The following deals with events, conflicts, and people during the years 1960-1968.
DISCLAIMER: This does NOT serve as a replacement for reading Chapter 38.
America sailed into the 60s with JFK at the helm. Alas, no one knew what the stormy seas held.
JFK, the youngest president ever elected, assembled one of the youngest cabinets in history, going out of his way to appoint his baby brother Bobby as attorney general. Bobby reformed the FBI whilst crawling out of his crib. One of JFK’s cornerstones was the ‘New Frontier’ spirit. He quickly created the Peace Corps. at none other than the University of Michigan. Go Blue!
Many feared that Congress would be hostile to many of Jack’s planned reforms. JFK forced the expansion of the House Rules Committee, though it didn’t help much. His administration later tried working out a wage agreement with steel companies under the pretense that they would hide their prices. They didn’t. After a dose of Irish-Catholic anger, the steel companies backed down to JFK.
Kennedy got to work cutting taxes and putting money into private hands to stimulate the economy. One of JFK’s many ideas was to put a man on the moon. Ha, is he Jules Verne?! laughed the nation.
Right after Kennedy entered office, he faced off with the Soviet premier Khrushchev, who threatened to cut off access to Berlin altogether. The Soviets backed down but began to construct the Berlin Wall in 1961. On the other side of Europe, the new Trade Expansion Act of 1962 cut American tariffs by 50% in order to expand trade between countries in the Common Market (the unified Atlantic community). But after France’s veto of Britain’s membership, it went bust. France wanted a Yankee-free Europe.
In Laos, there was a bloody civil war between communists and nationalists. JFK thought about sending in troops, but instead bound a peace in Geneva in 1962. This act by JFK shied away from Dulles’ ‘massive retaliation’ and pushed towards McNamara (Kennedy’s Sect. of Defense)’s ‘flexible response’. Now, depending on how serious a situation was, only certain armed forces would be called in.
Over in Vietnam, things were shitty to say the least. The corrupt Diem government barely had any control. In 1961, JFK sent in US troops to South Vietnam to secure political stability or some other BS. In November of 1963, right before JFK was shot, we helped start a coup against the Diem gov’t. ‘Modernization theory’ strictly held that with the West’s help, underdeveloped countries could grow into great nations. Walt Whitman Rostow was a huge believer in this and served as an adviser to both JFK and LBJ.
In 1961, JFK enacted the Alliance for Progress, which was basically the Marshall Plan for Latin America. This alliance was doomed to fail when Kennedy let the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba go on as planned. In 1962, U-2 spy planes showed that the Soviets had installed nuclear bases on their comrade’s turf. The USSR used these to threaten the US out of Berlin and other places.
JFK stood his ground and instead of air strikes or bombings, he demanded the removal of the weapons, stating that if Cuba attacked, the US would attack the USSR. In October of ’62, he got his wish, though the act would spur a massive military buildup in Moscow. Meanwhile, the Democrats won big time in the mid-terms and the two super powers signed a pact to no longer test nukes in 1963. Soon, a direct communications line would be installed for the two nations to chat it up. JFK’s new policy of detente (a state of armed peace) was rock solid.
Among Jack Kennedy’s campaign promises was the elimination of red-lining in real estate (practice of cutting off white and black areas of a city). In order for many of JFK’s planned medical and educational bills to pass, he would need Southern congressmen’s support. To gain that, he would have to put civil rights on hold.
Back in 1960, Freedom Riders had traveled the country trying to end segregation on buses. Federal marshals were later sent in to protect them. Though the FBI were ordered by RFK to wire-tap MLK’s phone, the relationship between the Kennedys and Kings was awesome.
Martin Luther King Jr., the de facto leader of the civil rights movement, encouraged peaceful protests and marches in Birmingham, AL, the most segregated city in the US. Attack dogs and hoses were sent onto the marchers, whose blood lined the streets of Birmingham. JFK immediately called for new civil rights legislation, which was capitalized by King’s March on Washington in August of 1963.
Lee Harvey Oswald. A name synonymous with evil sons of bitches. He killed JFK on November 22, 1963. LBJ, the new President, retained most of Kennedy’s team. Everyone had loved JFK for his ideals and his spirit. Even though he was a womanizer, which made him even cooler, JFK was remembered for his vigor and charisma.
LBJ fought his way from New Dealin’ congressman to majority leader in the Senate by 1954. He had gone slightly conservative in order to win elections in Texas. In 1964, he helped pass the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, which banned racial discrimination, created Equal Opportunity, and had a special section about anti-gender discrimination as well. After LBJ left gender out of ‘affirmative action’, feminists began to raise the roof. Johnson went on to pass anti-poverty bills and tried to establish his ‘great society’ with New Deal-ish reforms that changed the American way of life.
Johnson’s rock-solid liberal policies were set to face off with Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater’s ultra-conservative principles in the election of 1964. Barry attacked social security, the TVA, civil rights, the nuclear test pact, and LBJ’s ‘great society’. The Democrats responded by painting Goldwater as a cowboy with a trigger finger. Many speculate that if Goldwater had been elected, we would have fought in China instead of Vietnam.
Meanwhile, in August, US naval destroyers were fired upon by the North Vietnamese, though it was found to be done in self-defense. Congress soon passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which destroyed their war-declaring powers and left everything up to LBJ.
LBJ went to work killing poverty by expanding the Office of Economic Opportunity and giving grants to the Appalachian region. The Department of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development was also created. LBJ’s foremost achievements were aid to education, medicare for the seniors, immigration reform, and voting rights. Johnson gave more money to students and created the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 to finally do away with those nationality quotas [see Chapter 31]. Through all this, poverty shrunk and people were feeling good, though their taxes were sky-high to pay for all of it.
In the South, barely any blacks voted. After violent incidents in Mississippi and Selma, Alabama, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act. Now, blacks could vote freely in the South without intimidation. The 24th Amendment had also eliminated the poll tax. Finally, instead of leaving the South, blacks started to migrate back.
Sadly, the new legislation brought about an arrogant sense of black power, similar to the white pride of the KKK. Riots erupted in LA and started new violence against western and northern cities. Malcolm X was inspired by black nationalists in the Nation of Islam and started to spread black separatism. He was gunned down in 1965 by said Nation.
The Black Panthers formed soon after and the leader of SNCC preached black power. More bloody riots occurred in Detroit and Newark. Many whites wanted to violently retaliate. At the core of the black power movement was not civil rights, but economic demands. All around the nation, blacks held office and schools were integrated big time.
Back down in Latin America, the Dominican Republic was being overrun by communists, so troops were sent in. Simultaneously, we bombed the hell out of North Vietnam and more and more troops went over there as well. All the while, there was a large anti-war sentiment.
In 1966, France left NATO and Israel fought fiercely in the Six Day War and took control of Palestine and Jerusalem in 1967. This only elevated the volatility in the Middle East. Back in the US, protests were happening all over the place, draft dodgers went to Canada, and the entirely of the war was left in the hands of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Lyndon got paranoid and ordered the CIA and FBI to investigate key peace promoters to see if they were communists.
With the Viet Cong Tet offensive under way, 200,000 more troops were sent in. As the election of ’68 neared and RFK threw his hat in the ring, things looked bleak for LBJ. To gain popularity back, he scaled back on troops and stopped bombing. Johnson dodged a bullet when Bobby Kennedy was killed by one while campaigning in LA. At the Nat’l Democratic Convention in Chicago, a huge riot took place while good ol’ Dick Nixon won the GOP’s nomination and ultimately, the Presidency. Former Gov. George Wallace ran on third party ticket full of segregation and militarization and got loads of votes.
Lyndon B. Johnson had done lots of good during his time in the Oval Office. But in the end, the rising inflation and taxes being sucked into the war machines killed any chances of nostalgic redemption.
People, mostly kids, in the 60s were fed up with authority. Most stopped going to churches and started enjoying fornication and grass. “Trust no one over 30” was the new mantra and it was finally groovy to be gay. The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) stood at the forefront of the antipoverty and antiwar movement. Finally people started caring about the planet and stepped away from materialism.
The three P’s were the cause for hippies- the youthful population, all the protests, and prosperity. In the 1970s, the war would end, the civil rights movement whittled away, and brass, in the form of money, replaced grass.