Gerstle, Chapter 8, "Vietnam, Cultural Revolt, and the Collapse of the Rooseveltian Nation, 1968-1975"
1. To what does Gerstle attribute the U.S.'s descent into the Vietnam War? Why, initially, did descent into war not trigger antiwar activities in the United States?
2. Why does Gerstle argue that a vibrant antiwar movement began to form in the mid-to-late sixties? What sectors of society made up this movement? Why? How does he argue this movement related to the civil rights movement?
3. Gersle argues that antiwar activity within the military meant that it "could no longer serve as an agent of nation building" and thus, "a pillar of the Rooseveltian nation had crumbled to the ground" (327). What does he mean by this? Why did soldiers and veterans themselves eventually become part of the antiwar movement? In what ways was their dissent expressed? On the other hand, what positives does Gerstle see in the military in the war?
4. By the early seventies, Gerstle argues that many on the liberal/left began to construct a new politics and culture "antagonistic or indifferent to American nationalism" (327). He argues that this new politics and culture were founded on two premises. What were these premises? How would you characterize these premises in your own words?
5. Gerstle argues that by the early seventies, many groups were mimicking the politics of black power groups. What other racial minorities emulated this politics? Surprising, how does he argue that white ethnics began to mimic this politics as well? What evidence does he focus on to make his case regarding white ethnics and their mimicking of this politics?
6. What does Gerstle argue were the primary reasons for the collapse of the Rooseveltian Nation? Why were both the civic and racial components of the Rooseveltian Nation left in tatters? What does Gerstle mean when he writes that "the nationalist crisis occurred primarily in the realm of ideology, culture, and institutions" (345)?
Shakur, Chapters 15, 16, and 17
1. As we discussed in class, much of the reason for the break-up of left radical groups in the 1970s was due to political repression by the FBI. However, in the final section of Assata that you read for today, she hints at other, more internal reasons why this was the case. What problems does Shakur identify within the movement? Why, in some ways, does she argue that the movement is being torn apart from the inside? On the other hand, what good work did groups like the Black Panther do that was not well-known in the wider public?
2. Why does Assata admire her friend Zayd? How, through her friendship with him does she talk about other problems with the Black Panther Party? How do she and Zayd relate to this problem?
3. How did the FBI work to break up black radical groups? How do we see this in Assata's own personal experiences and in the experiences of Black Power groups? What did "going underground" mean for black radicals like Assata?
Document 24 in the course reader, Carl Wittman, "Refugees from Amerika: A Gay Manifesto" (1970)
1. How, according to Wittman, did gay liberation ideas derive from black freedom movements? How does Wittman seek, like in the black power movement, to set a new cultural standard where one's personal identity of being gay is a source of power and not something which should be seen as "lesser"? How does Wittman attempt to set this new cultural standard?
2. In what ways is this document different than what we might conceive of as a "gay rights" movement today? What are the main differences, as you see it, between a "gay rights" agenda and a "gay liberation" agenda (like Wittman's)?