Friday, September 03, 2004

Denying Facts and Embracing Myths: Vietnam War Crimes and Tales about "Vietnam Vets Getting Spit On"
Doug Harper, David Duff, Ralph Peters and others hellbent on getting it wrong

Ralph Peters is either extremely ignorant or a total asshole because he writes, "John Kerry made his most disgraceful speech since he lied about atrocities to Congress three decades ago."
Ralph! Kerry did not lie, the atrocities happened, they were admitted to by Vietnam vets and some have even been documented by the US Army. What kind of asshole denies these facts? Ralph is a clown, you can't take what he writes seriously. He writes that Kerry was "making promises he doesn't mean", what the hell is this based on? Is it hard to believe a Vietnam vet is willing to push for their rights? Ralph ignores the fact that Kerry has shown concern for Vietnam vets in the past too.

Ralph Peters first question is outrageous, he asks "Sen. Kerry, will you admit that you lied to Congress and the American people when you stated that our troops routinely committed atrocities, and that rape, torture and murder were sanctioned by our military chain of command?"
No Ralph, because he didn't lie in his testimony and he didn't say "routinely." in fact he said "at times." Ralph ignores Kerry's testimony. He ignores Kerry's concern for his fellow soldiers, "We found also that all too often American men were dying in those rice paddies for want of support from their allies."

Ralph Peters is a shameless denier. He denies what the US Army themselves have documented. He denies what other Vietnam vets have stated. He denies what Vietnam vets like former US Army journalist Dennis Stout and former US medic Rion Causey have had the courage to say. And mainstream media has created an environment where deniers like Ralph Peters thrive. The Toledo Blade's report should have gotten more coverage and the recent military inestigation should have gotten more coverage:
Report: Army to Interview Vietnam Platoon
TOLEDO, Ohio, Feb. 15, 2004 (AP) — Military investigators will interview former members of an elite Army platoon accused of killing unarmed Vietnamese civilians in 1967, according to a newspaper report. Investigators are expected to take statements from a former Army journalist, Dennis Stout, and a former Tiger Force medic, Rion Causey, both witnesses to the reported atrocities, The Blade said.

Mr. Stout and Mr. Causey told the newspaper they were surprised when they were contacted last week by an Army investigator. "I've waited years to talk to them," Mr. Stout, 58, said. "I saw people killed who didn't deserve to die." Mr. Causey, 56, said he was prepared to talk about attacks on villagers.

Are people like Doug Harper, David Duff and Ralph Peters ignorant about the Vietnam war crimes because the mainstream media has done an extremely poor job reporting the facts? I think that must be part of the problem, it is crazy how people deny that crimes took place by insisting that Kerry "lied". It is shameful how the media has refused to deal with the facts. US journalists have been noticeably reluctant to report about war crimes when they are committed by US troops. See: Press Watch

Many vets have stated that they witnessed atrocities committed by US troops in Vietnam. The Toledo Blade reported witnesses include former Army journalist Dennis Stout who has stated that he witnessed US troops killing unarmed civilians in Vietnam. Former medic Rion Causey said officers systematically ordered the platoon to kill all males in part of Quang Nam province. Also see: Massacre story needs to be told
Toledo Blade Report on Vietnam War "Tiger Force" Atrocity Is Only the Beginning
On October 19, 2003, the Ohio-based newspaper the Toledo Blade launched a four-day series of investigative reports exposing a string of atrocities by an elite, volunteer, 45-man "Tiger Force" unit of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division over the course of seven months in 1967. The Blade goes on to state that in 1971 the Army began a 4.5 year investigation of the alleged torture of prisoners, rapes of civilian women, the mutilation of bodies and killing of anywhere from nine to well over one hundred unarmed civilians, among other acts. The articles further report that the Army's inquiry concluded that 18 U.S. soldiers committed war crimes ranging from murder and assault to dereliction of duty.

"In fact, while most atrocities were likely never chronicled or reported, the archival record is still rife with incidents analogous to those profiled in the Blade articles, including the following atrocities chronicled in formerly classified Army documents:

* A November 1966 incident in which an officer in the Army's Fourth Infantry Division, severed an ear from a Vietnamese corpse and affixed it to the radio antenna of a jeep as an ornament. The officer was given a non-judicial punishment and a letter of reprimand.

* An August 1967 atrocity in which a 13-year-old Vietnamese child was raped by American MI interrogator of the Army's 196th Infantry Brigade. The soldier was convicted only of indecent acts with a child and assault. He served seven months and sixteen days for his crime.

* A September 1967 incident in which an American sergeant killed two Vietnamese children -- executing one at point blank range with a bullet to the head. Tried by general court martial in 1970, the sergeant pleaded guilty to, and was found guilty of, unpremeditated murder. He was, however, sentenced to no punishment.

* An atrocity that took place on February 4, 1968, just over a month before the My Lai massacre, in the same province by a man from the same division (Americal). The soldier admitted to his commanding officer and other men of his unit that he gunned down three civilians as they worked in a field. A CID investigation substantiated his confession and charges of premeditated murder were preferred against him. The soldier requested a discharge, which was granted by the commanding general of the Americal Division, in lieu of court martial proceedings.

* A series of atrocities similar to, and occurring the same year as, the "Tiger Force" war crimes in which one unit allegedly engaged in an orgy of murder, rape and mutilation, over the course of several months" see The Tip of the Iceberg

UPDATE: For more documentation of the atrocities see: The Village Voice: Features: Swift Boat Swill by Nicholas Turse

Doug Harper and Ralph Peters seem determined to get everything wrong. Doug Harper gleefully quotes from Ralph Peters' shit article "VETS FOR SALE?":
"The only veterans' benefit young John Kerry fought for was the right of vets to be spit upon in public." Not only is that a fucked up thing to claim about Kerry, the "vets were spit on" thing turns out to be a big lie! Basically it is a sick myth created by sick minds.

Jerry Lembcke, a Vietnam vet himself, exposed the "Vietnam vets were spit on" claim as a myth in his 1998 book The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam. Lembcke, a professor of sociology at Holy Cross and a Vietnam vet, investigated hundreds of claims about antiwar activists spitting on vets and found none of them credible. coverIn his investigations, Lembcke uncovered something very interesting: press accounts exist from the time about antiwar protesters getting spit on by pro-Vietnam counterprotesters yet he found no press accounts from the Vietnam years that actually mentioned the claim we hear today, that "vets were spit on by anti-war protesters." Jack Shafer of Slate points out that Lembcke did find published accounts of antiwar protesters on the receiving end of a spit from a pro-Vietnam counterprotester, "Surely, he contends, the news pages would have given equal treatment to a story about serviceman getting the treatment. Then why no stories in the newspaper morgues, he asks?" Shafer also notes, "there are the parts of the spitting story up that don't add up. Why does it always end with the protester spitting and the serviceman walking off in shame? Most servicemen would have given the spitters a mouthful of bloody Chiclets instead of turning the other cheek like Christ. At the very least, wouldn't the altercations have resulted in assault and battery charges and produced a paper trail retrievable across the decades?"

The basic premise of these "vets were spit on" stories is hard to swallow. Spit on a soldier and risk him kicking your ass? Give me a break! Another person pokes holes in the "Vietnam vets were spit on" claim:
"During Gulf War I, I heard an interview with Barabara Ehrenreich on NPR. She mentioned that she was intrigued by the trope of Vietnam vets getting spit on and had her research staff comb national news papers of the time to document incidences of this happening. The only one they found, Ehrenreich said, is when Ron Kovac (of Vietnam Vets Against the War) was spit upon in Dallas by a woman at the Republican National Convention." - Stefanie Murray

Jerry Lembcke has written, "It appears, in fact, that around 1980 stories of spat-upon veterans begin to percolate more or less spontaneously" "During the 1980s these stories began to proliferate, which prompted Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene to ask Vietnam veterans to send him their stories of being spat on."

Here is one of those submitted that Greene published: "My flight came in at San Francisco airport and I was spat upon three times: by hippies, by a man in a leisure suit, and by a sweet little old lady who informed me I was an 'Army Asshole.'"

Lembcke observes, "Besides the fact that no returning soldiers landed at San Francisco Airport, I find it hard to believe that the same veteran was spat on three times in one pass through the airport." Lembcke points out, "I cannot, of course, prove to anyone's satisfaction that spitting incidents like these did not happen. Indeed, it seems likely to me that it probably did happen to some veteran, some time, some place. But while I cannot prove the negative, I can prove the positive: I can show what did happen during those years and that that historical record makes it highly unlikely that the alleged acts of spitting occurred in the number and manner that is now widely believed."

"The historical fact, I pointed out, is that the peace movement reached out to veterans as potential allies in a struggle against an unpopular war, while many veterans were joining the anti-war movement by the late 1960s. ... research done by other scholars that showed quite convincingly that acts of hostility against veterans by protesters were almost nonexistent. No researchers cited reports that veterans were spat on (Beamish, Molotch, and Flacks, 1995). I also found historical evidence for what I came to call 'grist' for the myth. There are newspaper reports, for example, of pro-war demonstrators spitting on anti-war activists" -Jerry Lembcke

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How can you say " no flights came in at San Francisco airports" I came home from Vietnam, in 1968, landing in Washington State and then after being discharged took a plane to Los Angeles still wearing my uniform and then a few days later flew, again in uniform, home to New Jersey. GI's were flying all over the world then as now. This gentlemen definately could have flown into San Francisco after returning from Vietnam and your denying that to support your position clarifies the negative bias in your total report.