Re: Sources: Sanitized/Repressed Vietnam [3 posts]
Sun, 4 Feb 1996 17:47:54 -0500



What a welcome surprise your email was for me. I'm in the midst of dealing
with V-WAR's response to my travelogue, which has been hostile in the
extreme, and your note came like a reality check, much needed. Thanks.

As for your query:

If you don't know Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery and Jonathan
Shay's Achilles in Vietnam, they are both great places to start. Kali's book
is probably out by now though I haven't got mine yet.

Hope that's a help. I certainly supprt your thesis and might have some
coherent thoughts on it later. Not now. Meanwhile, you might want to jump
on V-War for real-time examples of denial and repression.

Randy Fertel


I wonder if there might also have been some mythmaking within the antiwar
movement in the way in which the NLF and North Vietnamese were portrayed
in over idealized terms, while those Vietnamese who supported the
government of the South were also portrayed one dimensionally. After the
war ended hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese were shipped off to
reeducation camps and other fled on small boats in the South China Sea.
This was an issue that divided the antiwar movement at the time, as
witnessed by the debates over the open letters protesting repression in
Vietnam, published in Dec. 1976 and May 1979 respectively.

- Steve Denney


Ted: First, I think the fact that we don't glorify Vietnam
as a killing experience (for the most part) signifies our
doubt about its efficacious use of our nation's manpower and
money -- it didn't do for us what WWI, WWII or even the
Korean War did in terms of strenthening our ideological
bonds as a nation. I cannot speak to people's collective
memories of the war, but in the course of preparing a thesis
on Vietnam vet films, I had to be reminded about the Viet
Cong as another constructed enemy. The fact that there
never was a very strong image of the enemy (American vet
films never demonize the Vietnamese while the war is still
going on, at least in the films I've seen) is one of the
reasons why we all sense that Vietnam was a "failure" of
sorts. I applaud your efforts to chip away at our national
urge to deny our "dark" side.

Some early references that may be of interest to you:

"The Vietnam Veteran in Contemporary Society: Collected
Materials Pertaining to the Young Veterans" (1972).
Department of Medicine and Surgery, VA, Washington, D.C.

Source Material on the vietnam Era Veteran: Prepared by the
staff for the use of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs,
U.S. Senate," February 12, 1974.

Paul Starr's "The Discarded Army: Veterans After Vietnam:
The Nader Report on Vietnam Veterans and the VA" (1973) New
York: Charterhouse.

The sources contain some of the earliest work on PTSD, as
well as other early research and more popular articles from
newspapers and magazines of the time on Vietnam. Perhaps
these sources can help get at the heart of the denial issue.

Melinda Schwenk