[sixties-l] Fwd: Veritas and Vietnam

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: 12/21/00

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    >Veritas and Vietnam
    >Gore president of Harvard?  What will the antiwar protesters do?
    >BY SETH LIPSKY, Wall Street Journal
    >Thursday, December 21, 2000
    >A rare uncomfortable moment in my long love affair with Harvard
    >occurred at the 25th reunion of my class.
    >A "teach-in" had been assembled to talk about Vietnam from the
    >perspective of a generation.  A veteran of the war, I'd been
    >invited to speak but had demurred.
    >Five classmates spoke of their experiences during the war and the
    >struggle against it.  One, Peter Francis Hagerty, told how he
    >found himself on a destroyer headed for the Gulf of Tonkin and
    >refused an order to declare his vessel combat-ready.  He was
    >threatened with court-martial, but the Navy "backed down," as he
    >also put it in a written entry in the class report, "when faced
    >with the prospect of an Ivy League Officer rotting in their
    >Less than a year later, he told us, the ship blew up her forward
    >gun mount, killing or blinding many of the crew.
    >After the Navy, he went to Vietnam to help a left-wing legal
    >defense team for GIs.  While visiting a pagoda in the Mekong
    >Delta, he encountered a Viet Cong patrol.  He said he spent hours
    >talking to them about baseball and girlfriends.  Later, he
    >founded a company called Soviet American Woollens, to trade with
    >the Russians.  Now, he told the reunion with what I took to be a
    >tone of irony, he was forming a company to trade with that other
    >enemy of America, the Palestinian Arabs.
    >When this was greeted with an ovation, I walked out.  I left the
    >building and stepped into the sunshine.  My wife and son were
    >frolicking there.  I said I'd decided to go home, though the
    >reunion had just begun.  We held hands as we walked through
    >Harvard Yard to the Freshman Union, where we got a refund.  And
    >then we drove back to New York.
    >My reminiscence is prompted by reports that Al Gore has been
    >nominated to be Harvard's next president.  It's a long shot, to
    >be sure.  There are already 500 nominees.  Mr.  Gore is a
    >distinguished graduate and a former Harvard Overseer.  But the
    >Boston Globe quotes a senior fellow of the Harvard Corp., which
    >makes the decision, who says that while Mr. Gore will get serious
    >consideration, he lacks academic credentials.
    >Mr.  Gore's friend Martin Peretz, a member of the faculty and
    >editor-in-chief of The New Republic, tells me that there's
    >nothing serious to the news reports.  "The president of Harvard
    >is the emperor of Japan," he said, meaning that it is an
    >honorific post.  "The only thing you can do," he added, "is
    >mischief." To which I found myself thinking that one could say
    >that about the U.S.  vice presidency too--witness the Kyoto
    >Despite the temptation to crack wise, however, I find myself
    >thinking that there would be a certain logic to bringing Mr.
    >Gore in to even a ceremonial position at Harvard.  And it gets
    >back to my sentiments at that reunion.  I've found myself
    >thinking during this campaign that there is a fact about Mr. Gore
    >that I admire--his decision to throw off the perks of privilege
    >and enlist for Vietnam.
    >He and I were two of but a handful of Harvard guys from that
    >generation who made it a point to serve in Vietnam.  I've never
    >met Mr.  Gore.  He was class of '69, I of '68.  But we both went,
    >and were both Army journalists there, he for an Army engineering
    >command newspaper and I for the Pacific Stars and Stripes.
    >On election eve, he told the New York Times how Vietnam was much
    >more complicated than the antiwar movement made it out to be.  I
    >had hoped that he'd explain this in the campaign.  He could have
    >helped unravel the knot that has since bedeviled our foreign
    >policy.  It was but one of the opportunities he missed in the
    >election, but I can't help thinking how nice it would be if
    >someone in high office at Harvard could explain it to the
    >students there.
    >How fitting it would be if one of the handful who did go from
    >Harvard to Vietnam ended up as head there.  If, in the course of
    >things, Mr.  Gore were able to get it together for another run
    >for the White House, more power to him.  And if not, he'd still
    >be able to enter a room and have people call him president.
    >Mr.  Lipsky is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal.
    >His column appears Wednesdays.

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