> From: William Mandel <email@example.com>
> Subject: Re: [sixties-l] Vietnam Memorial and flags
> And what was/is your attitude toward the Korean War, in which the
> Air Force killed about two million Koreans?
> William Mandel
> Carrol Cox wrote:
What *is* my attitude? Exactly the same as yours.
To give a peek at what my attitude *was*: When I first began objecting
to the war in Vietnam, one of my *initial* arguments (it took about six
months to get beyond that) was to *contrast* it to the Korean War which,
I said then, was o.k.
I asked in the post you quote if anyone knew anyone with my particular
political curve. So far no one has given an example, so it looks as though
I'm one of the few people who shares your politics now but can tell you
what it felt like to be quite indifferent to your politics at the time HUAC
was trying to screw you. And *indifference*, not hostility, is the precise
word here, for it was the indifference of people like me, not the positive
hostility of the mob, that in the 1940s and 1950s gave the likes of HUAC
their power. I had utter contempt for both HUAC & McCarthy -- and
I didn't lift a finger to give that contempt political weight. I also remember
with equal portions of glee and acute embarassment (one reinforcing the
other) a bizarre bar conversation I and three other U. of Mich. grad
students had with a female grad student back in the spring of '59. She
took the eminently sensible position that, "What in the Hell would the
USSR *want* with the U.S.?" and the four of us ganged up on her.
Three of us were (non-combat) Korean vets, one had been with the
artillery in Korea.
Concerning the flag. I think a good way to view the debate is to
consider what the U.S looks like from inside, and what it looks
like from the viewpoint of the rest of the world. From *inside*,
the U.S. (at least for most of its population) is rather better than
was Hitler's Germany for the mass of the Germans. But from
the *outside* the U.S. today is a far greater menace to the very
survival of the human species than Hitler had ever been. Now the
Germans didn't have the freedom to oppose what their flag
stood for -- we do. So those of us who *know* what the U.S.
flag represents -- genocide and horror -- have an obligation to
make that knowledge known. So we should not in any way
honor that (in the words of e.e. cummings's Olaf) f.ing flag.
But somehow I think we have to do it with launching moral
attacks on that majority of our fellow citizens who don't (yet)
agree with us. So while I am quite opposed to Joe Mcdonald's
position that we should somehow honor that flag, I think in
figuring out how to disohonor it we have to take into account
the everyday response to it of our fellow citizens.
Most people have a fairly jumbled consciousness. I know a
former marine reservist who was called to active duty during
the Gulf War. About half of his platoon agreed among themselves
that they wouldn't stick their necks out to object to that war,
they'd be damned if they would ever fight against peasants in
Latin America. Political resistance has to take such jumbled
responses into account, or it becomes mere grandstanding.
My objections to moralism is that it is all too often mere
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