Natalia J. Garland
The anti-war protests of the 1960's-1970's, as well as the Civil
Rights marches of that era, can be contrasted to the new anti-war
protests of our present era. Although the same Constitutional
rights are exercised (the First Amendment rights of freedom of
speech and freedom of assembly), and although the marches may
appear similar on the surface, the motivation and impact of the
new protestors penetrates deeper nationally and reaches farther
globally. This is because contemporary political narcissists
not only protest the necessity and strategy of the Iraq War, but
also designate America as the enemy.
The protestors from
the Vietnam War era were anti-war and anti-establishment. Many
were young and/or intellectuals, including students and professors.
Remember, the military draft was operative during the Vietnam era
and this had a direct impact on high school graduates and
college-aged youth. The difference, however, between
anti-establishment protestors and blame-America protestors is that
the former group generally consisted of youth who distrusted the
older generation, and the latter consists of narcissists of all
ages who express hostility toward their own nation.
The Vietnam War
protests coincided with the Civil Rights movement. Black people
and many young people were concerned about equality for minorities
and women, and distrusted the older generation which had
perpetuated racism and other abuses. Although the older
generation had bravely fought and won World War II, it was also a
generation marked by racial prejudice, domestic violence, and
child abuse. Secrets and hypocrisy were just beginning to receive
legal attention and mental health intervention. Right or wrong,
the youth perceived an overlap of social injustice and Vietnam
This is in contrast
to the new anti-war movement in which there is denial of the
brutal reality of terrorism and evasion of the profound commitment
needed to protect civilized society. Terrorism is viewed as an
understandable reaction to American foreign policy. The new
anti-war protest march is both an illusion of and symbol of
achievement. Narcissistic protest marchers and speakers have
contributed nothing to meaningful discussion or to bringing the
Iraq War closer to resolution. So far, their only gain is T.V.
fame. There are losses, however, in terms of national unity
(whatever happened to United We Stand?) and global respect.
were extremist individuals and groups during the Vietnam era.
There were Marxists, anarchists, and those who railed against
so-called American imperialism. Most of these people eventually
became a part of mainstream America, perhaps as a positive
adjustment or perhaps in disenchantment. I daresay, however, that
the majority of Vietnam War protestors were youth who displayed
idealism and utopianism, as well as initiative and personal risk.
(This was also the era of the Peace Corps.) And although there
were occasions of chaos and looting, most blacks participated in
non-violent Civil Rights marches and wanted inclusion and
brotherhood. The march for equal application of Constitutional
rights was often rooted in spiritual values.
Even when contrasted
to the counter-cultural revolutionists of the 1960's, many Iraq
War protestors seem to be motivated by hatred, anger, blame, and
a general mental state which preceeding generations did not have.
Moreover, it seems they are often rewarded with sympathetic media
coverage. The source of their anger is found within their
personality, and this perhaps renders them even more glamorous and
appealing to news reporters. Political narcissists are not
reacting to personal experiences with education or employment
unfairness, and they are not intelligently disagreeing with the
Iraq War. They are psychologically fragmented by 9/11. They are
desperately trying to build a cohesive self through denial of the
extent and intent of terrorist activity and through emotional
attack on America.
can include a mixture of types of people. Some people involved in
the new anti-war movement may have heartfelt convictions and
thoughtful opinions to support their actions. And, some are
middle-aged and were also involved in the Vietnam War protests.
The middle-aged narcissists likely had narcissistic personality
traits back in the 1960's, too. Their impact must have been felt
and believed, but less clearly defined. One important difference
between any narcissistic impact during the Vietnam era and now, is
that the Vietnam War was contained while terrorism is global. If
narcissism trumps patriotism, then America becomes a dysfunctional
environment in which debate is undermined.
narcissistic segment of society is moving America from a nation of
hardy self-reliance to a nation of hardcore liberal conformity.
This is an obstruction to Americans who seek truth, facts, and
solutions. In the next essay, I will discuss how average
Americans can detect political narcissists, and make informed
political analyses and decisions. (Written 04/16/07: bibliography available.)
Until we meet