Re: further thoughts on friendly fire (fwd)
Sat, 20 Jul 1996 22:56:10 -0400

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 1996 09:22:44 -0400
Subject: Re: further thoughts on friendly fire

Interested in Ben's comments re. "Courage Under Fire." His initial comment
left me wondering if this might not be a good movie for my propaganda class
(which has a unit on the gulf war) to see. But I'm not sure (not having seen
it yet!)

I really could connect with Ben's comment about teaching Vietnam here:

> Last year, I showed my comp students "Four
>Hours at My Lai" and assigned some essays on Vietnam. I was taken aback to
>hear more than a few say, "Yeah, ok, so we were Nazis at My Lai, but it's
>not for us to judge the actions of the soldiers--their behavior was a
>natural response to the insanity of the war and they had no choice." What
>about morality? "Morality and war are incompatible."
>I don't like to generalize about generations, but I do fear that cynicism
>about the government and despair about the possibilities for change have
>robbed these kids of the capacity to feel outrage.

I get reactions like that alot from students in my 60s class --after, for
example, watching the PBS segment on Vietnam titled "America Takes Charge"
which interviews both US & Vietnamese ("enemy") survivors of a typically
brutal village "pacification" and hearing from visiting vets who are
incredibly alive with the memories & poisons of the war and full of anger
at "the government" but supportive of the "purpose" of the war... Later
on, the students watch "Hearts & Minds" which is often taken as very
unfriendly to the GIs. [I also share with them my own antiwar experiences
and my view of the war as a fundamentally immoral and imperial American
assault.] I guess the best thing that comes from this is that they are
sensitized to the complexity of war, US policy, individual moral
action.... But I'm left with feelings rather like Ben's.

Ted Morgan