The Other Side of the 1960s or "This Is My Country and I Know that I'm RIGHT"

Randall Stephens

There was another side of the turbulent 1960s and 70s era. New conservatism and membership in the Young American for Freedom gained steadily after 1964. The "silent majority" became a slogan for all those Americans who had enough of tear gas, long hair, and endless protests. Yet in the popular imagination this seldom registers. Host a 1960s party and see who comes dressed up as a John Bircher. Who else will arrive sporting beehive wigs and flattops and carrying "Get US Out of the UN" signs or wearing "AUH20" buttons. The popular history of the sixties, still, has probably been told too often in a prescriptive rather than a descriptive fashion. Even historians perhaps have sided with the young marchers who shook their fists at "the man."

However, recent trends in history are starting to change these perceptions and the way of telling the story of the 1960s and 70s. See for example the insightful books that have appeared in recent years on grassroots conservatism, the rise of the new right, and evangelical conservatism:

Darren Dochuk, From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism (W. W. Norton, 2010)

Jefferson R. Cowie, Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class (2010)

Daniel Williams, God's Own Party: The Making of the
Christian Right (Oxford, 2010)

Lisa McGirr, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New
American Right (Princeton, 2002)

Kevin M. Kruse, White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism (Princeton, 2007)

Matthew D. Lassiter, The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South (Princeton, 2007)

Bruce J. Schulman and Julian E. Zelizer, eds., Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s (Harvard, 2008)

Joseph Crespino, In Search of Another Country: Mississippi and the Conservative Counterrevolution (Princeton, 2009)

Kim Phillips-Fein, Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan (W. W. Norton, 2009)

David T. Courtwright, No Right Turn: Conservative Politics in a Liberal America (Harvard, 2010)

Donald T. Critchlow, The Conservative Ascendancy: How the GOP Right Made Political History (Harvard, 2007)

I've been tooling around with the idea of making a compilation of conservative country/folk songs, sorta anti-protest numbers, that express the other, fightin' side of the 1960s and 1970s. The criteria does not have to do with the quality of the music, but with the tone of the message. Do the lyrics call for flag-waving, god-fearing, patriotism and support for the local
police? Does the singer lament the state of America's cities and shout down the feral hippies running shoeless through the streets clutching their bongs and incense sticks? Long, long before the Tea Party raised its collective complaint and before Lee Greenwood made grammarians sick with lines like "And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free," others were charting out a conservative protest genre.

So, here's what I've got so far. (Thanks to Scott Hovey for some wonderful suggestions). This is only a start! There's so much more out there.

Merle Haggard - The Fightin' Side Of Me (1968)

Merle Haggard - Okie from Muskogee (1969)

Jimmy D Bennett - Sapadelic (197?)

Don Hinson - The Protest Singer (197?)

The Goldwaters - Down in Havana (1964)

Up with People - Which Way America? (1966)

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama (1974)

Robin Moore and Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler - The Ballad of The Green Berets (1966)