Modern history

Challenges to the Liberal Center

Even at its peak in the 1960s, liberalism faced major challenges from both the left and the right. A generation of young activists, mainly in colleges and universities, became impatient with what they saw as the slow pace of social progress and were increasingly disturbed by the escalation of the Vietnam War. At the same time, the right contended that liberals had instituted reforms that diminished individual initiative and benefited racial minorities at the expense of the white middle class. They disparaged liberals for not winning the Vietnam War and depicted the left as unpatriotic and out of step with mainstream American values. By 1969 liberalism and the left were in retreat, and Richard M. Nixon, a political conservative, had captured the White House.

Movements on the Left

The civil rights movement had inspired many young people to activism. Combining ideals of freedom, equality, and community with direct-action protest, civil rights activists offered a model for those seeking to address a variety of problems, including the Cold War threat of nuclear devastation, the loss of individual autonomy in a corporate society, racism, poverty, sexism, and the poisoning of the environment. The formation of SNCC in 1960 illuminated the possibilities for personal and social transformation and offered a movement culture founded on democracy.

Tom Hayden helped apply the ideals of SNCC to predominantly white college campuses. After spending the summer of 1961 registering voters in Mississippi and Georgia, the University of Michigan graduate student returned to campus eager to recruit like-minded students who questioned America’s commitment to democracy. “Beyond lunch counter demonstrations,” Hayden wrote, “there are more serious evils which must be ripped out by any means: exploitation, socially destructive capital, evil political and legal structure, and myopic liberalism which is anti-revolutionary.”

Hayden became an influential leader of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which advocated the formation of a “New Left.” They considered the “Old Left,” which revolved around the Communist Party, as autocratic and no longer relevant. In its port Huron Statement (1962), SDS condemned mainstream liberal politics, Cold War foreign policy, racism, and research-oriented universities that cared little for their undergraduates. It called for the adoption of “participatory democracy,” which would return power to the people. SDS argued that the age of the military-industrial complex, with its mega-universities and giant corporations, had created a new educated class of alienated white-collar workers and college students perfectly suited to lead the revolution.

The New Left never consisted of one central organization such as SDS; after all, many protesters challenged the very idea of centralized authority. In fact, SDS did not initiate the New Left’s most dramatic, early protest. In 1964 the University of California at Berkeley banned political activities just outside the main campus entrance in response to CORE protests against racial bias in local hiring. When CORE defied the prohibition, campus police arrested its leader, prompting a massive student uprising. The university’s prohibition also spurred students to form the Free Speech Movement (FSM), which held rallies in front of the administration building, culminating in a nonviolent, civil rights—style sit-in to assert their right to participate in such activities. When California governor Edmund “Pat” Brown dispatched a large force of state and county police to evict the demonstrators, students and faculty joined together in protest and forced the university administration to yield to FSM’s demands for amnesty and reform. By the end of the decade, hundreds of demonstrations had erupted on campuses throughout the nation, culminating in 1968 in a bloody confrontation at Columbia University between students and New York City police. Unlike protests in the South aimed at reactionary white supremacists, campus revolts targeted liberals, dismissing them as obstacles to genuine social change.

The Vietnam War accelerated student radicalism, and college campuses provided a strategic setting for antiwar activities. Like most Americans in the mid-1960s, undergraduates had only a dim awareness of U.S. activity in Vietnam. Yet all college men were eligible for the draft once they graduated and lost their student deferment. As more troops were sent to Vietnam, student concern intensified.

Protests escalated in 1966 as President Johnson authorized an additional 250,000- troop buildup in Vietnam. This mobilization required higher draft calls, which began to affect more college men. With induction into the military a looming possibility, student protesters engaged in a variety of activities. Some burned draft cards; disrupted attempts by outside firms, such as the CIA and Dow Chemical Company (which made napalm), to recruit on campus; or campaigned against the presence on campus of Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), which prepared future military leaders. Others resisted the draft by fleeing to Canada, and still others engaged in various forms of civil disobedience.

Draft Card In 1963 Steven F. Lawson reached the age of eighteen and registered with his draft board, but as a college undergraduate he received a student deferment (II-S). With draft calls climbing due to the escalation of the Vietnam War, Lawson like many others was reclassified to I-A status—"available for military service." When a draft lottery was introduced in 1969, he drew a high number and was not drafted. Courtesy of Steven F. Lawson

Most college students, however, were not activists—between 1965 and 1968, only 20 percent of college students attended demonstrations. Nevertheless, the activist minority received wide media attention and helped raise awareness about the difficulty of waging the Vietnam War abroad and maintaining domestic tranquillity at home.

By the end of 1967, as the number of troops in Vietnam approached half a million, protests increased. Antiwar sentiment had spread to faculty, artists, writers, business people, and elected officials. Earlier that year in April, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a powerful antiwar address at Riverside Church in New York City. “The world now demands,” King declared, “. . . that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people.” In 1968 SDS split into factions, with the most prominent of them, the Weathermen, going underground and adopting violent tactics.

The New Left’s challenge to liberal politics attracted many students, and the counterculture’s rejection of conventional middle-class values of work, sexual restraint, and faith in reason captivated even more. Cultural rebels emphasized living in the present, immediate gratification, authenticity of feelings, and reaching a higher consciousness through mind-altering drugs like marijuana and LSD. These youth rebels, popularly called “hippies,” mocked their elders in the slogan “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.” Despite differences in approach, both the New Left and the counterculture expressed concerns about modern technology, bureaucratization, and the possibility of nuclear annihilation and sought new means of creating political, social, and personal liberation.

Rock ’n’ roll became the soundtrack of the counterculture. In 1964 Bob Dylan’s song “The Times They Are A-Changin’ ” became an anthem for youth rebellion, just as his “Blowin’ in the Wind” did for the civil rights movement. In 1964 the Beatles, a British quartet influenced by 1950s black and white rock ’n’ rollers, came to the United States and revolutionized popular music. Originally singing tuneful compositions of teenage love and angst, the Beatles embraced the counterculture and began writing songs about alienation and politics, flavoring them with the drug-inspired sounds of psychedelic music. The Beatles launched a “British invasion,” which also brought the Rolling Stones, who offered a harder-edged and raunchier sound than did the Beatles. Although most of the songs that reached the top ten on the record charts did not undermine traditional values, the music of groups like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and the Doors spread counterculture messages of youth rebellion. At the same time, young black and white rebels embraced “soul music,” black dance music popularized through the African American-owned Motown Records in Detroit and the white-owned Stax Records in Memphis.

The counterculture viewed the elimination of sexual restrictions as essential for transforming personal and social behavior. The 1960s generation did not invent sexual freedom, but it did a great deal to shatter time-honored moral codes of monogamy, fidelity, and moderation. Promiscuity—casual sex, group sex, extramarital affairs, public nudity—and open-throated vulgarity tested public tolerance. Yet within limits, the popular culture reflected these changes. The Broadway production of the musical Hair showed frontal nudity, the movie industry adopted ratings of “X” and “R” that made films with nudity and profane language available to a wider audience, and new television comedy shows featured sketches including risqué content and double entendres. With a nod from the Warren Court’s easing definitions of pornography, counterculture writers assaulted the boundaries of “good taste.”

With sexual conduct in flux, society had difficulty maintaining the double standard of behavior that privileged men over women. The counterculture gave many women a chance to pursue and enjoy sexual pleasure that had long been denied to them. The availability of birth control pills for women, introduced in 1960, made much of this sexual freedom possible. Although sexual liberation still carried more risks for women than for men, increased openness in discussing sexuality allowed many women to gain greater control over their bodies and their relationships.

Women’s Liberation

Struggles in the 1960s for racial equality, peace, economic justice, and cultural and sexual freedom helped revive the fight for women’s emancipation. Despite passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, which gave women the right to vote (see chapter 19), women did not have equal access to employment and education or control over reproduction. Nor did they have sufficient political power to remove the remaining obstacles to full equality. By 1960 nearly 40 percent of all women held jobs—representing one-third of the labor force—and women made up 35 percent of college enrollments. Subsequently, the social movements of the 1960s—civil rights, the New Left, and the counterculture—included large numbers of women and provided them with experience, connections, principles, and grievances that would lead women to create their own movement for liberation.

The federal government played a significant role in addressing gender discrimination. In 1961 President Kennedy appointed the Commission on the Status of Women. The commission’s report, American Women, issued in 1963, reaffirmed the primary role of women in raising the family but cataloged the inequities women faced in the workplace. In 1963 Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, which required employers to give men and women equal pay for equal work. The following year, the 1964 Civil Rights Act opened up further opportunities when it prohibited sexual bias in employment and created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, women remained divided over the need for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), first proposed in 1923 by suffragist Alice Paul. The Commission on the Status of Women refused to endorse it largely because labor union women believed that adopting the ERA would eliminate laws that specifically protected women workers with respect to hours, wages, and safety conditions.

In 1963 Betty Friedan published a landmark work in the history of the women’s rights movement, The Feminine Mystique, a book that questioned society’s prescribed gender roles. In The Feminine Mystique, she described the isolation and alienation experienced by her female friends and associates, raising the consciousness of many women, particularly college graduates and professionals. However, not all women saw themselves reflected in Friedan’s book. Many working-class women from African American and other minority families had not had the opportunity to attend college and had to work to help support their families, and younger women had not yet experienced the burdens of domestic isolation.

Nevertheless, in October 1966, Betty Friedan and like-minded women formed the National Organization for Women (NOW). With Friedan as president, NOW dedicated itself to moving society toward “true equality for all women in America, and toward a fully equal partnership of the sexes.” NOW also called on the EEOC to enforce women’s employment rights more vigorously and favored passage of the ERA, maternity leave rights in employment, the establishment of child care centers, and reproductive rights. Although NOW advocated job training programs and assistance for impoverished women, it attracted a mainly middle-class white membership. Some blacks were among its charter members, but most African American women chose to concentrate on first eliminating racial barriers that affected black women and men alike. Some union women also continued to oppose the ERA, and antiabortion advocates wanted to steer clear of NOW’s support for reproductive rights. Despite these concerns, between 1966 and 1971 NOW’s membership increased dramatically from 1,000 to 15,000.

Supporters of women’s equality drew lessons from the black freedom struggle. SNCC empowered women staff through community-organizing projects, but even within the civil rights movement women had not always been treated equally, often being assigned clerical duties. Women came up against even greater discrimination in the antiwar movement. Men held a higher status in such groups because women were not eligible for the draft. Ironically, men’s claims of moral advantage justified many of them in seeking sexual favors. “Girls say yes to guys who say no,” quipped draft-resisting men who sought to put women in their traditional sexual place.

As a result of these experiences, radical women formed their own, mainly local organizations. They created “consciousness-raising” groups that allowed them to share their experiences of oppression in the household, the workplace, the university, and movement organizations. These women’s liberationists went beyond NOW’s emphasis on legal equality and attacked male domination, or patriarchy, as the primary source of women’s subordination. They criticized the nuclear family and cultural values that glorified women as the object of male sexual desires, and they protested creatively against discrimination. In 1968 radical feminists picketed the popular Miss America contest in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the epitome of male conceptions of female beauty, and set up a “Freedom Trash Can” into which they threw undergarments and cosmetics. Radical groups such as the Redstockings condemned all men as oppressors and formed separate female collectives to affirm their identities as women.

In 1973 feminists won a major battle in the Supreme Court over a woman’s right to control reproduction. In Roe v. Wade, the high court ruled that states could not prevent a woman from obtaining an abortion in the first three months of pregnancy but could impose some limits in the next two trimesters. In furthering the constitutional right of privacy for women, the justices classified abortion as a private medical issue between a patient and her doctor. This decision marked a victory for a woman’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy, but it also stirred up a fierce reaction from women and men who considered abortion to be the murder of an unborn child. Although the basic principle of the right to an abortion has remained intact, legal and cultural battles have raged to the present day.

Power to the People

In addition to stimulating feminist consciousness, the civil rights movement emboldened other oppressed groups to emancipate themselves. African Americans led the way in influencing the liberationist struggles of Latinos, Indians, and gay men and women.

Malcolm X shaped the direction that many African Americans would take in seeking independence and power. Born Malcolm Little, he had engaged in a life of crime, which landed him in prison. Inside jail, he converted to the Nation of Islam, a religious sect based partly on Muslim teachings and partly on the belief that white people were devils (not a doctrine associated with orthodox Islam). After his release from jail, Malcolm rejected his “slave name” and substituted the letter X to symbolize his unknown African forebears. A charismatic leader, Minister Malcolm helped convert thousands of disciples in black ghettos by denouncing whites and encouraging blacks to embrace their African cultural heritage and beauty as a people. Favoring self-defense over nonviolence, he criticized civil rights leaders for failing to protect their women, their children, and themselves. After 1963, Malcolm X broke away from the Nation of Islam, visited the Middle East and Africa and accepted the teachings of traditional Islam, moderated his rhetoric against all whites as devils, but remained committed to black self-determination. He had already influenced the growing number of disillusioned young black activists when, in 1965, members of the Nation of Islam murdered him, apparently in revenge for challenging the organization.

Black militants, echoing Malcolm X’s ideas, further challenged the liberal consensus on race. They renounced King’s and Rustin’s ideas, rejecting their principles of integration and nonviolence in favor of black power and self-defense. Instead of welcoming whites within their organizations, black radicals believed that African Americans had to assert their independence from white America. In 1966 SNCC decided to expel whites and create an all-black organization. That same year, Stokely Carmichael, SNCC’s chairman, proclaimed the rallying cry of “black power” as the central goal of the freedom struggle, linking the cause of African American freedom to revolutionary conflicts in Cuba, Africa, and Vietnam.

Black power seemed menacing to most whites. Its emergence in the midst of riots in black ghettos, which erupted across the nation starting in the mid-1960s, underscored the concern. Few white Americans understood the horrific conditions that led to riots in Harlem and Rochester, New York, in 1964; in Los Angeles in 1965; and in Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Newark, and Tampa in the following two years. Black northerners still faced problems of high unemployment, dilapidated housing, and police mistreatment, which civil rights legislation had done nothing to correct. While whites perceived the ghetto uprisings solely as an exercise in criminal behavior, many blacks viewed the violence as an expression of political discontent—as rebellions, not riots. The Kerner Commission, appointed by President Johnson to assess urban disorders and chaired by Governor Otto Kerner of Illinois, concluded in 1968 that white racism remained at the heart of the problem: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.”

New groups emerged to take up the cause of black power. In 1966 Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, two black college students in Oakland, California, formed the Black Panther Party. Like Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, the Panthers linked their cause to revolutionary movements around the world. Dressed in black leather, sporting black berets, and carrying guns, the Panthers appealed mainly to black men. They did not, however, rely on armed confrontation and bravado alone. The Panthers established day care centers and health facilities, which gained the admiration of many in their communities. Much of this good work was overshadowed by violent confrontations with the police, which led to the deaths of Panthers in shootouts and the imprisonment of key party officials. By the early 1970s, local and federal government crackdowns on the Black Panthers had destabilized the organization and reduced its influence.

Black militants were not the only African Americans to clash with the government. After 1965, King increasingly criticized the Johnson administration for waging war in Vietnam and failing to fight the War on Poverty more vigorously at home. In 1968 he prepared to mount a massive Poor People’s March on Washington when he was shot and killed by James Earl Ray in Memphis, where he was supporting demonstrations for striking sanitation workers. The death of King furthered black disillusionment. In the wake of his murder, riots again erupted in hundreds of cities throughout the country. Little noticed amid the fiery turbulence, President Johnson signed into law the 1968 Fair Housing Act, the final piece of civil rights legislation of his term.

The African American freedom movement inspired Latinos struggling for equality and advancement. During the 1960s, the size of the Spanish-speaking population in the United States tripled from three million to nine million. Hispanic Americans were a diverse group who hailed from many countries and backgrounds. In the 1950s, Cesar Chavez had emerged as the leader of oppressed Mexican farmworkers in California. In seeking the right to organize a union and gain higher wages and better working conditions, Chavez shared King’s nonviolent principles. In 1962 Chavez formed the National Farm Workers Association, and in 1965 the union called a strike against California grape growers, one that attracted national support and lasted five years before reaching a successful settlement.

Younger Mexican Americans, especially those in cities such as Los Angeles and other western barrios (ghettos), supported Chavez’s economic goals but challenged older political leaders who sought cultural assimilation. Borrowing from the Black Panthers, Mexican Americans formed the Brown Berets, a self-defense organization. As a sign of their increasing militancy and independence, in 1969 some 1,500 activists gathered in Denver and declared themselves Chicanos, a term that expressed their cultural pride and identity, instead of Mexican Americans. Chicanos created a new political party, La Raza Unida (The United Race), to promote their interests, and the party and its allies sponsored demonstrations to fight for jobs, bilingual education, and the creation of Chicano studies programs in colleges. Chicano and other Spanish-language communities also took advantage of the protections of the Voting Rights Act, which, in 1975, was amended to include sections of the country—from New York to California to Florida and Texas—where Hispanic literacy in English and voter registration were low.

American Indians also joined the upsurge of activism and ethnic nationalism. By 1970 some 800,000 people identified themselves as American Indians, many ofwhom lived in poverty on reservations. They suffered from inadequate housing, high alcoholism rates, low life expectancy, staggering unemployment, and lack of education. Conscious of their heritage before the arrival of white people, determined to halt their continued deterioration, and seeking to assert “red” pride, they established the American indian Movement (AiM) in 1968. The following year, AIM protesters occupied the abandoned prison island of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay, where they remained until 1971. In 1972 AIM occupied the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., where protesters presented twenty demands, ranging from reparations for treaty violations to abolition of the bureau. AIM demonstrators also seized the village of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, the scene of the 1890 massacre of the Sioux residents by the U.S. army (see chapter 15), to dramatize the impoverished living conditions on the reservation. They held on for more than seventy days with eleven hostages until a shootout with the FBI ended the confrontation, killing one protester and wounding another.

Native American Power Drawing on the civil rights movement, this group of Native Americans occupied the former prison at Alcatraz Island on November 25, 1969.

Among their demands, they offered to buy the island for $24 in beads and cloth—a reference to the purchase of Manhattan Island in 1626—and turn it into an Indian educational and cultural center. AP Photo

The results of the red power movement proved mixed. Demonstrations focused media attention on the plight of American Indians but did little to halt their downward spiral. Nevertheless, courts became more sensitive to Indian claims and protected mineral and fishing rights on reservations. Still, in the early 1970s the average annual income of American Indian families hovered around $1,500.

Unlike African Americans, Chicanos, and American Indians, homosexuals were not distinguished by the color of their skin. Estimated at 10 percent of the population, gays and lesbians remained invisible to the rest of society. Homosexuals were a target of repression during the Cold War, and the government treated them harshly and considered their sexual identity a threat to the American way of life. In the 1950s, gay men and women created their own political and cultural organizations and frequented bars and taverns outside mainstream commercial culture, but most lesbians and gay men like Bayard Rustin hid their identities. It was not until 1969 that they took a giant step toward asserting their collective grievances in a very visible fashion. Police regularly cracked down on the Stonewall Tavern in New York City’s Greenwich Village, but gay patrons battled back on June 27 in a riot that the Village Voice called “a kind of liberation, as the gay brigade emerged from the bars, back rooms, and bedrooms of the Village and became street people.” In the manner of black power and the New Left, homosexuals organized the Gay Liberation Front, voiced pride in being gay, and demanded equality of opportunity regardless of sexual orientation.

As with other oppressed groups, gays achieved victories slowly and unevenly. In the decades following the 1960s, homosexuals faced discrimination in employment, could not marry or receive domestic benefits, and were subject to violence for public displays of affection.

The Revival of Conservatism

These diverse social movements did a great deal to change the political and cultural landscapes of the United States, but they did not go unchallenged. Many mainstream Americans worried about black militancy, opposed liberalism, and were even more dismayed by the radical offshoots they spawned. Generally overshadowed by more colorful protests for progressive causes, conservatives soon attracted support from many Americans who did not see change as progress. Many believed that the political leadership of the nation did not speak for them about what constituted a great society.

Conservatism had suffered a severe political blow with the ascendancy of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal liberalism. Yet as conservatives lost political influence, they joined together to keep alive and publicize their beliefs. The brand of conservatism that emerged in the 1960s united libertarian support for a laissez-faire political economy and opposition to social welfare policies with moralistic concerns for defeating communism and defending religious devotion, moral decency, and family values. Unlike earlier conservatives, the new generation believed that the United States had to escalate the struggle against the evil of godless communism anywhere it posed a threat in the world, but they opposed internationalism as represented in the United Nations.

Conservative religious activists who built grassroots organizations to combat liberalism joined forces with political and intellectual conservatives such as William F. Buckley, the founder of the National Review, an influential journal of conservative ideas. The Reverend Billy Joe Hargis’s Christian Crusade and Dr. Frederick Charles Schwartz’s Christian Anti-Communist Crusade, both formed in the early 1950s, spun conspiracy theories about how the eastern liberal establishment intended to sell the country out to the Communists by supporting the United Nations, foreign aid, Social Security, and civil rights. The John Birch Society, named after a Baptist missionary and U.S. military intelligence officer killed during World War II by Communists in China, packaged these ideas in periodicals and radio broadcasts throughout the country and urged readers and listeners to remain vigilant to attacks against their freedom.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the conservative revival grew, mostly unnoticed, at the grassroots level in the suburbs of southern California and the Southwest. Bolstered by the postwar economic boom that centered around the military research and development of the Cold War, these towns in the Sun Belt attracted college-educated engineers, technicians, managers, and other professionals from the Midwest (or Rust Belt) seeking new economic opportunities. These migrants brought with them Republican loyalties as well as traditional conservative political and moral values. Women played a large part in conservative causes, especially in protesting against public school curricula that they believed encouraged secularism over religion, sex education over abstinence, and anti-Americanism over patriotism. Young housewives built an extensive network of conservative study groups.

In addition, the conservative revival, like the New Left, found fertile recruiting ground on college campuses. In October 1960, some ninety young conservatives met at William Buckley’s estate in Sharon, Connecticut, to draw up a manifesto of their beliefs. The Sharon Statement affirmed the conservative doctrines of states’ rights, the free market, and anticommunism. Participants at the conference formed the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), which six months later boasted 27,000 members on one hundred college campuses, far more than were in SDS in 1960. The National Review became its bible as subscriptions to Buckley’s journal tripled to more than 90,000 by 1964. In 1962 the YAF filled Madison Square Garden to listen to a speech by the one politician who excited them: Republican senator Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona.

Goldwater’s book The Conscience of a Conservative (1960) attacked New Deal liberalism and advocated abolishing Social Security; dismantling the Tennessee Valley Authority, the government-owned public power utility; and eliminating the progressive income tax. His firm belief in states’ rights put him on record against the ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas and prompted him to vote against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, positions that won him increasing support from conservative white southerners. However, Goldwater’s advocacy of small government did not prevent him from supporting increased military spending to halt the spread of communism abroad. The senator may have anticipated growing concerns of government excess, but he was ahead of his time. His defeat to Lyndon Johnson by a landslide in the 1964 presidential election indicated that most voters perceived Goldwater’s brand of conservatism as too extreme and were not yet ready to support it.

The election of 1964 also brought George C. Wallace onto the national stage as a leading architect of the conservative revival. As Democratic governor of Alabama, the segregationist Wallace had supported states’ rights and opposed federal intervention to reshape social and political affairs. Wallace began to attract white northerners fed up with rising black militancy, forced busing to promote school integration, and open housing laws to desegregate their neighborhoods. Running in the Democratic presidential primaries in 1964, the Alabama governor had no chance to win, but he garnered 34 percent of the votes in Wisconsin, 30 percent in Indiana, and 43 percent in Maryland.

More so than Goldwater, Wallace united a populist message against the political establishment with concern for working-class Americans. Wallace voters identified with the governor as an “outsider,” despised by liberal elites as uncouth, uncultured, and unrespectable. Many of them also backed Wallace for attacking privileged college students who, he claimed, mocked patriotism, violated sexual taboos, and looked down on hardworking, churchgoing, law-abiding Americans. How could “all those rich kids—from the fancy suburbs,” one father wondered, “[avoid the draft] when my son has to go over there and maybe get his head shot off?” Each in his own way, George Wallace and Barry Goldwater waged political campaigns against liberals for undermining the economic freedom of middle- and working-class whites and coddling what they considered “racial extremists” and “countercultural barbarians.”


• How did organizations on the left challenge social, cultural, and economic norms in the 1960s?

• What groups were attracted to the 1960s conservative movement? Why?

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