[sixties-l] John Judge on Kerrey

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Sat May 05 2001 - 16:30:20 EDT

  • Next message: radman: "[sixties-l] Bob Kerrey's Nightmare Tells the Story of Vietnam"

    John Judge on Kerrey

    Wed, 2 May 2001


    The breaking of the story by Kerrey is causing a massive spin rush by
    the mainline media. They are acting outraged that anyone asked him
    hardball questions about keeping his medal, or investigating war crimes in
    Vietnam. They have stepped up with the usual cant about "old men
    hiding guns in their clothes" to completely justify anything Kerrey and his
    unit did, when even he realizes and admits it was wrong. "Don't worry about
    it buddy, they were just Gooks anyhow, and you were doing your sacred
    duty!" I wonder if anyone has compared all this to the recent flaps in
    German towns when anti-fascists have uncovered old war crimes, or even
    in France when the collaborationist issues were raised? Kerrey is
    obviously putting his own spin on a story of slaughter that was about
    to break anyway and forced his hand. But, the good thing is that if it
    had only come from his men it would have been ignored, when he 'fessed up,
    it opened the floodgates, at least potentially, for others to come forward.

    The deathly silence around these crimes, imposed in large part by
    non-veterans and the Pentagon dominated media, has taken an awful toll
    on veterans and citizens alike over these decades. These were not
    isolated incidents, this was a policy and a genocidal war. I recall a
    book that drew entirely on published press reports of the war, that
    compiled war crimes committed by the US, section by section from the
    international code. It should be Kissinger and the war planners
    answering these questions, not a second lieutenant. But the press
    wants to forgive Kerrey, even to the point of exonerating him for any excess,
    and the rest of us in the process, of course. They also want to put a
    lid on it. We should be working to keep the discourse alive, to invite
    veterans to speak finally about the horror they were part of, and to
    make America face its unassessed crimes of genocide, ecocide and
    ethnocide in Vietnam and since. This is the only way that veterans and
    Vietnamese can possibly heal, that the country can get past the walls
    of denial after all these years, and that there can be any hope to stop
    the continuation of such crimes in the future. Timothy McVeigh knew the
    irony of his use of "collateral damage" in relation to the deaths of
    children in the Murrah building in the Oklahoma City bombing, it
    is the sanitized term that the Army that trained him uses to denote
    civilian deaths that result from ostensibly military operations. We
    are no less callous. I still recall the Chaplain during the Gulf War who
    counseled an objector "Don't worry, son, the people you will be
    killing are not Christians". The Pentagon and the reactionaries still want the
    only moral issue around war to be whether a person submits and takes
    part in their "duty", certainly not the nature of the war or the
    killing that goes on. Our current military weapons and anti-personnel killing
    capacities make the Nazi Hohenzollern machine look like a rubber band
    affair, we have escalated genocide to a techno-art now. And yet the
    ghosts of Vietnam still linger, haunting us because we will not face
    them, and even Kerrey admits he still sees their faces, because
    veterans take the dead with them, a dirty little secret the Pentagon would
    rather not let out. The fellow veterans closed ranks around Kerry, protecting
    themselves from the condemnation that rests on all their shoulders,
    but that really belongs elsewhere. John Kerrey was an early leader in
    Vietnam Veterans against the War, though he was kicked out soon for his
    liberal politics by the other veterans. Coming Home to War by Nicosia is a
    recently released study about the GI and veteran resistance, and VVAW
    specifically. David Harris, the famous draft resister who was once
    married to Joan Baez, did a book a few years back called Our War, and
    was arguing that the discussion remained unfinished between veterans,
    non-veterans and resisters, and he called for forums then. And another
    book, Desertion in the Time of Vietnam, tells the personal tale of a
    GI who went to Canada and his friends who were killed and shattered by
    the war. If we are ever to have any hope of healing the moral cancer
    Vietnam created, it has to be faced now, and Kerrey has given us a crack in the
    door if we take it. We live in a country where some still hate a "draft
    dodger" more than a war criminal. I keep thinking of Nazi Germany, I
    wonder why.

    John Judge <copa@tidalwave.net>

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat May 05 2001 - 17:52:09 EDT