Summer of 2020? or 68?

Throughout the semester, we’ve talked a lot about how history repeats itself. 1968 was a year undoubtedly characterized by civil conflict and violence, with every piece of literature, plays, and movies we watched affirming that. The release of the Netflix movie The Trial of the Chicago Seven, just a couple of weeks ago, brought the feelings of pain and injustice of the Vietnam War back into the forefront of discussion in the media. The scenes in the movie made it very difficult to distinguish the summer of 68 from the summer of 2020.

This summer, we saw the mass mobilization of people in streets across the country and the world, protesting racial injustice and police brutality in support of the BLM movement. Violent stand-offs between law enforcement and citizens. A looming presidential election that caused a divide between Red and Blue supporters. And, amid the prospects of political and cultural change, an inescapable pandemic: tens of thousands of Americans dead. The summer of 2020 was an unprecedented and historic one. But it is undeniable how similar it seems to the summer of 1968, with the looming presidential election of Johnson and Nixon. Instead of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tragedy that cost American lives was not the Vietnam War. Racism was also central to the protests, with MLK Jr. just being assassinated.

The parallels between the two years, over fifty years apart, is remarkable. Patrick first drew the connection between the Vietnam War in 68 and the COVID pandemic in 2020 being similar during class, and at first, the two did not seem closely linked at all. However, upon seeing the Trial of the Chicago 7 movie, it makes more sense. The unjust deaths of American soldiers in the Vietnam War were the forefront of the protests, and with thousands of Americans dying due to the pandemic, I think is only time before people begin to protest how the American government has handled it. These are unjust deaths as well, as we see countries across the globe who have successfully been able to control the pandemic to minimize deaths.

This semester could not have been a better time to take this class.

2 Replies to “Summer of 2020? or 68?”

  1. I agree that taking this class this semester was such a unique experience because we could compare so much of what we were reading and discussing in class to what we had personally experienced in 2020 so far. For me, this helped me understand and put so many more of the events into context and discussion because my personal experiences could help inform my knowledge. I think that we can gain much more knowledge and understanding when we are able to find connections between what we are experiencing and what others experienced in the past, and so having this class that was full of these connections was a really informative way to learn this point in time.

  2. I am glad you pointed out your furthered understanding of Patrick’s point in class. I also had not previously understood what he had meant by this but I now believe that both he and you are correct in saying that the reaction from the American public over these unjust deaths will almost certainly be reminiscent of the Vietnam War era. Additionally, I totally agree that this semester could not have been a better time to take this class; it has felt so much that we are currently reliving the events of ’68. To take such a close look at past civil unrest has provided much understanding of the current climate as well as some considerations as to what to expect in the near future.

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