Re: Enlisting to Avoid the Draft & Being Drafted (Was: Summer of Love) -- multiple responses

Thu, 28 Aug 1997 16:32:33 EDT

Two pieces in the latest round of this interesting thread:

1. Henry Beigh says:
> It is very easy for those not involved directly to point their
>fingers and say "these are evil people".
2. Andi says:
>As a teenager, i wore a POW bracelet. I see no conflict with my anti-war
>sentiments then or now.

[ASIDE: I have never worn a POW bracelet, per se, because I see the POW/MIA
issue as a horrific example of the govt. and the Rt. Wing manipulating the pain
of families whose sons never returned, in order to direct public (and divert
vets') anger to/against Vietnam and Govt. "bureaucrats" & "bleeding hearts."
Please don't hear this as anti-vet! From what, I've read, I tend to buy Bruce
Franklin's argument on this issue. The effect of this is to prolong the pain &
suffering of these families who remain "unsure" about their loved ones' fates.
So, for that reason, I won't be a party to this manipulation.]

However, the more relevant issue here goes to the feelings Henry expressed,
and the sentiment behind Andi's comment. Henry, I hear your appreciation of
Joe MacDonald's sticking up for you vets; I mean I think I hear the feeling
behind it. But, as Andi's comment suggests, VERY FEW people --and NONE that I
know in the antiwar movement-- are even inclined to "point fingers and say
`these are evil people.' Please hear me on that! "Even" Miles, after his
initial comment triggered so many reactions, clarifies his view (which I tend
to agree with both logically and personally: (1) war is wrong - therefore (2)
leaders are wrong and (3) warriors are wrong-- but this is a very different
proposition from "blame" and "evil." I think Henry Kissinger is an evil
person. I certainly don't think any higher proportion of Vietnam vets are
"evil" than most other groupings that come to mind. And, none of us is
"pure," right? I mean who in the antiwar movement doesn't think he or she
could have done more to bring the war to an end?

So, how's Andi's comment relevant? My own take is that being antiwar springs
from a deep well-spring of compassion, and horror at seeing the suffering that,
in this case, my government inflicted on the people of Vietnam. I think that
very same well-spring of compassion has to be consistent, and thus I --and I'm
sure most antiwar people-- feel compassion for the guys who fought in the war;
for the impossible (non-military, really) fighting conditions they were put in,
for the degree to which many were "channeled" & manipulated by our society
towards the military and service in Vietnam, for the fact that, I know, many of
these guys didn't happen to have the luck of the draw that I had of going to
college and encountering a lot of questioning about the war & US policy & govt.
manipulation, etc. (as well as the example of other avenues to "serve" our
country) (as well as, for a time, the deferment of being a student --part of
the "channeling" after all).

So, Henry & other vets, I want to testify for a position an awful lot of
antiwar people felt at the time, acted on, and feel today: I have a lot of
respect for you guys, for your courage and your effort to hold onto your
humanity in nearly impossible conditions, etc. --even while I chose
differently and believe very strongly the war was a moral abomination. And,
in a way, we all lost some of our (in my/our case) "boyish" innocence --about
life, our country, etc.-- and, no doubt about it, that's a painful loss.

That's my two-bits,
Ted Morgan

Department of Political Science
Maginnes Hall #9
Lehigh University
Bethlehem, PA 18015
phone: (610) 758-3345
fax: (610) 758-6554