The Vietnam War: The My Lai Massacre

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The My Lai massacre was a point of changing views and perspectives of the American public on the Vietnam War (Source A). The violence of the actions taken were too extreme for many Americans to ignore. The massacre came to represent the war as a whole and the soldiers that were supposed to represent America’s heroes for a number of citizens no longer maintained this hero status but rather were seen as criminals (Source B). The massacre started nation-wide questioning about America’s involvement in the war and even people who were extremely pro-Vietnam war had to reanalyse their rationalisation for the American military presence in Vietnam (Source B). There was an increasing divide in the opinions about the war that only increased after the …show more content…

There was a poll where 79% of people objected to Lieutenant Calley’s (a main perpetrator in the massacre) conviction (Source F). This does not, however, mean that they were in support of the crimes committed but rather that they felt his sentence was too harsh. A section of this group felt that the actions that were taken against Calley were unjust and that he should rather have been commended for killing so many “Commie Gooks” (Source F). This indicates that their pro-war stance was left unaffected by the massacre. It can even suggest that the incident spurred on the hatred felt by some of these American citizens. This also illustrates the Cold War politics and the impact of the “Red Scare” that became entrenched in the minds of a number of Americans. Despite the massive resistance to the war it is evident there were still groups whose views on the war remained …show more content…

The “Hawks” are an example of a section of the population that wanted the war to continue with full force in 1968 (Source C). They felt that victory was crucial and the only way to achieve this was to increase the bombing and force which the military was using. Malcom X said “by whatever means necessary” although this was said in a completely different context and with a completely different goal in mind, this is ultimately the strategy which the “Hawks” wanted the American government to deploy (Source C). They wanted immediate results even at the cost of massive loss of lives, civilian or otherwise. However, the Johnson Administration under the current President Johnson left them feeling frustrated and disillusioned with the war (Source C). These “Hawks” revoked their support for the war. Nevertheless, their attitudes changed not as a result of the massacre at My Lai but rather because of Johnson’s slow and cautious approach to the

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