The New York Times has a news article today that's ostensibly about concerns the Pentagon is engaged in historical revisionism in a recent attempt to honor Vietnam veterans. Any legitimate concerns, however, are outweighed by the fact the article gives a prominent megaphone to radical liberal activists whose opinions on how Vietnam vets should be honored are dubious at best. Here's how the article begins:
WASHINGTON — It has been nearly half a century since a young antiwar protester named Tom Hayden traveled to Hanoi to investigate President Lyndon B. Johnson’s claims that the United States was not bombing civilians in Vietnam. Mr. Hayden saw destroyed villages and came away, he says, “pretty wounded by the pattern of deception.”
Now the Pentagon — run by a Vietnam veteran, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — is planning a 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War. The effort, which is expected to cost taxpayers nearly $15 million by the end of this fiscal year, is intended to honor veterans and, its website says, “provide the American public with historically accurate materials” suitable for use in schools.
Tom Hayden? As in, Jane Fonda's ex-husband Tom Hayden? You would be hard pressed to find anyone less qualified—and more offensive to veterans—to comment on this matter. When you start listing the others objecting to the Pentagon's efforts it starts to seem like a bunch of liberal activists launching a peacenik nostalgia reunion tour:
The glossy view of history has now prompted more than 500 scholars, veterans and activists — including the civil rights leader Julian Bond; Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the top-secret Pentagon Papers; Lawrence J. Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan; and Peter Yarrow of the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary — to join Mr. Hayden in demanding the ability to correct the Pentagon’s version of history and a place for the old antiwar activists in the anniversary events.
Clearly, this group of activists is approaching the issue from a very left-wing perspective. Ellsberg's historical significance is undeniable, but since the release of the Pentagon Papers he's been alligned with a lot of far-left groups such as the "Campaign for Peace and Democracy," which is also supported by the likes of Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. Simply saying Korb was an "assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan" is flat out misleading. It makes it sound like the group has a bipartisan tinge, when Korb is currently a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, the most prominent progressive think tank in Washington. Finally, Peter Yarrow? Aside from being an aging baladeer, I don't grasp what weight his opinion carries here. (And I can't help but feel the Times would fail to mention that Yarrow is a convicted sex offender if he weren't a beloved figure of the left.) When I suggested it was a nostalgia tour for anti-war activists, I wasn't kidding. The Times says as much:
The effort is also something of a reunion for the group. After scanning the list of signatories, Mr. Ellsberg, 83, exclaimed, “God, I’m glad they’re all alive!”
Further, many of the complaints seem minor or are in the process of being corrected:
The website’s “interactive timeline” omits the Fulbright hearings in the Senate, where in 1971 a disaffected young Vietnam veteran named John Kerry — now President Obama’s secretary of state — asked, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” In one early iteration, the website referred to the 1968 My Lai massacre, in which American troops killed hundreds of Vietnamese civilians, as the My Lai Incident. ...
The team has already changed some facts: After Nick Turse, the author of a book on Vietnam, noted the My Lai Incident reference in a February article on the website TomDispatch, the language was revised to read, “American Division Kills Hundreds of Vietnamese Citizens at My Lai.” It still does not use the word massacre.
Apart from the death of a journalist, no more poignant event is ever recorded in the media than the demise of a onetime “antiwar activist.” This was confirmed in the pages of the New York Times and Washington Post last week, where the passing in Budapest of Fred Branfman, 72, was duly noted.
Admiral Jeremiah Denton is dead at 89. Americans of a certain age will remember him, if not by name, then as the returning Vietnam POW who stepped off the plane at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines and concluded some remarks with the words, “God bless America.”
As Americans pause to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, they should not overlook the other fateful assassination that took place that same month. On November 2, 1963, South Vietnam’s President Ngo Dinh Diem was murdered in Saigon in a coup carried out by a group of generals operating with the tacit approval of the U.S. government.
As Congress moves ahead with the farm bill -- legislation that has historically been full of (figurative) pork -- there's one really obvious measure that needs to be eliminated. A new program that will require that catfish be monitored by the Department of Agriculture. Catfish, like all fish consumed by Americans, is already monitored by the Food and Drug Administration. Supposedly, this extra layer of regulation is a matter of food safety.
At Frontpage, Peter Collier has an excellent brief account of the life of Medal of Honor recipient Colonel George "Bud" Day, who died over the weekend at the age 88. I had the honor of meeting him a few times, and was struck by his modesty and affability. But many men are modest and affable. How many others have done what he did?
Fifty years ago this coming All Saints’ Day, the United States government concluded its patronage of Ngo Dinh Diem by dispatching him from the presidency of South Vietnam. His removal, in a U.S.-countenanced Vietnamese military coup, might have been less dramatic had President Diem not perished, with his brother and svengali Ngo Dinh Nhu, at the hands of junior Vietnamese officers entrusted with their safe exfiltration.
Nick Turse wants us to know that the killing of civilians during the war in Vietnam was “widespread, routine, and directly attributable to U.S. command policies,” that “gang rapes were a . . . common occurrence,” that the running-over of civilians by American vehicle drivers was “commonplace,” and that the American military visited upon South Vietnam an “endless slaughter . . . day after day, month after month . . .
The surprise of The Sapphires is how unpretentious and unportentous it is, considering that its plot hinges not only on racist Australian policy but also the Vietnam war. Based loosely on a true story, The Sapphires is about four aboriginal girls (ranging in age from 15 to mid-20s) who turn themselves into a girl group and go on tour in Vietnam in 1968 entertaining the troops.