Re: [sixties-l] Vietnam memorial and flags

From: Carrol Cox (
Date: Mon Jun 26 2000 - 23:49:03 CUT

  • Next message: radman: "[sixties-l] Vietnam defectors were targeted for elimination" wrote:

    > From: William Mandel <>
    > 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) 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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