The Personal is the PoliticalVoices from the UndergroundIntroductionRevolutionThe Vietnam WarThe PressAbout the ExhibitionIMAGE GALLERYHOME

Image GalleryThe Personal is the PoliticalRevolutionThe Vietnam WarThe PressIntroductionAbout the ExhibitionHOME
The Vietnam War

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In January 1965, Wilfred Burchett, a writer for the radical National Guardian, traveled to Vietnam to write an on-the-spot series of stories about Vietnam which challenged the Pentagon�s and the mainstream press�s ongoing optimistic characterization of the war. Soon afterward, Robert Scheer, in an article for Ramparts magazine, claimed the U.S. government was knowingly supporting an unpopular, U.S.-backed regime in South Vietnam, contrary to the Geneva accords of 1954. From that point on, the Vietnam War served as a focal point of reportage for the underground press, which continued challenging official reports of the rationale and progress of the struggle in Southeast Asia, further widening the credibility gap between official U.S. statements and large numbers of Americans who questioned official policy.

As the Vietnam War escalated under Lyndon Johnson, then changed in nature from a ground war to a technological air war under Richard Nixon, the underground press reported on widespread civilian casualties.

Old Mole. No. 25, 1969 (Cambridge, MA: Old Mole Collective)

Old Mole. No.25, 1969 (Cambridge, MA: Old Mole Collective)

Anti-war feelings intensified by 1970, when the war expanded into Cambodia and Laos to become the Southeast Asian War.

Anti-war sentiment was not limited to the civilian population of the United States. U.S. servicemen, disillusioned with the progress of the war, the nebulous rationale for the war, and the ugly realities of fighting a guerilla war in the tropics of a foreign country, founded the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Some testified in the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigations before Congress; their testimony of repeated atrocities against the people of Vietnam confirmed for many suspicions that the highly publicized My Lai massacre of 1968 was not an isolated incident of civilian deaths.

The presence of returning vets was conspicuous in many national protests against the war. Likewise, some GIs created their own underground press. Although American servicemen were legally entitled to possess anti-war, anti-military publications such as Fatigue Press and The Bond, they were not permitted to distribute them on base.


© 1999-2001 Text by Ellen Embardo, Exhibition Curator
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