Essay on Counterculture: Changing American Identity

Submitted By Vivek-Basnet
Words: 1380
Pages: 6

Counterculture: Changing American Identity
When, “4 Kent State Students killed by Troops” would be the first-page headline of the New York Times, any reader can assume there are problems in America. This article is one of the examples of traits in the changing era published in the front page of the New York Times on May 4th, 1970. Oppressed with racism, gender issues, consumerism, and the conservative nature of the society in general, American youths led the move for a new way of life going against traditional culture and values. Among the changing behavior, the most notable engagements were the counterculture movements which involve all those activities of that time. These counterculture movements had both political and cultural motivations- which not limited to North America, spread to Western Europe, New Zealand, and Australia. This also changed the identity of Americans through protests yearning to achieve political reforms and civility. Ultimately, the concerns of the counterculture movements of that era were the hindrance in attaining the highest standards for American integrity in today’s world. America faced many political protests ranging from social rights to the war engaged in by the Government. Starting with the cold war, American society had a hard time adopting the political ideology which was centered in the protection of its citizens and the war rose against growing communism. Following after World War II, propaganda like McCarthyism against the leftist (1950-1956), the Cuban missile crisis (1961) and the Vietnam War (1950-1973) already made that era chaotic. In addition, deeply rooted racial and sexual discrimination in American society limited the time period of that era through dread and anxiety. The counterculture turned and tuned the different socio-political facets of that period. In other words, the American government faced different political protests, and the results ended with different pieces of legislation and recognition of those deeply embedded social discrimination. In the United States, “public demonstrations focused on the Vietnam War and civil rights, but they also employed the attacks on cold war ‘imperialism’ and ‘fascism’ that animated the counterculture in Western Europe” (Suri 56-57). Meanwhile, on August 28th 1963, Civil Right Movement leader Martin Luther King Jr. speech “I Have a Dream” was attended by “250,000 people on the March on Washington” (Claire). Protests, like the second-wave feminists, advocated for the rights of accusers in cases of sexual violence, gender politics came head-to-head with decades of racial analysis and politics around cases of black-on-white rape (Jacquet 188). These circumstances resulted in different pieces of legislation such as the 1963 Equal Pay Act, 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act. Similarly, freedom was another big political focus caused by the counterculture movement. Government observed a huge protest for 1964 Free Speech movement which enabled American citizens to practice the first amendment to constitution. Gay rights, on the other hand, were becoming prominent with several protests. For example, the gay march held in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1965. Many protests for non-violence were held; the march to Pentagon on October 1967 was featured by 20,000 people continuously clashing with Police. In those clashes, police arrested 647 people and 47 people were hospitalized in total (McAdam 698). The National Democratic Convention held on 1968 was highly crowded by riots and protests. These movements tuned the American citizen in to ideals of equality, freedom, and non-violence. Similarly, the American society faced counterculture in fashion, sex, music and drugs. Citizens once known to be the patriot sons of World War started opposing the main culture. On the heated Gay rights movement and second-wave feminist movement, Poet Alan Ginsburg’s Gaul