(The Teach-Ins - 1965 - a decided lack of shrillness)
May 15, 1965 started the first large scale Teach-In on the Vietnam War. Basically it was a debate with pro and con sides arguing various points on our foreign policy and what was our purpose in Southeast Asia. The debate originated in Washington D.C. with a group of 3,000 students and professors and the proceedings were broadcast via closed circuit to over 100 college campuses throughout the U.S. McGeorge Bundy was scheduled to represent the Johnson Administration, but canceled at the last minute citing "official duties". Professor Ernest Nagel of Columbia University presented premise for the debates.
Prof. Ernest Nagel (Columbia University): “This meeting has come into being because of widespread doubts among many academic communities as well as elsewhere concerning the wisdom of current United States policy in Vietnam. It needs to be emphasized however, that the meeting has been sponsored by University teachers throughout the country, and organized by the Inter-University Committee For A Public Hearing on Vietnam, on the basis of two assumptions: The first is that, whether or not those doubts are well founded there has been insufficient responsible debate in public of the grave issues raised by our actions in Southeast Asia. The second assumption is, since a thorough airing of these issues by competent students is a condition for an enlightened public opinion on them, in a liberal democracy such as ours in which governmental policies require the ascent of its citizens, students who possess knowledge pertinent to those issues have a special duty to discuss them openly and critically. In short, the primary aim of this meeting, an aim that surely merits the strong endorsement of all who are committed to the ideals of liberal democracy, is to contribute to public enlightenment through responsible discussion of a serious problem confronting all of us.”
History has been rewritten of late to portray the Antiwar movement of the 60s as violence based, that it was all about avoiding the draft and turning college campuses into battlegrounds. That is completely false. There were those elements, to be sure. Every movement, however noble, is going to have its fair share of malcontents whose only purpose is to stir up shit and destroy in order to derail the original message.
Objection to the War in Vietnam was legitimate, and by 1965 it was growing.