Identity Politics in a Fractured Society

A timeline shows important events of the era. In 1968, Vietnamese are massacred at My Lai, and Richard Nixon is elected president; a photograph of My Lai victims is shown. In 1969, the Woodstock festival is held; a photograph of Swami Satchidananda and his followers on stage before a massive crowd at the Woodstock opening ceremony is shown. In 1970, the National Guard fires on students at Kent State University. In 1972, Nixon goes to China; a photograph of Richard and Pat Nixon standing before the Great Wall with Chinese officials is shown. In 1973, Roe v. Wade legalizes abortion nationally, the Paris Peace Accords end the U.S. role in Vietnam, and OAPEC proclaims an oil embargo. In 1974, Nixon resigns due to the Watergate scandal; a photograph of Nixon’s departure from the White House is shown. In 1976, Jimmy Carter is elected president; a photograph of Jimmy Carter is shown. In 1978, the Camp David Accords are signed; a photograph of Menachem Begin, Jimmy Carter, and Anwar Sadat is shown. In 1979, Iranian protestors storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and take hostages.

The political divisions that plagued the United States in the 1960s were reflected in the rise of identity politics in the 1970s. As people lost hope of reuniting as a society with common interests and goals, many focused on issues of significance to the subgroups to which they belonged, based on culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and religion.