted from misinformation given to the American people.
Other social consequences we might consider is the appalling treatment of those men and women returning from the war. Massive numbers of these veterans were treated as social pariahs once it was learned that they had served. These men and women also struggled with the issues of mental, emotional, and physical illnesses. Many of these veterans were additionally socially ostracized as a result of these issues. Veterans also struggled to receive medical and psychological treatment they deserved.
One of the most vivid images I remember from the Vietnam War was the nightly images that appeared on the national news. It was the first time that the media had the ability to actually broadcast the war live right into our living rooms. I feel that the medias twist on some of the stories and those images had a lot to do with the growing distrust of the government.