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The conventional interpretation of the 1960s emphasizes how liberal, even radical, the decade was. It was, after all, the age of mass protests against the Vietnam War and social movements on behalf of civil rights and women's rights. It was also an era when the counterculture challenged many of the values and beliefs held by morally traditional Americans. But a newer interpretation stresses how truly polarized the 1960s were. It portrays how radicals, liberals, and conservatives repeatedly clashed in ideological combat for the hearts and minds of Americans. Millions in the center and on the right contested the counterculture, defended the Vietnam War, and opposed civil rights.
Debating the 1960s explores the decade through the arguments and controversies between radicals, liberals, and conservatives. The focus is on four main areas of contention: social welfare, civil rights, foreign relations, and social order. The book also examines the emergence of the New Left and the modern conservative movement. Finally, it assesses the enduring importance of the 1960s on contemporary American politics and society. Combining analytical essays and historical documents, the book highlights the polarization of the decade by focusing on the political, social, and cultural debates that divided the nation then and now.
Part I: The Liberal-Radical Debates of the 1960s
Chapter 1: Excerpts from "The Port Huron Statement"
Chapter 2: "Radio and Television Report on Civil Rights"
Chapter 3: "Remarks on Signing the Economic Opportunity Act"
Chapter 4: "An Interracial Movement of the Poor?"
Chapter 5: "Peace Without Conquest"
Chapter 6: "Name the System!"
Chapter 7: Excerpts from "Rights in the Conflict: Chicago's 7 Brutal Days"
Part II: The Liberal-Conservative Debates of the 1960s
Chapter 8: The Sharon Statement
Chapter 9: Principles of the John Birch Society
Chapter 10: Excerpts from John Kennedy's Commencement Address (American University)
Chapter 11: Excerpts from Lyndon Johnson's Commencement Address (University of Michigan)
Chapter 12: Excerpts from Barry Goldwater's Acceptance Speech (Republican Convention)
Chapter 13: Excerpts from Ronald Reagan's "A Time for Choosing"
Chapter 14: Excerpts from Richard Nixon's Acceptance Speech (Republican Convention)