For late 2023, a reminder from Tom Hayden

Bruce Dickson
2 min readNov 9, 2023
All together we can come to peace

From a speech Tom Hayden gave at a 2015 conference in Washington, D.C., titled “Vietnam: The Power of Protest.”

In the late 1970s and1980s, there came a generation of career politicians who were afraid associate with the peace movement. They were afraid of being seen as soft, who saw the inside track was the track of war.

Our national forgetting is basically pathological. Our systems — politics, media, culture — are totally out of balance today because of our collective refusal to admit the Vietnam War was wrong and the peace movement was right.

In the absence of an established voice for peace, in all our institutions, neoconservatives fill the foreign policy vacuum. Am I right? Will it not? Will it not advise both parties?

I think American public opinion has shifted to a much more skeptical view of pro-war conservatives than earlier generations; yet, the spectrum of American politics and media has not.

President Obama reminds us to remember, Selma, Seneca Falls and Stonewall. But why not Saigon, Chicago and Vietnam?

Let’s ask why these omissions exist. Let’s realize only we can restore the place of the peace movement in the proper history of those times.

We suspect there is a reason Obama omits Saigon, Chicago and Vietnam. It has to do with programming public amnesia. Powerful forces in our country stand for denial, not just climate denial, but generational denial, Vietnam denial.

Yes, forces standing for ethnic cleansing exist now, but not just ethnic cleansing, these forces stand also for historic cleansing. This is what has happened.

Sanitizing the peace movement in the history books, serves their purpose because they have no interest in the true history of a war in which they sent thousands to their deaths and, almost before the blood had dried, were moving up the national security ladder and showing up for television interviews to advertise what they called the next cakewalks, the next “easy” military targets to fight and conqueror.

Slightly edited for clarity from