Vietnam: A Television History; Homefront USA; 111; Interview with William Sloane Coffin, 1982
When you're. Ready.Go ahead. Oh you want me to start describing what I was not a graduate you know I was a real coldwar warrior I'd been for two and a half years that he is off of the Russian army inCzechoslovakia in Germany. I've been involved I'm sad to say in theforceful repatriation of Russian soldiers who had fought in the German armyagainst Stalin. I was convinced that Stalin was the only man of the 20th century thatI knew of who could make it to look like a Boy Scout. On the other hand itwas very clear to me that communism could only be defeated with another form of the left. You could neverdefeat communism with the form of the right. So while I was vigorouslyanti-communist and supported basically Truman and otherAmericans opposing the Soviet Union it always seemed to me that Joe McCarthyand people on the right were absolute disaster and were playing the communist game with themyou know you know America and its role in the world.I think you mentioned in the context of your answer. I think you were in the CIA.Why would you.
Well I was very normal red blooded American patriot I was four years in thearmy and World War 2 and then from 1950 to 53 I was in the CIA in the Russianfield and basically domestically my bigquarrel was that we didn't treat blacks correctly I was noton to the woman's issue at that time. I felt obviously a nation isjudged by the way it treats the poor and we had plenty of room for progressbut abroad I thought we were doing fairly well the Marshall Plan was an expression ofpragmatic generosity. Churchill's Cold War speech at FultonMissouri didn't bother me because I really felt that the Soviets had to be veryvigorously opposed I was for George kind of containment policy.When you write you know again it was later when many people were involvedin civil rights.Could you yes impact people who had been at you know goingto the south being active and then coming back what was the impact of their returning you know to their
own you know with the experience of what had happened to them in this room withthem and really. Used it.Yeah see I think basically values and so muchtalk as they're caught caught in a concrete valueforming experience. I think everybody in America agrees that all men are created equal.How many feel the monstrosity of inequality and those adoreblacks or others who have been discriminated against.Or in the case of the early civil rights days those few students a year let's say went downsouth in the summer of 64 and worked and came back witha first hand experience of discrimination. Now let's immediately say you shouldn't havehad to go down south you didn't that to go down South to have that kind of experience but it was moredrastic it was clear in the South that I was in the north.Let's talk let's go on from there.
The impact of civil rights on the anti-war movement was something you said to me on the day which interested methat people could see injustice here where it was found it easier to see andhear. And in other words it was not the work of all right.If you could just express again just if there was a naturalthing yeah. It's often the case that those furthest from the seat of poweran ear into the heart of things. Those community organizers inMississippi or in Chicago could see firsthand theinjustices in Chicago. Analysts say in the south and those same people hadno problems seeing the same kind of injustices in Vietnam a thousandmiles away where most of the Presidents work for absentee landowners who took25 percent of the take and it wasn't hard for people who areused to living with injustices home to recognize that the South Vietnam government couldnever talk convincingly to its people about their own national independence of their own land
reform or other forms of social justice. So it was often the case and it shouldn't besurprising that it was a community worker in Chicago or Mississippi who was forcloser to the truth of what was going on in Vietnam than let's say a mock tomorrowRusk or President Johnson.Did you know that you know him well you know. So imagine how it wouldbe with a comment.I think you know I think it was the work of war and everythingto do with you and all those sad fact the matter is theAmerican people were never to be told the truth not by any of them and they elected to the presidency.LBJ used to tell us what is at stake is the cause of freedom. Well how a freedom wasreally the concern of the American government then why weren't all of us crying bloodymurder and but before Castro a true hero in the Dominican Republic Why weren't we desperatelyconcerned with the plight of blacks let's say in Portuguese Angola at that time. Or South Africa itwas clear that the plight of any black African
in South Africa was worse than that of an average Vietnamese on hoti menso it was ridiculous to talk of this is the cause of freedom and the State Department disgraceditself by coming out with a white paper that never would have passed a freshman history classsaying that the war began with the invasion of North Vietnamese into the south in1959 1960. Well anybody who knew anything about the history of thatplace near them. Yes in the China it was one country1945 one and the war against the French established a temporarymilitary but not a permanent political line at the 17th parallelelections were supposed to be held by 1956 and the elections were sabotaged by theUnited States and goats with the South Vietnamese government. So to say that the warwas started when they invaded from the north into the South was ridiculous the truth of thematter was that we were never told what the United States was engaged in a massiveunilateral and military intervention in the civil affairs of another country which isn't a thanks
saw its mind between North and South at all. Our position basically was we wereagainst intervention. The Soviets intervened to make sure a country stays communist. WeAmericans intervene in a country to make sure it doesn't go communist and on both sides the interventions arewrong.You've answered part of this next question but I want to get it in a slightly different form. You talked about inthe early protests the need for teaching but there had to be an educationalthrust in addition to this emotional commitment which was very much you could just stay thereand if you wouldn't mind recapitulating this argument that not only foreigners from thenorth but the fact that there was a communist influence from the outside that was the argument that wasI was doing that.Interestingly in love It was a graduate student and baroque musicat Yale who first turned me on to the war. He asked me when I was going to speakup against it and I said What do you want me to say. And he said I'll bring you my file and
this harpsichordist arrived with a file of that thick and which he hadarticles from French newspapers British newspapers magazine articles fromour own country as well as other countries.And I read that for five hours that night at the end of which I was convinced that he was right thisis a matter about which one could not stay silent and certainly couldn't stand up and cheerand the teachings that followed in 65 starting at the University of Michiganplayed a terribly important role because they gave a lot of intellectualcontent to the opposition. And we had to know the facts at leastall the relevant ones and we had to be able to state them better than the government could. Andsecondly the teachings played a very important nourishing role because the sense oftogetherness that came with being in one hall for four hours at a time when nobodywanted to leave as one professor after another student at the other visiting dignitary came in to talkthat sense of togetherness was a terrifically supportive thing at a time when you were
call communist trade and things like that.Of course the government was all wrong in its understanding of communism.I think American anti communism is probably as blind anideology as Soviet communism and we can say no Iunderstand that you can't have a revote without revoltingconditions and communists can't come in and start a revolt.Communists may light a match but the important question is how come is there. How comethere's a fuse attached to a powder keg and to say that the communistsstarted it all or leaving it all Soviet communists or Chinese communists inthe government always very nigh on this one. In Vietnam it was like saying the black.Rising in the Watts or New York or in any of the other 27 cities where we hadriots in 67 or all fomented by outsiders coming in. No Ku KluxKlan in this country would believe for a moment that black discontent is started and
led by communists. And yet most Americans buy that line. The discontent in the ThirdWorld has started and led by communists. It's equally ridiculous on both sides.It was I think in late 645 that we started what came to be known as clergy concerned about the war in Vietnamthat was called clergy and laity concerned about Vietnam.This was a group of men and womenwho felt enormous anguish over the war.
We were called wild eyed idealists but I think you'd be more accurate to say we wereexperiencing a clear eyed revulsion. Againstus.Now you know. It's to you.The clergy found themselves. In a very interesting.Difficult. Dilemma very often.First of all the average American thinks the church shouldn't meddle in politicswhich is probably what Farrow said to Moses. Andmost churches are more concerned with free love let's say than with free hate anddon't consider issues of war and peace to be the legitimate concern of the religious community.It's very un-Biblical the Bible is much more concerned with war and peace than it is with drinking sex and thesethings. But it was hard for clergy who felt that way sometimes to deal with people
whom they love dearly and their congregation would simply but who didn't want the clergy dealing with this issue.And I remember the long evenings where we tried to see what were the specificreligious issues that the current church should deal with. Obviously it wasthe fact that war has a blood stained face. And fromwhich we have no right to avert our gaze. But the Pentagon and the mediawas describing the war in the most anti-septic sort of way you know the destructionof the infrastructure which didn't tell you that women and children were being slaughteredin order of the guerrillas who wouldn't have anything to be done you know or you'd see apilot being interviewed at night and the reporter wouldn't say how many did youkill. He'd say Well Captain how do you think it went. And the captain a verynice looking guy obviously a perfectly decent husband father type you know said Well Ithink we did a good job. And if it weren't for the uniform you wouldn't know you had back cleaning
out the yard. So we had to bring the bloody face of warhome to the American people because we were going to be killing people. The American people ought to know that.Secondly we had to remind people thatagreement or unity is not based on agreement but on mutual concernsand that there is no virtue in national unity if it's based on Folly.Thirdly and this is a very difficult thing to do. We had to remind peoplethat sacrifice in and of itself confers no sanctity.Saint Paul said though I give my body to be burned the very stuff of heroism buthave not love it profited me nothing. But if your own husbandor lover or son has been killed in the war it's pretty hard to accept the fact that thatperson's blood doesn't make that cause one whit more or less that that was a very toughthat the clergy had to deal with. We did not have to question the sincerity of our leaders rather it
was the passionate conviction of the rightness of their cause. Anyclergy worth his or her salt knows that in a divorce there is no such thing as innocentparty. And one of the reasons we enjoy doing enjoined to love ourenemies is because of the part we play in making them our enemies. So our rolewas to complicate a picture that Johnson and Nixon and Kissinger andothers were trying to make much too much too simple. And then ofcourse there were the youth.Who if they went to college were in effect draft dodgersaccording to the draft.Because as long as you stayed in college you wouldn't be drafted so these youth who were veryconscientious felt well maybe I should be getting out of college and make myselfknown as a member of the draft like anybody else. And then there were those who resisted thedraft as you remember. Turned in their draft cards well clergy can'ttrain used to be conscientious only to desert youth in their hour of conscience.
So all the pastors of the country had to stand by the youth whowere taking a stand of conscience and that was very costly to many of thembecause congregations are a little loath to have too muchconscience brought to the fore in the church I don't want to be overly harsh on the church butthat's the way it's up to Big Brother clergy found themselves in a very difficult difficult dilemma.Catholic bishops were very anti-communist. So it's very hard to find a Catholicbishop who would say I am anti communist but I think this war is evil.Rabbis were very afraid that if they opposed Johnson on the war in Vietnamjust would not support them on Israel. So all these things were very much in the picture when itcame to the clergy.Why did you not like this movement could you describe.I remember one evening we were sitting around in pres. Bennett's apartment. President of Union
Theological Seminary in New York and Rabbi Heschel who is one of the greatrabbis of this country said you know we needone voice the voice that everybody would hear. And all of uslike that knew exactly when we met. So I said well I havehis number and I'll give him a call so I called Atlanta and he was at home. And Itold him who was in the room and what has Charlotte said. And Martin Luther King was awonderful listener.He just kept hearing.Bill I've been thinking about this myself. And he said hepreached a great deal of interest that we had shown and that he would get back to us.Eight months later he elected to speak out against the war inRiverside Church. And BenettonHeschel and that one of the historian comments from Amherst were also
there to support what he said and what made it so hard forMartin was that. So manyleaders of other civil rights groups and some of his own advisorswere telling him do not mix up domestic civil rights thedomestic civil rights movement and the war in Vietnam. If you opposed Johnsonand this you can be sure he's going to cut down on the war on poverty and so forth. And whenKing made his speech every single civil rights leader of all the othermajor organizations criticized him for making it butdragging the civil rights movement into the war. And I'll never forget the New YorkTimes perhaps predictably was unable to see whathe meant when he said the United States is today the greatest purveyor of violencein the world. So he paid a very heavy price for his stance. Butthat was typical if you take a strong moral position you usually don't expect to be justified right away it
takes time.Still rolling.Why did you decide to engage in civil disobedience. Yes you talkto me as well because you talk about.Well civil disobedience is not something you resort to as a first resortnot in a democracy so we didn't mean we sign petitions wroteour letters went down to Washington held our rally stood in silent vigils did all the gooddemocratic things in the great American tradition. But then the question arisessuppose you done all these things many times and for many yearswith no seeming effect do youput your conscience to bed with a comforting thought. Well I did what I could the president continues toescalate the war and the law of the land is clear. What do you say
well having chosen the route of protest I choose to pursue it to the end even though the end means going tojail. I think the choice you make at that point depends on how wrong you think thewar is and how deeply you care about it. My own feeling wasthat this war was so wrong that having done all the other things Ijust felt I would have to commit civil disobedience.It's not an easy thing to do.If you're married and if you have small children and it's also not an easy thing todo because sometimes civil disobedience is the lastrefuge of the incompetent. They do things to makethemselves feel better but they don't improve the situation one little bit.So whereas I have great sympathy for civil disobedience as a greatreligious and American tradition thorough early Quaker lady and HUTCHISONThe truth is my authority not some authority my truth.
Still I'm very critical of how we try to implementthis principle and the occasion almost fell into my handsbecause my parishioners students and because I had there whenpeople were nice enough to invite me to talk all over the country I felt a wider parish ofstudents were turning in their draft cards and what was their chaplain going to do.And the obvious thing was the pastor should stand by his parishioners andas the law of the land was clear section 12 of the National So Selective Service Act saidanyone who counsel aids and abets anyone else inevading or refusing. Registrationdraft is liable to the same punishment which was five years in jail and$10000. So that seemed to be a very natural route for meand some of the some of the others to follow that we would.We who are above draft age would support those who would turn in their draft cards
saying that they refused to be drafted.There's a fine hymn written by former Harvardpresident James Ross a law which goes once to every man and nation comes the moment todecide in the strife of truth with also the for the good or evil side.And it is the brave man chooses while a coward stands aside to let multitude makevirtue of the faith they had denied. I kept thinking that that moment todecide was fast approaching. By about thesummer of 67 and then in the spring I guess it wascame out this call to resist illegitimate authority as it was calledwritten I think by RASC and Wasco to peoplein the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington and about 500 of usclergy professors writers were asked to assemble in New York at a press
conference. Sign this thing and declare that we were now ready tosupport aid and abet whatever that meant. Young peoplewho resisted the draft so we had this great calland we didn't know quite what to do with it. And then wefound out that on October 16th sixty sevenyouth that had somehow mysteriously gathered its representatives somewhere in thecountry had decided a nationwide turn and.Turn in a draft card.And parent that equally these draft cards were really very funny because they were important forthe enforcement of the liquor laws. But they really were totallyunnecessary to the whole conscription process. But the law said you had to have thisdraft card on your person at all times. So these students for the most partstudents had decided that they would have a draft
card turn and in about 15 20 different places throughout the country on oneparticular day. And Boston was chosen. And in Boston theArlington Street Unitarian Church. And I wascalled and I asked if I would give a major address. So I wasreally pleased because. A church would give thewhole operation perhaps a little more dignity and respect abilityand I was always worried about draft card burnings. Theflame didn't look Pentecostal To me it looked really hostile justlike I think you should burn the flag to wash the flag you know burn the flag weshouldn't burn these draft cause you know to turn them in great dignity I don'tso this look like a very promising kind of operations and then the thing was how are we going to get thecameras to concentrate on something in the church when the cameras are you know pricealways wants to go for the sensational as opposed to the valuable.
So if it's outside and there's violence you can count on it the press will be there in force if it's inside anddignified nobody's going to turn up. Well I managed to get Sandy Vinocur of NBCinterested. I said you know they're going to turn in draft cards in the church says Jesus Christ Isaid. That's what it's all about Sandy. And so get yourself up there and takethis. So he was up there you know standing like a hockey coach behind these cameras you know stridingup and down telling them what to take and then to my horror a very eloquentchurch historian.Push put his finger out to the toward the candle that was on the altar and saidthat that candle along to William Channing thefounder of Unitarianism in this country and of that sacred flame you know kept thetruth alive etc. etc. and he talks so eloquently that I could see all these draftresisters saying I'm want to take my car and put it in the sacred flame ofscandal. Well that's exactly what they did. And I saw shine even OK you
know telling his camera zoom in on that you know this is awfully you know things being ruined.But fortunately only about 60 dead and some 200 odd othersgave their draft cards to us because the idea then was to takethese draft cards turn them into the Justice Department and call on all thesepeople who would sign this call to resist religion of authority to appear inWashington outside the Justice Department building in support of these people who wereturning in their draft cards to the Justice Department itself. Well as itturned out camera didn't look quite so bad in the church and the mediabegan to take us a little more seriously I think about that time in thatwe were all wide eyed idealist things like that. But then the thing thatreally got us in trouble was the turning of the draft cards that the Justice Department.Just the wrong Barber was in there you know
but you know he was stunned by the river. OK let'sgo on what happened. Just like didyou hear that years ago andDickie asked him if you know just use daycares because that's adistraction from the main you know I would make a big deal ifyou're going to mention it. Yeah I know.Well these 500 writers like Norman Mailerand John Hersey and professors like R B Cand go off and people like that again whom I knew very well and the clergy gatheredin front of the Justice Department to support these students who would turn in their draft cardsand it was the usual. Funny situation. First of all wegathered in two churches proving that intellectuals can never get their act together. And then the
cops thought we were as dangerous as any marches on the Pentagon you know even Dr. Spock inhis three piece suit looked like some hippie to them you know. Unbelievable how they can't seem to see thedifference. And they zoomed up and down on their motorcycles as if they were sheep dogs youknow guiding the sheep. But fortunately they were there because of the head of the column.We suddenly realize we didn't know the best way to get to the gests and for thepolice we might never made it. And when we got there we forgot the bullhorn butthere was a physicist in the crowd and he got a bullhorn and we made afew fine speeches I can remember Ashley Montagu saying if the war in Vietnam isright what's there left the call long. And I guess I made the mainspeech which was simply to say that we are here to support these youngpeople in their hour of conscience and if they are arrested for violating a law whichviolates their consciences then we must be arrested for we here by counselthem to continue to follow the dictates of their conscience and we will aid and abet them in every way we
can to resist the draft. So we put ourselves on the line then 10 of us wereallowed to go inside.Where we were met by somebody in a black suit and no face. And the walk down thisinterminable corridor and then into a room where there was anotherno face black man at the end of a mahogany table anda lady over here ready to pour coffee and determine to be courteous about allthis. No face black suited man said Would you care for coffee. Well we hadin our crowd a nifty black guy.They all thought he had the bomb though where he would have carried it I don't know because his pants were so tight youcouldn't get a match stick into the pocket. But all the secretaries peering out the doors you could see himpointing at him he must have. He came down the carving into this and he sayscome from my own home. And the secretary got so frightened shepour more coffee in the sauces and in the cup. All is good for
comic relief in the middle of a rather. Difficult trying time. Andthen we told Mr. McDonough's his name was what we were there for.And Dickie game a good black rap this is the black and then Madonna tookout a piece of paper and said he'd like to read us something at that point this black guy saidman you can go read that. And he says yes that was my intention when Idon't have to listen to you cats litter. And when you know every movement just asgraceful as a cat. Well Madonna looked visibly relieved that the one black guy andI was away and there was nothing but US middle class whites left.So you read this pompous statement alleging that we were perhaps inviolation of the law all of which of course we knew and then a very funny thinghappened he folded the paper and put it back in his coat and he turned to me andDr. Kaufmann my being tendered something I said tended tosomething Mr. McDonough.
He says yes hundred something. I said Oh yes. Catching onI picked up this briefcase at about nine hundred and fifty Drac. I says you'rehere by being tenderly tended nine hundred fifty draft because we're supportingstatements from some 500 people who are now outside your building.And he went like this.And I said Shall we try it again Mr. McDonough You know when I offered it to him again andagain he went back like this I couldn't understand what was going on you know. So I said well should we try the table Mr.McDonough so I put the thing down on the table in front of him you know.That. I don't want to go have been watching this like Wimbledon you know.Stood up. You know heat. Brady.And said. I can't understand what's going on here you allege thatwe are guilty of crimes to which we offer you substantive proof and he slammed his hand down inthe briefcase. How do you refuse to accept the evidence where a man is your all the obvious.I thought it was terrific. You know his partner told me after his sixth grade civics was not
impressed but I case the briefcase stayed there and we walked outand we found out afterwards that the FBI was waiting in the next roomand just waiting for us to get out you know to come in and pick up the evidence.And we certainly heard from them very shortly thereafter.You know we're going to get it.You know.I should probably. Tell you the way back in 65 Iwent to Paris to be part of a conference on thewar in Vietnam and while I was there on a very famous Frenchcorrespondent asked me if I wouldn't meet with my VOM Bowl who was the ambassador
from North Vietnam to Paris.So I did and he was a very civilized man and we dranktea as one always does with Vietnamese. And I was telling him that the peacemovement was very weak and that in a place you know John saw I fall is very strongand he smilingly said Moishe it all we have no illusions.This whole matter is going to be settled on the battlefield. And my heart sankand I said How long will it take he said. Ind. and then the 10years about. And that was 65 I guess. Well nine yearslater he was proven right. And this was always in the back of mymind so that when the conditions seemed to be improving Nixonand I had the practical wisdom the recognized China that I can't give him toomuch credit we got all the time we were crying for him to do that. He was telling us we were traitors.But anyhow you know the practical wisdom to recognize China and he was bringing
the boys home and it looked on the surface as if things were getting better.But those who are closer to the situation knew that what had happened was terrible theelectronic battlefield was in place. The bombing was increasingthe secret bombing of course in Cambodia.Incredible unconstitutional immoral act. We should have beenimpeached for that not the peccadillo compared to you know what that wasbut the slaughtering was going on and even greater stylee was being doneby from the air instead of from the ground or it was being done by proxy Americansin the form of the South Vietnamese army that was vastly increased in its firepower and so forth.So it looked as if things were going to improve but it was also clear that thesituation was in fact getting worse. Then the draftstopped. So that took away that moralcard that you just had in your wallet with the question why should I still have it. You know
why and I turned it in and then people were getting bored. Now it gets boringto pick up the newspaper every morning at breakfast and curse the president once again finally.There's no percentage in that. So it was very hard to continueto resist the war when you were bored with it and when you had done what youthought was just about everything and it didn't seem to make much difference.Could you tell your what was happeningin the country and my mates that's. Thegood news.Well you know it's unrealistic to expect a peace movement to stay wall at peaceful all thatlong. It takes a great deal of discipline. It takes a great deal ofpersistence and conviction.For. A peace movement to stay in effect peaceful.
And I am quite willing to accept the blame when you know when the peace movement.Turns violent. But I think in all fairness it must be pointed out that the passive of the of theCongress was breathtaking. All those senators who are deadset against the war still voted appropriations. And I remember a heart breakingsession I had with one senator who said to me Look Bill you don't understand what's going onhere suppose we did oppose the president as opposed to thumb his nose at us. We'd be in the midst of aconstitutional crisis and we'd be fighting on two fronts is that what you want. And so inorder to avoid a constitutional crisis we're going to go on slaughtering by the hundreds of thousandsof innocent people a thousand miles away the capacity of the Congress wasI say breathtaking. And when you see people begin toget kind of desperate. And it was easy if you were older as I was youknow when you had reason to be grateful to love your country.It always was a lover's quarrel with the United States but a lot of the youth who had no
particular reason to be grateful to the United States had no reason to have any great love for the United States andits institutions were carrying on a grudge fight and you could tell a difference they would march to the beatof more distant dramas such as men and Che Guevara wave and I left flagswhile we tried to march to the drumbeats of Abraham Lincoln and thorough andwave the American flag because patriotism is on our side.So it was inevitable that the segments of the peace movement would turnviolent. And let's not forget as we found out later that we didn't know at the time theFBI had placed a lot of eyes on provocateur and that to provoke this kind of violence.So by the end of 69 and in the 70 71 some of these weathermen asyou know got violent and went underground. But I would say the more important thing to sayis how few.Were those who became violent and the recognize that violence isat least a perversion of charity or
is indifference abnegation total charity.If you had to give me a choice of whether you want to have blood on your hands or want to like pilotI'll take the blood on your handswhen you take six.Let me ask let me ask you this. You think it's worse to have blood on your handsor water like pilot. In other words turning violent may be aperversion of charity butindifference is the absence of charity. And I thinkindifference is worse and while it's myself and it is indifference it leads to violence in thelong run a Congress that invents a passive fundamentally so indifferent
I doubt whether the peace movement would have turned violent. So it'sa very touchy kind of an issue. You know violence in the peace movement. Butbasically I feel that nonviolence is more radicalthan violence. It brings about slower perhaps but deeper change.I think it's desperately important that we carry on a lover's quarrel with our country and nota grudge fight. I think it's terribly important to hate evil. Otherwise justsentimental. But you'd better love good more than you hate the evil.Otherwise if you hate evil more than you love the good you become a damn good hater. And that is notonly bad for the world bad for the cause it's also personally verydiminishing it's bad for you too.I'm glad you have money that Congress can keepmaking you ask whether it made made any difference.
I personally feel it made an enormous difference. I thinkin the understanding of America's role in the world there has been agreat change since the war in Vietnam. I startedout thinking that the war in Vietnam was basically a dis a diversionfrom our primary course in the world. Now I understand that it was part of ourprimary course the United States is fundamentally an imperialistic countrywe still are engaged in interventionist policies. So as the Soviet Union a plagueon both their houses. But I think a lot more Americans understand that what wedid in Vietnam we're now ready to do again and else our the and I don'twant to unless we watch. I don't think now we have to be in the middle of thejungle to come to our minds. I think we know before we get into the jungle This is avery bad move to make. So I think from that point of view it was there was a lot of
consciousness raising that took place. I think it's also very clear now as it was notthen that you cannot have guns and butter. It's either guns war bottom.And right now and all the time we're saying that we're not even getting.Marjorie for heaven's sakes and the expenditures on militaryadventures and the arms race just mean that the poor are going to be kept in their povertyindefinitely and I think we learned a lot from that. We still haven'tlearned how to live with communist countries. We still look formilitary solutions to essentially political andsocial problems. We still haven'tlearned what pluralism in the world is all about. GreatBritain managed to lose its power rather gracefully. British have alwayssort of learned how to cooperate gracefully with the inevitable. Maybe they gave up theirpower after World War 2 because they're so convinced that the British are so much superior to everybody
else. But the French didn't they fought like dogs in the china and fought like dogs in ourarea.And now the question is being addressed to us I think would you Americansbe willing to relinquish some of the power that you had reallyalmost a monopoly for after World War 2. Or will youinsist on being the hurts of the world when it comes to military strength.And my hope is that we Americans have enough and tradition enoughRemembrance of Things Past to remind ourselves for instance thatour nation's influence was at its greatest one as a military power we wereweakest and that we stand for much better things than militaryintervention and the kind of freedom that we represent at best thekind of openness that Lincoln stood for when he said withmalice toward none and charity for all which makes Abraham Lincoln the spiritual center of Americanhistory.
- Homefront USA
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- Interview with William Sloane Coffin, 1982
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- After serving in the CIA and the military, the Rev. William Sloane Coffin later became an activist in the Civil Rights, anti-Vietnam War, and Nuclear Disarmament movements. Here he discusses his personal evolution and the beginnings of the anti-war movement at university teach-ins. He was a founder of Clergy and Laity Concerned About Vietnam and recalls efforts to bring Martin Luther King, Jr., into the peace movement. Coffin also describes his civil disobedience with other clergy, for which they were convicted of aiding and abetting draft resisters. He recounts an event where students turned over their draft cards, some burning them. Finally, he comments on the fracturing of the peace movement in the latter days of the war and his views on American imperialism.
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- Raw Footage
- War and society; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Personal narratives, American; Vietnamese reunification question (1954-1976); clergy; United States--Foreign relations--Asia; United States--Foreign relations--1945-1989; draft; Religion and Politics; Cold War; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Public opinion; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--United States; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements; Vietnam--Politics and government; Youth and war; Imperialism; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--United States; United States--History--1961-1969; United States--History--20th century; Civil rights movements--United States; King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968; Vietnam War, 1961-1975
- Rights Note:1) No materials may be re-used without references to appearance releases and WGBH/UMass Boston contract. 2) It is the responsibility of a production to investigate and re-clear all rights before re-use in any project.,Rights:,Rights Credit:WGBH Educational Foundation,Rights Type:,Rights Coverage:,Rights Holder:WGBH Educational Foundation
- Media type
- Moving Image
Interviewee2: Coffin, William Sloane
Publisher: WGBH Educational Foundation
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: 3bb66d9e87ac276621c7fb31553f01c16835b1e5 (ArtesiaDAM UOI_ID)
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- Chicago: “Vietnam: A Television History; Homefront USA; 111; Interview with William Sloane Coffin, 1982,” 1982-08-30, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 19, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-9k45q4rs29.
- MLA: “Vietnam: A Television History; Homefront USA; 111; Interview with William Sloane Coffin, 1982.” 1982-08-30. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 19, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-9k45q4rs29>.
- APA: Vietnam: A Television History; Homefront USA; 111; Interview with William Sloane Coffin, 1982. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-9k45q4rs29