Protest: The Banners of Dissent

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The oddly costumed pair was arrested for "littering" and haled before a General Services Administrator. They asked for a permit to levitate the Pentagon 300 feet off the ground, explaining that by chanting ancient Aramaic exorcism rites while standing in a circle around the building, they could get it to rise into the air, turn orange and vibrate until all evil emissions had fled. The war would end forthwith. The administrator graciously gave his permission for them to raise the building a maximum of 10 feet, and dismissed the charges against the hippies.

Fearful that forces guarding the Pentagon would spray them with Mace, the hippies concocted a counterspray called lysergic acid crypto ethylene (LACE). Purportedly a purplish aphrodisiac brewed by the flipped-out pharmacist of hippiedom, Augustus Owsley Stanley III, LACE "makes you want to take off your clothes, kiss people and make love." Other hippie plots included jamming gun barrels with flowers and an attempt to "kidnap L.B.J. while wrestling him to the ground and pulling his pants off. We will attack with noisemakers, water pistols, marbles, bubble-gum wrappers and bazookas. Sorcerers, swamis, priests, warlocks, rabbis, gurus, witches, alchemists, speed freaks and other holy men will join hands and everyone will scream 'Vote for me!' " Alas, L.B.J. rarely visits the Pentagon.

New Friends. The lighthearted surrealism of the hippie approach was soon short-circuited by the hard-line elements. Hanoi was quick to capitalize on the latter's efforts. Even before the march began, the Viet Cong's "Liberation Press Agency" announced the formation of a "South Viet Nam People's Committee for Solidarity with the American People." Its aim: to cheer on the dissenters and encourage desertion among American and South Vietnamese troops. Said a message to the Mob from North Vietnamese Premier Pham Van Dong: "The Vietnamese people thank their friends in America and wish them great success in their mounting movement."

For all the sound and fury, the antiwar spectaculars were a remarkable— if little noted—tribute to the vitality and viability of American society. Through all the weeks of negotiations between the manipulators of dissent and the federal Establishment over permits to demonstrate and the designation of parade routes, the U.S. Government never once challenged the marchers' right to present themselves and their case in Washington.

Though Lyndon Johnson realized only too well that Communist and anti-American propagandists would exploit such disorders to the last bleeding scalp, the President himself insisted that the marchers be given the greatest possible latitude, short of disrupting the life of the city or the conduct of Government. Dean Rusk, whose State Department intelligence apparatus had long since assessed the degree and role of Communist influence within the antiwar movement, said earlier this month that "we haven't made public the extent of our knowledge" for fear of setting off "a new McCarthyism."

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