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View Full Version : Oh, forget that whole "I served in Vietnam" bit


nikkibong
05-17-2010, 09:10 PM
Excellent reporting from the New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/18/nyregion/18blumenthal.html

Wonderment
05-17-2010, 09:31 PM
I have a dear friend who is a real Vietnam War veteran. We once went together to protest high school recruitment before the local school board. The right-wing extremist macho-man on the board was going on and on, running out the clock, about how "as a Vietnam veteran, I did this, and I believe that."

Afterwards, my friend told me, "You always have to call them on that bullshit. I've seen it 1000 times. This is why I always identify myself as a Vietnam COMBAT veteran."

It turns out a common line of B.S. is to claim (when pressed) to be a Vietnam era veteran, which depending on how you define an era can run from the Civil War to the Intergalactic War. This is the same exact trick Blumenthal tried:

“I served during the Vietnam era,” he said. “I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even physical abuse.”

Of course, the part about the taunts, insults and physical abuse is fictional as well.

Jyminee
05-17-2010, 09:50 PM
Can this finally put to rest the charge that the NYT is guilty of left-wing bias? They broke the Spitzer prostitution story, bringing down the Democratic governor of NY. Then they broke the story about Gov. Paterson covering up for his crony, ending his political career as well. Now they've probably mortally wounded the Dem Senate nominee from CT.

Can you imagine Fox News breaking such news about a Republican?

Wonderment
05-18-2010, 03:32 AM
Excellent reporting from the New York Times

Yes, but.... I wish responsible sources would not regurgitate the "We were spat upon" baloney, as the NYT did twice in this article.

For people who understand that the Big Spit is an urban legend, the article only reduces Blumenthal's credibility more, but unless you're a history buff you'd probably not know how disreputable the charge is and how deeply the legend took root in popular culture.

The Times should have said something like [my edit in bold]. "He said, ‘When we came back, we were spat on; we couldn’t wear our uniforms.’ Here Mr. Blumenthal refers to the widely discredited allegation that US servicemen were often subjected to assaults and ritual defilement when returning from Vietnam duty. No evidence of such assaults exists.

Whatfur
05-18-2010, 07:47 AM
He conjured up his service far more and more distinctly than what you quote (http://hotair.com/archives/2010/05/17/bombshell-democratic-senate-candidate-lied-about-serving-in-vietnam/).

kezboard
05-18-2010, 12:39 PM
That seems to be the ploy Joe Ellis (http://www.seattlepi.com/books/202551_ellis07.html) went for a few years ago. In his case, though, it was more baffling than anything else -- it isn't as if it helped his career as a historian or a professor to claim that he served in Vietnam, and it was easy enough for the Boston Globe to find out that he didn't. Even if Blumenthal never actually came out and said he was a Vietnam veteran, it's pretty clear that he was using the perception that he was to his political advantage. That's really disgusting. He should drop out.

Wonderment
05-18-2010, 02:58 PM
Even if Blumenthal never actually came out and said he was a Vietnam veteran, it's pretty clear that he was using the perception that he was to his political advantage. That's really disgusting. He should drop out.

Yes, the webs we weave. Wouldn't it be simpler to say, "Thank God I was so scared silly that I managed to dodge the enslavement of the draft and avoid risking my life, limbs and sanity in a stupid and evil war?"

I actually have some compassion for guys like Blumenthal. Despite what he claims, societal pressure was the opposite: "peaceniks" and "hippies" were the ones who were victims of gratuitous assaults by pro-war thugs, especially in rural areas of the country and especially in the early years of draft resistance. As always, during Vietnam Americans tended to glorify war and idol-worship its survivors. Blumenthal just wanted to taste some of that glory.

It's true that in the years after Vietnam service, as society began to notice that so many soldiers suffered from PTSD, which manifested as alchoholism, drug addiction, spousal abuse, violent crime, suicide, psychosis and homelessness -- the glory and glamor faded, and, tragically, the stereotype of the fucked-up Vietnam Vet emerged.

TwinSwords
05-18-2010, 03:53 PM
Despite what he claims, societal pressure was the opposite: "peaceniks" and "hippies" were the ones who were victims of gratuitous assaults by pro-war thugs, especially in rural areas of the country and especially in the early years of draft resistance. As always, during Vietnam Americans tended to glorify war and idol-worship its survivors.

Rick Perlstein, on the public response to the Kent State Massacre:

A respected lawyer told an Akron paper, “Frankly, if I’d been faced with the same situation and had a submachine gun . . . there probably would have been 140 of them dead.” People expressed disappointment that the rabble-rousing professors—the gurus—had escaped: “The only mistake they made was not to shoot all the students and then start in on the faculty.”

When it was established that none of the four victims were guardsmen, citizens greeted each other by flashing four fingers in the air (“The score is four / And next time more”). The Kent paper printed pages of letters for weeks, a community purgation: “Hurray! I shout for God and Country, recourse to justice under law, fifes, drums, marshal music, parades, ice cream cones—America—support it or leave it.” “Why do they allow these so-called educated punks, who apparently know only how to spell four-lettered words, to run loose on our campuses tearing down and destroying that which good men spent years building up? ...

Signed by one who was taught that ‘to educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.’” “I extend appreciation and whole-hearted support of the Guard of every state for their fine efforts in protecting citizens like me and our property.” “When is the long-suffering silent majority going to rise up?”

It was the advance guard of a national mood. A Gallup poll found 58 percent blamed the Kent students for their own deaths. Only 11 percent blamed the National Guard.

A rumor spread in Kent that Jeff Miller, whose head was blown off, was such a dirty hippie that they had to keep the ambulance door open on the way to the hospital for the smell. Another rumor was that five hundred Black Panthers were on their way from elsewhere in Ohio to lead a real riot; and that Allison Krause was “the campus whore” and found with hand grenades on her.

Many recalled the State of Ohio’s original intention for the land upon which Kent State was built: a lunatic asylum. President White was flooded with letters saying it was his fault for letting Jerry Rubin speak on campus. Students started talking about the “Easy Rider syndrome,” after the Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda movie about hippies murdered by vigilantes. Townspeople picketed memorial services. “The Kent State Four!” they chanted. “Should have studied more!”

“Anyone who appears on the streets of a city like Kent with long hair, dirty clothes, or barefooted deserves to be shot,” a Kent resident told a researcher.

“Have I your permission to quote that?”

“You sure do. It would have been better if the Guard had shot the whole lot of them that morning.”

“But you had three sons there.”

“If they didn’t do what the Guards told them, they should have been mowed down.”

A letter to Life later that summer read, “It was a valuable object lesson to homegrown advocates of anarchy and revolution, regardless of age.”

Time had called the Silent Majority “not so much shrill as perplexed,” possessed of “a civics-book sense of decency.” Pity poor Time, whose America was but a memory.

Copyright © 2008 by Rick Perlstein.