Monday, May 02, 2005

Awwww Crap! It's Back

The Boston Post is, once again, airing the patently false claim by Jerry Lembcke that the "soldiers were spat upon when they returned from Vietnam" story is a myth.

STORIES ABOUT spat-upon Vietnam veterans are like mercury: Smash one and six more appear. It's hard to say where they come from. For a book I wrote in 1998 I looked back to the time when the spit was supposedly flying, the late 1960s and early 1970s. I found nothing. No news reports or even claims that someone was being spat on.

Mr. Lembcke's myth is a myth. Did you ever try, maybe, talking to a soldier from that time period? Maybe the reporters, who opposed the war, weren't reporting on this at that time?

What I did find is that around 1980, scores of Vietnam-generation men were saying they were greeted by spitters when they came home from Vietnam. There is an element of urban legend in the stories in that their point of origin in time and place is obscure, and, yet, they have very similar details.

Ok, it's an urban legend because they all sound similar? How many different ways are there to be spat upon? This isn't the story of a friend who's brother's friend's uncle was at "lover's lane" and found the murderer's hook when he got home from groping his girlfriend. One issue with the urban legend is that it happens to someone else. I KNOW soldiers from the Vietnam era who tell numerous stories of being spat on. Not all of them went to Vietnam. They were spat upon for wearing the uniform in public. The lies go on though.

Like many stories of the spat-upon veteran genre, Smith's lacks credulity. GIs landed at military airbases, not civilian airports, and protesters could not have gotten onto the bases and anywhere near deplaning troops. There may have been exceptions, of course, but in those cases how would protesters have known in advance that a plane was being diverted to a civilian site?

Bzzzzzzt, thank you for playing. The military then, as now, frequently employs chartered civilian airlines to transport troops. Most of these flights originate and arrive at the same airports. It would be easy for protesters to find out which flights troops were on, as it is today when supporters greet flights of troops returning from Iraq. Not to mention that you don't have to have an organized protest to spit on troops.

The persistence of spat-upon Vietnam veteran stories suggests that they continue to fill a need in American culture. The image of spat-upon veterans is the icon through which many people remember the loss of the war, the centerpiece of a betrayal narrative that understands the war to have been lost because of treason on the home front. Jane Fonda's noisiest detractors insist she should have been prosecuted for giving aid and comfort to the enemy, in conformity with the law of the land.

That's because the war was lost on the homefront by people giving aid and comfort to the enemy. From a military stand point, the war was a victory. The U.S. military won the majority of engagements. The Tet offensive, which is portrayed by the media is the breaking point for the U.S. in reality broke the NVA and Viet Cong. And, despite the media claims, we hadn't lost the "hearts and minds" of the Vietnamese people. Just look at the people who fled the communists after the U.S. politicians abandoned them.

For the rest of the article, Lembcke engages in some psychoanalysis psychobable nonsense. This is wishful thinking on the part of liberals from the time period. By trying to revise history, repressing the memories of spiting on our troops, denying their own betrayal of their friends and family, they can live with their damaged conscience. The fact is, Jane Fonda did go to North Vietnam. Her and John Kerry's words were used to demoralize our troops. Protesters did spit on veterans returning home from the war.