Sunday, May 01, 2005

EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG. A continuing Media Log series! Two op-eds about the Vietnam War this weekend have nothing in common except that they illustrate the dangers of believing the conventional wisdom.

On Saturday, Holy Cross professor Jerry Lembcke argued in the Boston Globe that the archetypal image of antiwar protesters spitting on soldiers as they were returning from Vietnam simply never happened. Lembcke, who has written a book on the subject, is utterly persuasive. At a minimum, the next time a journalist hears such a story, he or she should methodically ask questions about the timing, the place, and the circumstances. (I think they used to call that "who, what, when, where, why, and how.")

In today's New York Times, Stephen Morris, of Johns Hopkins University, writes that not only could the South Vietnamese government have been saved in 1975 with minimal US intervention - mainly air support - but that that's the outcome a majority of South Vietnamese citizens wanted. Morris's view strikes me as a selective reading of history, but it's thought-provoking nevertheless - especially with respect to his contention that the Soviets were less than thrilled with their Vietnamese allies.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wonder how long we'll have to wait to see if Dan delivers up his opinion on this nasty Bay Windows/Emily Rooney fracas.

Anonymous said...

When she failed to spring to the defense of "Bay Windows", I knew something was up. While many LGBT folks are parents, many more are not. There's not a lot of empathy with the parent who was hoping to delay slightly some of the more granular discussions about sexual mores and practices. Should all kids learn about sex in detail,ASAP? Obviously. But some folks are so self-absorbed that letting kids remain kids is relatively far down on their agenda. Personally, I would cut her some slack. If "Bay Windows" wants a fight, there are much better candidates than a suddenly-widowed woman who leans left .

Dan Kennedy said...

There is absolutely no point to my weighing in on the Bay Windows/Emily Rooney matter. Sometimes a person has so many conflicts that he just has to sit it out. Consider:

1. Susan Ryan-Vollmar, the editor of Bay Windows, is one of my best friends.

2. Kevin Sowyrda is someone I've known and liked for years - and, believe it or not, he is a distant relative of mine. (Okay, so distant that I had to explain it to him. But still.)

3. I depend on Emily Rooney and Greater Boston for income and exposure, and also like and respect Emily enormously.

Given all that, what can I do other than to stay out of this?

Steve said...

"It's the things you know that just aren't so..." - little infuriates me as much as the spreading of these false memes like "spitting on returning soldiers". As such, I applaud investigators like Lembcke, and it's good to see him get a forum.

Aaron Read said...

I dunno Dan, our good friend Rush had mighty harsh words for drug abusers of any kind for many years while he was one himself. You and I would call that "hypocrisy", but all hypocrisy really is, is a "conflict of interest" carried to an extreme. And Rush is heard by millions and makes millions for himself every year.

Anyways, quite often the conventional wisdom is wrong. Not long ago there was an article about "Air America" in Boston where it was reported that WKOX & WXKS are daytime-only signals. Huh? Granted neither has a very good signal after dark, and neither reaches Boston worth spit after dark, either. But they both pump out 1000 watts (directional) after dark and do cover decent population centers.

Anonymous said...

Some Courage, Dan

Come on, I know you have a friendship/professional conflict of interest here with all parties, but please at least show some decency and guts and just say " I may disagree with Emily on this one but I respect her view and position."

She is entitled to that isn't she???

Usually Emily is far out left and sometimes takes some positions that drive me crazy but I like her tremendously. I still admire her as well as yourself Dan, even if your far left stuff is driving me bananas.

Two of the nicest people on the Boston and national media scene.

What you Dan and a lot of your readers can't grasp or have respect for is that NOT everyone is OK with Gay lifestyle, or at least exposing children to it at a very early stage and in a ho-hum manner that tries to treat it as 'normal.'

It might be normal in Cambridge or Lexington or Boston or Mass or the East coast or the West coast but that in no way is an across the board endorsement, no matter how much that upsets you.

If you don't allow for time to heal rifts and biases in LGBT issues and try to force-feed this stuff to parents who don't want it, and that include democrats and republicans, northeners and southerners.

It was obvious in the way you were promoting Bay Windows and Vollmar the way you did when she started - and I called you on it back then- It was obvious that you really want to promote LGBT lifestyle as the norm and endoctrinate kids at a young stage.

This is detrimental to you, your readers, our education and our future. And the proof is that Democrats, much less liberals are not able to get elected. They lose election after election, even in Liberal Massachusetts. Two names for ya: Cheryl Fakes ooops Jacques seat and Mitt Romney's election.

Until you recognize other people's right to opinion and raising their kids the way they please, you will continue to be CLUELESS and on the fringe.

No one wants to see LGBT discriminated against, targeted or maligned and some of them want to raise children in safe and nurturing homes, then all the power to them. That is great. But don't try to push it down people's throats that consistently. LGBT try to come down on any so-called 'heteronormative' attitudes but however YOU or they hate it, it still takes a man and a woman (parts)to give birth to a child, whether in test tubes or in a traditional way. As much as you hate to be reminded of that fact, you need to get a grip.
There are so many decent people who would give their lives to defend LGBT rights and equity but still have their beliefs and turn-offs/turn-ons and you are creating a huge and unnecessary schism and division between much of state and national populations.
Enough with the mean name calling, racial baiting and a bit more respect and perspective.

It takes time for attitudes to change but if you rush that akwardly, it would backfire in an undesirable way.

James Mattoon Scott said...

The Soviets were more or less pulled into support on RNV for two main reasons:

First, at that time - early 1970s - things were more than touchy between USSR and China. Never forget China lost one million soldiers in a more than a decade of war with RNV. So, Ho pulled all stops in Moscow to assure supply lines continued unabated. Remember, RNV was supplied basically by sea, through Haiphong. US airmen were strongly cautioned about bombing/attacking USSR ships in harbor.

Second, some rightists In Kremlin saw support of RNV as tactical move to reduce US strength in Germany.

Anonymous said...

So who will explain what the Bay Windows/Emily Rooney matter is and how/why it crept into this thread?

AnthonyG said...

And again, no body count...

Stephen Morris omits what right-wing apologists always omit when publicly masturbating about the Viet Nam War: the body count.

By 1972, millions of innocent Vietnamese civilians had been killed, maimed, tortured, raped, orphaned and displaced; tens of thousands of US troops had been killed and wounded and tens of millions of dollars expended.

But trifles such as human lives are an insignificant backdrop to what haters like Morris prefer to discuss while sipping gin and tonics at the Yacht Club: the hypothetical geopolitical chess game that might-maybe-possibly-woulda-coulda justified their blinkered worldview.

For a real treat, read the Toledo Blade's Pulitzer Prize-winning expose of war crimes inflicted on civilians by the elite Tiger Force.

Or check the BBC's article yesterday on how Vietnamese peasants still suffer from the US military's chemical weapon attacks on some 10 percent of their country's land (not including napalm) to remove jungle cover and destroy arable farmland used by peasants.

Such consequences for real, live human beings are exactly the kind of thing that is utterly unimportant to ideologues like Morris.

Only a fascist --one whose evil mind sees human beings as little more than objects-- could imagine it an American "victory" if we somehow managed to forcibly install the South Vietnamese regime in place of the North after such carnage.

Morris practices the same racist ethnocentrism as the Bush Neo-Cons. They think Arabs, Muslims, Viet Namese, etc. are fundamentally stupid and weak, that after they have been tortured, raped, humiliated and terrorized, they will gratefully and willingly follow the instructions of their torturers and attackers without resistance --as if nothing ever happened.

Robert Mcnamera's lessons-learned from the Viet Nam War disaster are far more valuable than any drivel Morris has to offer.

Steve said...

Hey AnthonyG - why not put your stuff on your own blog, and post a squib and a link here on Dan's blog when it's relevant to something Dan posts? Your stuff is interesting, but if you put in your own space and enable comments, people could discuss your ideas there.

Not that your stuff isn't worth discussing, but it should be discussed in your space, not Dan's. Plus, your remarks are very decent blog entries in themselves, and shouldn't be relegated to a comments section.

If you need any help enabling comments on your blog, let me know here.

Dan Kennedy said...

Hey, Steve - I want a cut of any consulting fees generated by this!

AnthonyG said...

Steve -- I've been meaning to do just what you've suggested, but it's been so much fun poaching Media Log.

And even though Dan soon will trot off into the sunset of academia, it's important to have someone correcting him on-the-spot when he goes into Alan-Colmes-Progressive-Weakling-Thank-You-Sir-May-I-Have-Another-Mode. Besides, it's not like this forum is being overwhelmed with postings...

Cheers-- Tony

John Galt said...

The Sunset of Academia?

Hmm...

Anonymous said...

There is absolutely no point to my weighing in on the Bay Windows/Emily Rooney matter. Sometimes a person has so many conflicts that he just has to sit it out....

It's called "courage of your convictions" Dan. You took a pass.

Anonymous said...

The fracas is covered here:

http://www.baywindows.com/news/2005/04/28/OpinionColumns/Media.Watch-942166.shtml