I love Bill Murray. I don’t love his remarks comparing Parkland, Florida, high school students protesting the Second Amendment to college students protesting the Vietnam War a half-century ago (I still love Bill Murray and you should, too).
“I was thinking, looking at the kids in Parkland, Florida who have started these anti-gun protests, that it really was the students that began the end of the Vietnam War,” Murray opined. “It was the students who made all the news, and that noise started, and then the movement wouldn’t stop. I think, maybe, this noise that those students in Florida are making — here, today — will do something of the same nature.”
Some may object to Murray elevating students involved for a blip with another protest movement that lasted about a decade. This possesses some merit. The primary error, it seems, comes in the premise. Students did not end the Vietnam War. They ended the draft. And once the draft ended, their protests, at least on a mass scale, ended, too.
Wikipedia, not normally my go-to source for history, lists more than 100 major events on its page documenting protests against the Vietnam War. The very last one occurred one week before Richard Nixon ended the draft. Small, scattered protests, of the like that do not appear Wikipedia’s radar—one in Central Park in 1975 involving Joan Baez and others comes to mind—continued. But even as the killing continued the big protests did not because the draft did not.
Beyond this, the young people who stopped the war carried guns and looked nothing like Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, or Tom Hayden. They did not spend time in Ann Arbor or Berkeley. They devoted their days to killing Americans. As much as we want to believe that a sandwich board stops a war and a sit-in prevents a shooting, the reality remains that force stops force.
Did not Sgt. Hulka teach John Winger at least that?