Newsalgia Reference Room with Sen. George McGovern on Face The Nation, discussing the My Lai massacre and the state of dissent and the so-called Silent Majority in America. From November 30, 1969.
December 14, 2011

Sen. George McGovern - openly worried about the newly adopted "virtue of silence"in the Administration.

For those of you who remember, Sen. George McGovern was one of the most outspoken critics of the Vietnam War and what had become our failed Foreign Policy in Southeast Asia.

With the Nixon Administration in place, and dissent and opposition to the war increasing on a daily basis, along with the disclosure of the My Lai Massacre which had taken place almost two years earlier, pressure on the White House to put an end to the long national nightmare was at its highest ever.

Here is a panel interview from CBS News' Face The Nation on November 30, 1969 where, among other questions, McGovern is asked about the "silent majority" as characterized by Richard Nixon.

Sen. George McGovern: “Frankly, in our kind of a free society, I worry about this new emphasis on the part of the Administration on the virtues of silence. There has never been a time that I know of in the history of this country when the highest officials in our government have made such a virtue of those people who remain silent. Now perhaps we ought to be doing more talking, more soul searching, more questioning about American policy. I think if the recent atrocities indicate anything it’s that we’ve had too much silence. Here is a terrible crime, if it’s true, that was committed almost two years ago that we’re only now learning about. Where were those who knew about this incident a year and a half ago? Where was the so-called Silent Majority in the face of the awful reports we’ve had of the loss of civilian life in Vietnam that have been coming in to us for many-many years? So it does seem to me that great emphasis on silence, the effort on the part of high administration officials to intimidate outspoken members of the Press, candid television commentators, the effort to isolate those who are involved in the protest against Vietnam, all of those things have had perhaps something to do with the slowing down of real debate over this policy.”

The MyLai incident would soon take center stage. And by the Spring of 1970 a whole new and deadly wave of protest would erupt over the country. And McGovern would make his bid for the Presidency in 1972.

Fascinating batch of years, to be sure.

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