- Film Clips
- 1. Martin Luther King, Jr., Criticizes the War (1967)
- 2. Minutes of a Meeting of the National Organization of Women (1967)
- 3. Esther Peterson Decides to Support the ERA (1971)
- 4. Excerpt from Philip Caputo’s Vietnam memoir (1977)
- 5. Excerpt from Richard Brookhiser’s memoir
- 6. The “Streaking” Craze of 1974
- 7. Milliken v. Bradley (1974)
- “LBJ and Vietnam” on Firing Line with William F. Buckley, Jr. (1967) watch
- Muhammad Ali on Firing Line (1968) watch
- “The Equal Rights Amendment” on Firing Line (1973) watch
- Alice Moore Complains about Lack of Guidelines for School Textbooks (1974) watch
- Reverend Marvin Horan Tells Protestors to Keep Their Kids Out of School (1974) watch
- Busing Riots in Louisville, Kentucky (1975) watch
1. Martin Luther King, Jr., Criticizes the War (1967)
In April 1867, King delivered a speech at Riverside Church in Manhattan explaining his reasons for speaking out against the war in Vietnam.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here tonight, and how very delighted I am to see you expressing your concern about the issues that will be discussed tonight by turning out in such large numbers. …
I come to this great magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization that brought us together, Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam. …
Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns, this query has often loomed large and loud: “Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent?” “Peace and civil rights don’t mix,” they say. “Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people?” they ask. And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment, or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live. In the light of such tragic misunderstanding, I deem it of signal importance to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church—the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate—leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.
I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia, … but rather to my fellow Americans.
Since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything on a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.
Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.
My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years, especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, “What about Vietnam?” They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.
For those who ask the question, “Aren’t you a civil rights leader?” and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957, when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: “To save the soul of America.” We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself until the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. …
Now it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read “Vietnam.” It can never be saved so long as it destroys the hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that “America will be” are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land. …
For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam. Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of their reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization. …
Surely this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroy, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor in America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and dealt death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours. …
2. Minutes of a Meeting of the National Organization of Women (1967)
Excerpts from Minutes, National Conference of NOW, November 1967, Betty Friedan Papers, 1952-1993, Carton 44, Folder 1550, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. 13 pp.
Minutes of the National Organization for Women Conference
The annual meeting of the National Organization for Women was held in the meeting rooms of the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC, November 18, and 19, 1967. The meeting was called at 9:00 AM, Saturday, November 18, 1967, in the Chinese Room.
President Betty Friedan presided over the meeting; Nancy Homer was the recording secretary. …
About 100 members were present
An introduction to the meeting was given by President Betty Friedan, outlining the policy of NOW and the work done in the past year. NOW is working for the enforcement of the sex clause in the 1964 Civil Rights Bill by helping women in job discrimination cases. NOW is tired of window dressing and would wish women to be represented in all major policy making decisions of government, state, and local organizations. In the 1968 elections let us make it clear that women demand representation in political parties. Congressmen, et al. must be told that we will not support them unless women are considered. …
Adjourned 11:00 AM
Reconvened 2:00 PM, Saturday, November 18, 1967
President Betty Friedan presided.
Betty Friedan: The purpose of this afternoon meeting is to discuss and vote upon two resolutions: A resolution urging the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to approve the Equal Rights amendment and to call the Ninetieth Congress to approve this amendment, for the submission to the States for ratification.
And a resolution endorsing the principle that it is a basic right of every woman to control her reproductive life, and that those laws preventing abortion should be repealed.
As a preliminary to discussion of the Equal Rights Amendment, an example of what the law would amend was introduced. If an Equal Rights Amendment was passed, job discrimination would be outlawed. As of now, women are discriminated against by state protective laws. If the Equal Rights Amendment was passed and enforced, if the fair practices section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was enforced, state protective laws would be illegal.
An example of a job discrimination case NOW helped was the case of three women from Indiana who were denied higher paying jobs with the Colgate-Palmolive Company because of new weight-limit restrictions imposed on women workers. Georgiana Sellers, Ann Casey, and Lena Moore filed a complaint against the company for job discrimination, basing their complaint on Title 7 of the Civil Rts. Act. In the state of Indiana there is no state protective law prohibiting women from lifting 35 lbs. or more. To win the case, the company employers went beyond the borders of the state and enforced the protective law in their factory because in two other of their factories in different states they had the protective laws. The judge ruled in the company’s favor. The case is on appeal.
Pauli Murray recommended a fund be set up for job discrimination cases. The recommendation was set aside for future discussion.
The resolution calling for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment was passed out and read aloud:
WHEREAS, the National Organization of Women (NOW) is incorporated for the purposes of taking action to achieve equal rights and responsibilities in all aspects of citizenship, public service, employment, education, and family life; and
WHEREAS, women have been unsuccessfully seeking equal rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution through litigation extending over a full century; and
WHEREAS, NOW is actively assisting women workers in seeking to invoke the protection of the United States Constitution to strike down statutes and official practices which deprive women of equal job opportunities; and
WHEREAS, other classes of women persons have been adjudged full recognition by the courts of complete equality without class distinction; and
WHEREAS, the Equal Rights Amendment would unequivocally secure the right to equal treatment under the law without differentiation based on sex; and
WHEREAS, opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment in the past was principally based on the presumed need for special “protective” labor legislation for women, the basis for which opposition Congress has removed by the enactment of the equal employment opportunity provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and
WHEREAS, there is now pending in Congress various joint resolutions, such as S.J. Res. 54 and H.J. Res. 52, which would amend the U.S. Constitution to provide that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
BE IT RESOLVED THAT, NOW urge the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to immediately report favorably on the Equal Rights Amendment and call upon the Ninetieth Congress to approve this amendment, without qualification, for submission to the States for ratification.
The resolution was read and followed by discussion from the floor.
Wilma Heide: Before we do anything, we must agree on the policy and principal of the resolution, not on timing or strategy.
Pauli Murray: Would like to make a substitute motion at a later time.
P. Indritz: The amendment will not be passed at this time. This amendment does not protect against company discrimination, just against state and federal discriminatory laws. We must have strategy and timing. This time is not good. No attention will be paid to the bill. First let us occupy ourselves with building a large membership, building a large fund, knowing where the areas of discrimination are and then attacking those areas.
Barbara Burris: This resolution is a tactic to be used. Either way the amendment goes—passed or not—women would know which senators are interested or not.
Patricia McDonald: We should focus our attention on this amendment. If we got support from others, then we would also be supported by the senators.
Elizabeth Farians: We must put support behind this bill. …
Julia Arri: Moved the resolution. …
Newfeld: Even if NOW organization gets votes in support of the amendment, three fourths of the states are required to pass the amendment; it is very doubtful that we will get that kind of support.
Farians: We should, instead of pushing it, put it down on record that we are in favor of the amendment and let it go at that. …
Pauli Murray: We should not take action on this serious proposal at this meeting. Let us consider alternatives.
(Unparliamentary discussion among members.)
Pauli Murray: The substitute motion I make is this: We must first consider whether women’s rights are covered under the 5th and 14th amendments before we consider this resolution. If NOW takes a strong stand on the resolution as it stands we will alienate organizations who have given us support until now. We would form a committee to study the question!
Barbara Ireton: We have many organizations behind us already.
(???): We don’t want to appear like women who just want to make noise.
(???): In Maryland the amendment was passed unanimously. Why couldn’t we get support?
Grace Cox: The alternative motion must be heard.
Dorthy Haener: This is not an opportune time to give NOW support to the resolution supporting the Equal Rights Amendment. The UAW, which I officially represent, supplies NOW with supplies and services such as free paper, printing, mailing etc. If this resolution is passed, since the UAW is against it, then the services will no longer be supplied. I think we need support from organizations, and although I am personally in support of the resolution, I do not see how the support of the amendment will accomplish much at this time. Consider Pauli’s substitute motion.
Cruthers: We must get our rights. In the political area, if the Equal Rights amendment is not passed, it will hamstring women in politics.
Delores Alexander: Will NOW be split because of the Equal Rights resolution?
(???): Why shouldn’t we bring the Equal Rights bill before Congress? Many bills have not been passed the first time they appear before the Congress. At least we will make a start.
Symchat: If we give this Rights Amendment support, many organizations who are supporting us will withdraw.
Marguerite Rawalt: In 1923 the 1st bill on civil rights was brought to Congress. It did not succeed. We received the protective amendment in lieu of civil rights. We have never had an equal job law, as yet we have had no decisions favorable under Title 7 of the Civil Rights vote.
Inka O’Hanrahan: We must stand up and be counted. We are individuals and we want equal opportunity under law. Vote against the substitute motion.
A motion was made and seconded to vote on the substitute motion.
The substitute motion was read: To set up a committee to study the question whether or not women’s rights were covered by the 5th and 14th amendments, and when the study is completed the board will bring up the question again.
Vote on substitute motion:
The substitute motion was defeated, and the debate on the Equal Rights Amendment [continued]. …
A vote on the motion to close debate on the Equal Rights resolution was passed by a 2/3 majority.
The resolution was read:
BE IT RESOLVED THAT, NOW urges the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to immediately report favorably on the Equal Rights Amendment and call upon the Ninetieth Congress to approve this amendment, without qualification, for submission to the States for ratification.
Vote on Resolution
The Abstentions are recorded.
The second motion, made stating that we should discuss the wording of the resolution was not voted on. It was decided the wording could be worked out later.
There was a short break before the meeting discussed the resolution on abortion.
Announcement by Grace Cox: NOW will be incorporated in DC in two weeks.
The meeting discussed that the following proposal be added as an amendment to the United States Constitution:
The right of a woman to prevent conception and with proper Medical safeguards to terminate her pregnancy shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state.
… Discussion from the Floor:
(???): It is the constitutional right of each woman. This is part of the sexual revolution.
(???): This resolution would be a step to overcome the plight of the poor.
(???): We must have responsible parentage.
(???): Negro women are forced to get abortions so they will not lose their welfare checks.
(???): So far not a thought has been given to women, who are the most concerned on the question of abortion. A conference that was held in Washington a while ago had not one woman in attendance.
(???): We must have an education campaign.
(???): How old must you be to be sexually free?
Rossi: If no harm will come of it, People should be free to do as they chose. If they want pre-marital relations, then let them.
Indritz: NOW should not support pre-marital relations. …
Page Palmer: People will not join this organization if we adopt this resolution.
Kevin Sweeney: People will not become members—the American Law Institute’s bills are sufficient.
Rossi: The ALI bills are very limited. Abortions may be performed only in the case a woman’s physical or mental health would be impaired, or in case of rape, incest, or other felonious intercourse. The abortions may be okayed only by a panel of five—this committee may stall around if they want to—by then it is too late to obtain an abortion or take your case to another panel. It is a woman who is responsible for the care of a child. Let it be her decision.
(???): If we do not take a stand, a strong stand on this issue we will take a loss in membership of girls in their 20’s. We women must have courage to take this stand. …
Farians: The Catholic members of NOW will quit even though many things are changing in the church. Some avant-garde theologians are already debating the question of abortion.
(???): I am against murder.
(???): What are you putting on Me? Each woman has a right to decide whether or not she will or will not have an abortion. …
(???): There are other organizations devoted to this question. Why does NOW have to be? Show me another organization and I’ll back out of this one.
(???): There are other, new responsibilities. I recommend we bring this question up next year …
Fox: WE have a grave responsibility to other members. Don’t table the abortion stand but don’t alienate people in the process.
Rawalt: We have our newspaper image to think of. Why not leave local chapters to okay abortion or not?
(???): We must be cautious. We don’t want to be considered a NUT group. …
Discussion from the floor ended. A motion was made and seconded that a vote should be taken on the resolution. (Allowing for the change: “and all laws penalizing abortion shall be repealed.”)
Vote on the resolution concerning abortion
The resolution was passed.
3. Esther Peterson Decides to Support the ERA (1971)
Esther Peterson to Martha Griffiths, 12 October 1971, Esther Peterson Papers, 1884-1998, Box 54, Folder 1061, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. 2 pp.
7714 13th Street, N.W.
Washington, D. C. 20012
October 12, 1971
As you know, I have in the past been reluctant to support the equal rights amendment because of a long-standing concern for the low-income women workers who are so frequently exploited. Then, too, I was deeply involved the work of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women and concurred with its conclusions that the Constitution embodies equality of rights for women in the fifth and fourteenth amendments. We did not feel that a constitutional amendment was needed at that time. We urged that definitive court pronouncement, particularly by the United States Supreme Court be sought so as to establish the principle of equality firmly in constitutional doctrine.
The action we had hoped for in the courts has not materialized and the increasingly conservative nature of the Supreme Court leads one to conclude that women’s chances for assistance through judicial action are slight.
After much soul searching I have come to the conclusion that the time for waiting for court action is past and enactment of the equal rights amendment would be a constructive step. It is difficult for me to make this statement. I realize that it will come as a disappointment to many individuals and organizations with whom I shared the opposite view for away years. However, such has happened in the past decade to improve the prospects for women — the Equal Pay Act, extension of coverage of the Fair Labor Standards Act, Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act, prohibiting sex discrimination in employment policies, and the amended Executive Order 11246. Also heartening are efforts to strengthen this recent legislation.
In the process, ouch state protective legislation for women has been, in effect, nullified. I note that all but twelve states have either repealed or relaxed their hours laws. Now I believe we should direct our efforts toward replacing discriminatory state laws with good labor standards that will protect both men and women.
History is moving in this direction and I believe women must move with it. But it entails a shared responsibility for all citizens. That is why I would urge women who have found changes in the laws to be to their advantage to make every effort to assist those who still may be exploited.
My congratulations to you, Martha, for taking a courageous and foresighted position. I am happy that I can now share it with you.
4. Excerpt from Philip Caputo’s Vietnam memoir (1977)
This excerpt is taken from A Rumor of War, a memoir of the Vietnam War published by journalist Philip Caputo in 1977.
As fighting increased, the additional duty of casualty reporting officer kept me busiest. It was also a job that gave me a lot of bad dreams, though it had the beneficial effect of cauterizing whatever silly, abstract, romantic ideas I still had about war. My job was simply to report on casualties, enemy as well as our own; casualties due to hostile action and those due to nonhostile causes-the accidents that inevitably occur where there are large numbers of young men armed with lethal weapons or at the controls of complicated machinery. Artillery shells sometimes fell on friendly troops, tanks ran over people, marines shot other marines by mistake.
It was not the simple task it seemed. The military has elaborate procedures for everything, and keeping record of the dead and wounded is no exception. The reports were written on mimeographed forms, one for KIAs, one for WIAs-and for those of you who arent’ familiar, KIA stands for killed in action and WIA stands for wounded in action, and a third for nonhostile casualties. Each form had spaces for the victim’s name, age, rank, serial number, and unit, and for the date, the description of his injuries, and the circumstances under which they occurred. If he had been killed, the circumstances were almost always described in the same way, and the words could have served as an epitaph for thousands of men: “killed in action while on patrol vicinity of Danang. RVN.”
The KIA reports were long and complicated. Much information was required about the dead: their religion, the name and address of their next of kin, beneficiaries of their servicemen’s life insurance policies, and whether the money was to be paid in a lump sum or in installments. All reports had to be written in that clincial, euphemistic language military prefers to simple English. If, say, a marine been shot through the guts, I could not write “shot through the guts” or even “shot through the stomach”; no, I had to say; “GSW” ( gunshot wound ) “through and through, abdomen.” Shrapnel wounds were called “multiple fragment lacerations,” and the phrase for dismemberment, one of mty very favorite phrases, was “traumatic amputation.” I had to use it a lot when the Viet Cong began to employ high-explosive weapons and booby traps. A device they used frequently was the command-detonated mine, which was set off electrically from ambush. The mines were similar to our Claymore, packed with hundreds of steel pellets and a few pounds of an explosive called C-4. If I recall correctly, the gas-expansion rate of C-4 is 26,000 feet per second. That terrific force, and the hundreds of steel pellets propelled by it, made the explosion of a command-detonated mine equivalent to the simultaneous firing of seventy twelve gauge shotguns loaded with double-O buckshot. Naturally, anyone hit by such a weapon was likely to suffer the “traumatic amputation” of something-an arm, a leg, his head-and many did. After I saw some of the victims, I began to question the accuracy of the phrase. Traumatic amputation, was precise, for losing a limb is definitely traumatic, but operation.seemed to me, suggested a surgical operation. I observed, however, that the human body does not break apart cleanly in an explosion. It tends to shatter into irregular and often unrecognizable pieces, so “traumatic fragmentation” would have been a more accurate term and would have preserved the euphemistic tone the military favored.
The shattering or fragmenting effect of high explosive occasionally caused semantic difficulties in reporting injuries of men who had undergone extreme mutilation. It was a rare phenomenon, but some marines had been so badly manged there seemed to be no words to describe what had happened to them. Sometime that year, Lieutenant Colonel Meyers, one of the regiment’s battalion commanders, stepped on a booby-trapped 155-mm shell. They did not find enough of him to fill a willy-peter bag, a waterproof sack a little larger than a shopping bag. In effect, Colonel Meyers had been disintegrated, but the official report read something like “traumatic amputation, both feet; traumatic amputation, both legs and arms; multiple lacerations to abdomen; through-and-through fragment wounds, head and chest” Then came the redundant notation “killed in action.”
The battalion adjutants phoned in reports of their units’ casualties, and I relayed them to the division combat casualty reporting center. That done, I filed copies of the reports in their respective folders, one labeled CASUALTIES: HOSTILE ACTION and the other CASUALTIES: NON HOSTILE, I believe the two were kept separate because men killed or wounded by enemy fire were automatically awarded Purple Hearts, while those hit by friendly fire were not. That was the onlt real difference. A man killed by friendly fire (another misleading term, because fire is never friendly if it hits you) was just as dead as one killed by the enemy. And there was often an accidental quality even about battle casualties. Stepping on a mine or stumbling over the trip wire of a booby trap is a mishap, really, not unlike walking in front of a car while crossing a busy street.
Once the reports were filed, I brought Colonel Wheeler’s scoreboard up to date. Covered with acetate and divided into vertical and horizontal columns, the board hung behind the executive officer’s desk, in the wood-framed tent where he and the colonel made their headquarters. The vertical columns were headed, from left to right, KIA, WIA, DOW (died of wounds), NONHOST, VC-KlA, VC-WIA, and the horizontal columns were labeled with the numerical designations of the units belonging to, or attached to, the regiment. In the first four vertical columns were written the number of casualties a particular unit had suffered, in the last three the number it had inflicted on the enemy. After an action, I went into the colonel’s quarters, erased the old figures and wrote in the new with a grease pencil. The colonel, an easygoing man in most instances, was adamant about maintaining an accurate scoreboard: high-ranking visitors from Danang and dropped in unannounced to see how the regiment was performing. And the measures of Vietnam were not the distances it had advanced or the number of victories it had won, but the number of soldiers it had killed (the body count) and the proportion between that number and the number of its own dead (the kill ratio) . The scoreboard thus allowed the colonel to keep track of the battalions and companies under his command and, quickly and crisply, to rattle off impressive figures to visiting dignitaries. My unsung task in that statistical war was to do the arithmetic. If I had been an agent of death as a platoon leader, as a staff officer I was death’s bookkeeper.
The driver parked behind the adjutant’s tent and hitched the trailer. It tipped forward, the hitch against the ground and the bodies tumbling over on top of each other. A half-severed arm, with a piece of bone protruding whitely through the flesh, flopped over the side of the trailer, then flopped back in again. Stretcher-bearers came up and carried the young woman to the regimental aid station-this was a civilian that was wounded. The old woman shuffled along behind, spitting blackish-red betel-nut juice into the dust.
I checked to make sure there were four bodies. There appeared to be. It was difficult to tell. Tossed around in the trailer, they had become entangled, one barely distinguishable from another. Three of them were entangled, anyway. The fourth did not have arms below the elbow, and his legs had been shot or blown off completely. The others had been mangled in other places. One had been hit in head, his brains and the white cartilage that had moored them to his skull spilling onto the bottom of the trailer. Another, hit in the midsection, had been turned inside out, the slick, blue and greenish brown mass of his intestines bulging out of him. There was a deep, dark red pool of blood at the low end of the trailer. I turned away from the sight and told the driver to get the bodies out of there.
“Sorry, sir,” he said, starting up his jeep. “I was told to ve the bodies here. I’ve got to get back to the motor pool.”
“Who the hell told you to leave the bodies here?” I said.
The driver shrugged. “Some officer told me, lieutenant. I’ve got to get back to the motor pool.”
“All right, shove off.” I said.
The marine drove away. I went into the tent and told Kazmarack—this was an enlisted man who was one of my assistants—to take the corpses to the cemetery where the enemy dead were buried. Kazmarack called it the body dump, and it was more that than a proper cemetery.
Captain Anderson—that was my boss—said, “Leave the bodies here, Mister Caputo.”
“Sir, they’re going to smell pretty bad in another few hours.”
“The colonel wants the bodies here.”
“What the hell for?”
“He wants the clerks around here to look at them. There isn’t much around here, so I guess he wants them to get used to the sight of blood.”
“You’re kidding, captain.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Well, I don’t think much of that idea, sir. Christ, let’s just bury the poor bastards.”
“Lieutenant, I think what you think doesn’t make much difference. The Old Man wants these people to get used to sight of blood, and that’s what they’re going to do.”
“Well, there’s plenty of blood in there, but I’m not sure they’re going to get used to it. Plenty of other stuff, too, guts and brains.”
“I’ll tell you when to get rid of the bodies.”
So the corpses were left lying in the sun. As the colonel ordered, the headquarters troops were marched past the trailer to look at the dead Viet Cong. They filed by like visitors passing before an exhibit in a museum. The sun burned down, and the bodies began to smell in the heat. The odor, at first faint because the VC had been dead only a short time, was like cooking gas escaping from an oven burner. One by one, the marines walked up to the trailer looked into it, made some desperate jokes when they what was inside or said nothing at all, then walked back to their desks and typewriters. The sun burned hotter in empty sky; the smell grew stronger. It blew into the adjutant’s tent on a puff of breeze, the cooking-gas odor a stench that reminded me of hydrogen sulfide used in high-school chemistry classes. Well, that was all the corpses were, masses of chemicals and decaying matter. Looking outside, I was pleased to see that the show was almost over; the marines at the end of the line were filing past the trailer. Because of the smell, they kept their distance. The smell was not unbearable; several hours would pass before it got that bad. It was, however, strong enough to prt these men at the end of the line from lingering, as those at the front of the line had done, thus depriving them of the chance to look at the corpses long enough to become accustomed to the sight of blood. They just gave the bodies a brief glance, then moved quickly from the trailer and the growing stench.
The procession ended. Kazmarack and another clerk, Corporal Stasek, hitched up the trailer and drove off towards Danang. Anderson left for a staff conference that had been called in preparation for General Thompson’s visit. Ten minutes later, he came lumbering back into the tent, his red, jowly face pouring sweat.
“Mister Caputo, we’ve got to get those bodies back here.”
I looked at him incredulously.
“The Old Man wants the bodies back show them to the general when he briefs him,” Anderson said.
“Stasek and Kazmarack are gone, sir,” I said. They’re probably in Danang by now."
“I know they’re gone. I want you to find somebody who can handle a jeep. Tell him to catch up with those two and have them bring those bodies back here ASAP.
" “Captain, I don’t really believe we’re doing this.”
“Just get moving.” He turned and walked off with quick, jerky little steps.
I managed to find a driver who knew the route and told him what to do. I returned to the tent, where, in the spirit of the madness in which I was taking part, I made up a new title for myself. I wrote it on a piece of cardboard and tacked the cardboard to my desk, and it read:
2LT. P.J. CAPUTO. OFFICER IN CHARGE OF THE DEAD.
The general arrived by helicopter—and what other way is there for a general?—in midafternoon. I had a glimpse of him as he walked into the headquarters next door, the colonel on one side of him, Lieutenant Colonel Brooks on other, and a couple of nervous-looking aides trailing. He looked about the same height and build as Wheeler, but all resemblance ended there. Wheeler was wearing the drab battle dress of a field commander, Thompson a uniform that befitted a Lieutenant General in the Army of the United States. Three white stars shone on his green cap. Three more adorned each starched collar. A blue and white Combat Infantry Badge was pinned to his chest. Various patches added bits of color to his shoulder sleeves, and a name tag above his left pocket proclaimed his identity: THOMPSON.
The briefing started. Stasek and Kazmarack returned a quarter of an hour later, both looking overwrought. “Lieutenant, sir,” Stasek said, “what the hell’s going on? We had those VC buried . . .”
I told them what was going on and asked where the bodies were.
“Outside, sir.” Stasek started to laugh in the slightly hysterical way a man does when what he really wants to do is scream. “Christ, we had to pull them out of where we buried them. One of the VC’s guts spilled right out of him. Then I pulled at another one and his leg started to come off. They were just coming apart.”
“Okay, that’s enough,” I said. “Sorry about all this. Just stand by for now, but you’ll have to bring the bodies when; the briefing’s over.”
“Yes, sir. If that general’s going to look at those bodies, we’d better hose the trailer down.”
“Okay, hose it down then,” I said, walking out of the tent with him and Kazmarack. The trailer was parked in the same place as before.
The briefing was going on next door. I could not hear every word, just disjointed phrases: “and we’re planning further operations in the Le-My area . . . that’s here, general …” Through the screening, I saw Thompson sitting, legs crossed. He nodded while the briefing officer talked and waved a pointer at the big wall map in the colonel’s tent. Wheeler was standing by his desk, a collection of captured enemy weapons hanging on a partition that divided his half of the tent from Brooks’s. “One of our patrols engaged force in that vicinity this morning, sir . . . activity has increased . . .” Twenty yards away, Kazmarack and another marine had connected a hose to a water carrier and were filling the trailer. The general, uncrossing his legs, said something I could not quite hear. “Yes, sir,” replied the briefing officer. With the trailer filled, Kazmarack and the other marine disconnected the hose. They lifted the hitch from the ground, pushed the trailer back a couple of feet, pulled it forward, pushed it back, pulled it forward again, sluicing it out. There was a murmuring inside the colonel’s tent. “I think I can answer that one for you, sir,” someone said. Outside, Corporal Stasek said, “Okay, Kaz, tip it back a little.” Kazmarack and the marine who was helping him tipped the trailer backward. They held it like that, each with both arms under the hitch, their arms straining from the weight, while Stasek squatted, reached underneath the trailer, and unscrewed the plug in the bottom. He pulled his hand back quickly when the water poured out in a heavy red stream speckled with bits of white stuff. “Jesus Christ,” Stasek said, “look at it all.”
When the briefing ended, General Thompson, Colonel Wheeler, and the other officers came out of the tent. I saluted smartly as they walked past me toward my freshly washed corpses. I thought of them as mine; they were the dead and I was the officer in charge of the dead. A rivulet blood-colored water flowed from under the trailer and soaked into the dust. The brass stepped over it carefully, to avoid ruining the shine on their boots. Someone pointed out the bodies and told the general that they were the VC who had been killed in the morning. He glanced at them, said something to the colonel, then continued on to the landing zone, where his helicopter waited.
Source: Writing Vietnam
5. Excerpt from Richard Brookhiser’s memoir
This excerpt is taken from Right Time, Right Place: Coming of Age with William F. Buckley Jr. and the Conservative Movement, published in 2009.
I met Bill Buckley by writing for him.
I grew up in Irondequoit, New York, a suburb of Rochester, a midsize upstate city, with my parents and my older brother, Bob. We lived in a ranch house on a half-acre lot in a tract of other post-war houses that had been developed in a former peach orchard. Dad worked, Mom was the mother, Bob and I were smarkt—that was the family division of labor.
In the fall of 1969 I was a freshman in a local public high school (I didn’t know anybody who went to private ones); my brother was a junior at Yale. Every weekend of the school year since he had gone away to college I wrote him, on a small black metal typewriter that had belonged to Mom, a letter rehearsing the events of the week—basketball games, school plays, little triumphs, tiny disasters, bulletins of adolescence dramatized and ironized. I wrote to inform him. … But mostly I wrote to portray myself, to Bob, and to my parents, to whom I read the letters aloud (like an out-of-town preview) before mailing them off.
One week the news barged into this home theater. Opponents of the Vietnam War had called for a nationwide moratorium, or day of protests, on October 15. The moratorium looked to be a big thing on college campuses, where teach-ins and boycotts of classes were planned. Some kids in my high school decided to join in. I thought they were wrong; I also thought there was something phony about the exercise, simultaneously preening and copycat. The moratorium’s supporters at Irondequoit High presented themselves as dissidents, but they were tagging along with a national movement, mimicking their elders.
I decided to put counterposters, antiprotest protests, on the school walls. I imagined myself as a latter-day Martin Luther, taping rather than hammering up criticisms of orthodoxy for all to see. I generated my posters by typing them out, over and over, on the black typewriter, using carbon paper to produce four copies at a time (I had only twelve contentious theses, not Luther’s ninety-five). The bottom copy of each batch was pretty fuzzy, and when I put the carbon paper in backward for one batch I got a set of mirror-image duds. After a night’s work I had made thirty-three posters, and I gave them to the world on the fifteenth.
All my efforts … went into that weekend’s letter to my brother. It made for a longer story than usual, and in his next letter home he said he had enjoyed it. Then my father said, Why don’t you send it to National Review?
No one in my family knew anything about journalism. We knew William F. Buckley Jr. from television, and we had been subscribing to his magazine for half a year. Perhaps that would be entrée enough. I took “Dear Bob” off the beginning of my letter, added a conclusion, and sent it away. …
What was the article like? If I got it as an editor now, would I publish it? It had its bitchy moments—I criticized the moratorium supporters for using “such words as ‘leafletting,’” It had its light moments. … I banged away in high dudgeon. When supporters of the moratorium stood on the high school lawn and read a list of soldiers who had died in Vietnam, I took the mangling of a name to be a sign that it was all for show; if they really cared, they would have pronounced the dead man’s name correctly. There was a lot of showing going on, but honest people also make slips of the tongue; having sent my thoughts to National Review, I was not innocent of showing them off myself. Even as a teenager I saw one thing that opponents of the war denied or fudged: Withdrawing from Vietnam would leave it “open to Communist subjugation.”
I know why the assistant managing editor, Miss Buckley, and Mr. Buckley published it. I was a dog walking on its hind legs: Fifteen-year-old speaks! I was also dog bites man. There were plenty of young people even in the late sixties who were conservative, or simply not liberal. When eighteen- to twenty-one-year-olds voted in the 1972 election, as many of them voted for Richard Nixon as for George McGovern. But they were not the young people you saw on television, or in most newspapers and magazines. The archetypal young people of the major media, whether admired or feared, were idealistic liberals, hairly radicals, or copulating druggies: heroes, rebeles, or freaks. Here, said the editors of the National Review, was a kid, a high school freshman no less, who speaks for the unseen. …
My first encounter with Bill Buckley was as fortuitous as a lightning strike. But the material for the fire had been piling up for years.
I first saw him, as many people did, on his TV show, Firing Line. It went on the air in 1966. When my family started watching it, it was (as it remained for most of its thirty-three-year run) an hour of discussion, mostly political, moderated by Buckley.
The world of media and the world of political talk were much smaller then. There was, of course, no Internet, and no talk radio (except for Paul Harvey in the Midwest). There were three TV networks, plus public television, which was making its transition from state college professors giving extension courses to British imports. Commercial television consisted of entertainment, sports, and news, in that order. The boundaries of taste were set by comfortable, mainstream figures. David Brinkley and Johnny Carson were witty; Walter Cronkite was authoritative.
Firing Line seemed to come from a different planet. The show was epitomized by the theme song—the trumpet fanfare from the third movement of the Second Brandenburg Concerto. The perky little instrument that played it was a baroque trumpet, bright and high-voiced, an instrument that had been a museum piece since the days of Bach and Handel. If you were not a classical music buff, the only other time you had heard one was in “Penny Lane.” The theme promised a show that would be quick, sharp, light, serious, and cool.
The set was simple: two chairs, three if there were two guests; little side tables for glasses of water. The spareness highlighted Buckley’s posture and mannerisms. He took the show very seriously—he sat with a clipboard that held the capsule biographies he had written as introductions for his guests and quotations of theirs that he intended to confront them with. The clipboard also supported a stopwatch, so he could keep track of the time. …
Firing Line would be inconceivable now. Jesus would not get an hour on television if He came back. Years later I would meet an old left-wing man who asked me to thank Mr. Buckley for giving the Left its only forum in the late sixties. He meant, the only opportunity for leftists to state their views at length (they were covered, if not quoted, by the news). Buckley gave them this opportunity only to try to beat them up. But he did give them the opportunity (honor comes only from victory over worthy opponents). One of my favorite clips of Firing Line shows Bill and a young, slim Allen Ginsberg, who is holding something on his lap. The poet asks if can sing a song in praise of Lord Krishna. Bill says generously, “Go right ahead.” Ginsberg’s object turns out to be a harmonium, which he plays while singing, badly but passionately, a long chant. When he finishes, Bill says, “That’s the most unhurried Krishna I’ve ever heard.” He joked, but he let Ginsberg sing it first.
But what most struck me about Buckley on Firing Line as a new viewer was the beating up. In this sense he was the ancestor, legitimate if distant, of 24/7 contention, all yelling all the time. I remember an encounter with the radical lawyer William Kunstler. Kunstler’s hair looked like stuffing from a sofa. His manner was both familiar and overbearing, a combination of haimish and obnoxious. Buckley gripped him like a terrier and would not let him go. He maintained the formalities, giving each guest his Mr. or her Mrs., to a degree that was unusual in first-name/nickname America. But he would not give their beliefs a respite, if they were enemies of America, my family, or me.
Source: Brookhiser, Right Time, Right Place, pp. 5-8; and the Wall Street Journal.
6. The “Streaking” Craze of 1974
In 1974, there was a nationwide spike in incidents of “streaking” in public places, particularly on college campuses. Rice was no exception. Read the following newspaper articles and opinion pieces about the streaking craze:
- Two 1974 articles in the Rice Thresher
- An article from the same month in the New York Times
- An opinion column in the Washington Post by George Will
In 1974, the streaking craze even inspired a hit song by Ray Stevens with its own terrible music video, which you’re welcome to watch if you can bare it (sorry, couldn’t help myself).
7. Milliken v. Bradley (1974)
What follows is the summary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Milliken v. Bradley.
No. 73-434 Argued: February 27, 1974 — Decided: July 25, 1974
Respondents brought this class action, alleging that the Detroit public school system is racially segregated as a result of the official policies and actions of petitioner state and city officials, and seeking implementation of a plan to eliminate the segregation and establish a unitary nonracial school system. The District Court, after concluding that various acts by the petitioner Detroit Board of Education had created and perpetuated school segregation in Detroit, and that the acts of the Board, as a subordinate entity of the State, were attributable to the State, ordered the Board to submit Detroit-only desegregation plans. The court also ordered the state officials to submit desegregation plans encompassing the three-county metropolitan area, despite the fact that the 85 outlying school districts in these three counties were not parties to the action and there was no claim that they had committed constitutional violations. Subsequently, outlying school districts were allowed to intervene, but were not permitted to assert any claim or defense on issues previously adjudicated or to reopen any issue previously decided, but were allowed merely to advise the court as to the propriety of a metropolitan plan and to submit any objections, modifications, or alternatives to any such plan. Thereafter, the District Court ruled that it was proper to consider metropolitan plans, that Detroit-only plans submitted by the Board and respondents were inadequate to accomplish desegregation, and that, therefore, it would seek a solution beyond the limits of the Detroit school District, and concluded that “[s]chool district lines are simply matters of political convenience, and may not be used to deny constitutional rights.” Without having evidence that the suburban school districts had committed acts of de jure segregation, the court appointed a panel to submit a plan for the [p718] Detroit schools that would encompass an entire designated desegregation area consisting of 53 of the 85 suburban school districts plus Detroit, and ordered the Detroit Board to acquire at least 295 school buses to provide transportation under an interim plan to be developed for the 1972-1973 school year. The Court of Appeals, affirming in part, held that the record supported the District Court’s finding as to the constitutional violations committed by the Detroit Board and the state officials; that, therefore, the District Court was authorized and required to take effective measures to desegregate the Detroit school system; and that a metropolitan area plan embracing the 53 outlying districts was the only feasible solution and was within the District Court’s equity powers. But the court remanded so that all suburban school districts that might be affected by a metropolitan remedy could be made parties and have an opportunity to be heard as to the scope and implementation of such a remedy, and vacated the order as to the bus acquisitions, subject to its reimposition at an appropriate time.
Held: The relief ordered by the District Court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals was based upon erroneous standards, and was unsupported by record evidence that acts of the outlying districts had any impact on the discrimination found to exist in the Detroit schools. A federal court may not impose a multidistrict, area-wide remedy for single-district de jure school segregation violations where there is no finding that the other included school districts have failed to operate unitary school systems or have committed acts that effected segregation within the other districts, there is no claim or finding that the school district boundary lines were established with the purpose of fostering racial segregation, and there is no meaningful opportunity for the included neighboring school districts to present evidence or be heard on the propriety of a multidistrict remedy or on the question of constitutional violations by those districts. Pp. 737-753.
(a) The District Court erred in using as a standard the declared objective of development of a metropolitan area plan which, upon implementation, would leave “no school, grade or classroom . . . substantially disproportionate to the overall pupil racial composition” of the metropolitan area as a whole. The clear import of Swann v. Board of Education, is that desegregation, in the sense of dismantling a dual school system, does not require any particular racial balance. Pp. 739-741. [p719]**
(b) While boundary lines may be bridged in circumstances where there has been a constitutional violation calling for inter-district relief, school district lines may not be casually ignored or treated as a mere administrative convenience; substantial local control of public education in this country is a deeply rooted tradition. Pp. 741-742.
(c) The inter-district remedy could extensively disrupt and alter the structure of public education in Michigan, since that remedy would require, in effect, consolidation of 54 independent school districts historically administered as separate governmental units into a vast new super school district, and, since – entirely apart from the logistical problems attending large-scale transportation of students – the consolidation would generate other problems in the administration, financing, and operation of this new school system. Pp. 742-743.
(d) From the scope of the inter-district plan itself, absent a complete restructuring of the Michigan school district laws, the District Court would become, first, a de facto “legislative authority” to resolve the complex operational problems involved, and thereafter a “school superintendent” for the entire area, a task which few, if any, judges are qualified to perform, and one which would deprive the people of local control of schools through elected school boards. Pp. 743-744.
(e) Before the boundaries of separate and autonomous school districts may be set aside by consolidating the separate units for remedial purposes or by imposing a cross-district remedy, it must be first shown that there has been a constitutional violation within one district that produces a significant segregative effect in another district; i.e., specifically, it must be shown that racially discriminatory acts of the state or local school districts, or of a single school district have been a substantial cause of inter-district segregation. Pp. 744-745.
(f) With no showing of significant violation by the 53 outlying school districts and no evidence of any inter-district violation or effect, the District Court transcended the original theory of the case as framed by the pleadings, and mandated a metropolitan area remedy the approval of which would impose on the outlying districts, not shown to have committed any constitutional violation, a standard not previously hinted at in any holding of this Court. P. 745.
(g) Assuming, arguendo, that the State was derivatively responsible for Detroit’s segregated school conditions, it does not follow [p720] that an inter-district remedy is constitutionally justified or required, since there has been virtually no showing that either the State or any of the 85 outlying districts engaged in any activity that had a cross-district effect. Pp. 748-749.
(h) An isolated instance of a possible segregative effect as between two of the school districts involved would not justify the broad metropolitan-wide remedy contemplated, particularly since that remedy embraced 52 districts having no responsibility for the arrangement and potentially involved 503,000 pupils in addition to Detroit’s 276,000 pupils. Pp. 749-750.
484 F.2d 215, reversed and remanded.
BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which STEWART, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. STEWART, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 753. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 757. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which DOUGLAS, BRENNAN, and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 762. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which DOUGLAS, BRENNAN, and WHITE, JJ., joined, post, p. 781. [p721]