Friday, May 02, 2008


If we do not speak...
others will surely
rewrite the script.

Each...body bag...
all the mass graves
will be reopened...

their contents
abracadabraed into
a noble cause!

These linked haiku have been paraphrased, gently, from a statement by George Swiers, Vietnam Veteran, found on page 232 of Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. His original source was America In Vietnam.

Photo is famous one of girl who had torn off her napalmed burning clothing and was running from the burning village of her family.

to be the last man to die for a mistake?” —John Kerry

Man alive! Four-thousand and counting again have died for Bush’s mistake. How many more will the Neocon Fundamentalist Christian
Republican Party let die for their mistake?

Below is more information taken from that marvelous book, Lies My Teacher Told Me.

[The] entire civilian population was treated as the enemy. Such a strategy inevitably led to war crimes. Thus My Lai was not a minor event, unworthy of inclusion in a nation's history, but was important precisely because it was emblematic of much of what went wrong with the entire war in Vietnam. My Lai was the most famous instance of what John Kerry, formerly of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, now a U.S. senator, called “not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.” Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 1971, Kerry said, "Over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia." He went on to retell how American troops "had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam." All this was in addition to the normal ravage of war." Any photograph of an American soldier setting fire to a Vietnamese hootch (house), a common sight during the war, would get this point across, but no textbook uses any photograph of any wrongdoing by an American. Indeed, no [high school history] book includes any photograph of any destruction, even of legitimate targets, caused by our side. Only Discovering American History, an inquiry textbook, treats the My Lai massacre as anything but an isolated incident. In addition to leaving students ignorant of the history of the war, the silence of other textbooks on this matter also makes the antiwar movement incomprehensible. (pp.239-40 in Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen)

And how has our nation rewarded a man for telling the truth, for merely listing the facts? Other soldiers, rather than admitting to what they witnessed or did in Vietnam, reviled him for exposing American troop actions in country. And they helped deny him the Presidency of America. So much for being an honest and upright man in America. And, O, by the way, though I am a veteran myself who did not have to go to that war, I had and have many friends who were there and who wrote letters to me or shared with me in person to many of the details which Senator Kerry revealed in his testimony. So Kerry was telling the truth. Those who smeared him were a pack of lying cowards whether or not they served, and many of them did not.

Sadly, textbook authors also leave out all the memorable quotations of the era. Martin Luther King, Jr., the first major leader to come out against the war, opposed it in his trademark cadences: "We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops…. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men." No textbook quotes King. (p.241 in Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen)

So, if all such information has been kept from our children and grandchildren about this war is it any wonder that modern neocons (i.e. chickenhawks), again afoot in our land and making a terror of war, were able at first to stampede so many younger Americans into supporting Bush’s illegal invasion of a sovereign nation?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If accuracy is the goal, then it is necessary to understand what Senator Kerry was speaking to in his 1971 testimony.

First, as to war crimes, he was speaking to Geneva Convention violations such as burning crops and villages, and I believe free-fire zones. These tactics were found to be against Geneva Conventions, but most soldiers had no idea at the time.

Second, as to the Winter Soldier testimony, Senator Kerry specifically repeated what was told to him and said so at the time. It is a disservice to him, and to the Winter Soldiers, to claim that this is his personal witness. It isn't.

The most important lies the teachers have told, however, is in ommitting the millions of tons of bombs dropped in the region and the millions killed. The idea that we just didn't fight long enough, or hard enough, or in the right way, is what has kept us in Iraq and is the real danger of a John McCain Presidency.

“when small boys ask why, we will be able to say “Vietnam” and not mean a desert, not a filthy obscene memory but mean instead the place where America finally turned and where soldiers like us helped it in the turning.” John Kerry