Re: Rockets Red Glare

Maggie Jaffe (
Thu, 18 Apr 1996 18:26:09 -0400

Dear Sixties People:

Ted Morgan rightly said:

>And, as I pointed out in an earlier post, the vast majority of the American
public did not support the Gulf War until the missiles started firing and the
mass media performed as a chorus of cheer-leaders.>

During the Gulf War, my friend went back to England to visit her family.
As a naturalized citizen of the US, she watched with horror the nightly
reports of US citizens cheering the start of the war. I saw exactly the
same thing on our media: British citizens overwhelmingly in favor of the
war. Furthermore, during the Gulf War, thousands pledged to resist the war
by amassing in Balboa Park, in San Diego, a favorite tourist spot. The
local media consistently under reported the number of resisters; instead,
they showed the pro-war forces on the nightly news. I know for a fact that
this served to deter many resisters from going into the park for fear of
confronting the more belligerent pro-war people. Nevertheless, media
reportage during the Viet Nam war was not considerably more accurate. In
spite of Viet Nam's claim as the first television war, "content analyses of
network news program reveal that American audiences rarely saw the
suffering of soldiers in the field. Most often, audiences saw the movement
of soldiers as they jumped off helicopters in secured landing zones"
(Haines, Harry W. "'They Were Called and They Went': The Political
Rehabilitation of the Vietnam Veteran." *From Hanoi to Hollywood: The
Vietnam War in American Film*. p. 92).

During the Gulf War, there was plenty of paranoia to go around. On the day
the bombing started, the campus at San Diego State University received a
bomb threat. I was teaching an English course at that time. Actually, I
just got through showing Peter Davis's * Hearts and Minds*, which, not
surprisingly, affected the students more than in previous classes. When I
found out about the bomb threat, I warned the students to get off the
campus for the day. Of course, I did the same. San Diego was also sealed
off from Mexico when the war started. Were we in danger of Iraq's "elite
forces" crossing the border into the US? And the Coronado Bridge was
closed as well, sealing off the Naval Base--at least I think that was the
purpose for closing the bridge.

Finally, President Bush assured the American public that our "victory" in
the Persian Gulf assumes that, "by God, we kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once
and for all." For Bush, the "Vietnam Syndrome" was another form of
addiction, along with heroin, cocaine, TV and junk food.