Peter Davis directed the brilliant 1974 documentary Hearts and Minds about the Vietnam conflict (I refuse to use the term ‘War’ as Congress has not declared war since WW2). This is a ‘must see’ for anyone who wishes to experience the ‘yin and yang’ of our involvement there. Equally evident to any viewer is how adept those who control our current empire are in gaining support for their phony endeavors abroad. Davis had so many interesting interviews with just about every type of American as to their views about Vietnam. He used actual film clips revealing our destruction of that once beautiful country… a country that many Americans today would fail to find on a World Atlas.There are two interesting and highly enlightening interviews that Davis conducted in the film, plus footage of a former POW returning to his hometown in New Jersey. Let’s begin with that one: Navy Lt. George Coker was filmed addressing an auditorium of elementary Catholic school kids. He made some interesting statements during his Q& A session with what looked like seven and eight-year-olds: “If you ever have to go to war, and unfortunately someday you WILL have to go to fight a war..” and when asked about what Vietnam looked like: ” … Vietnam was very pretty if it wasn’t for the people. The people over there are very backward and primitive and they make a mess of everything!” Great role model for young impressionable kids George, especially when you kept referring to the enemy as gooks.
David Emerson, father of a Navy pilot killed in Vietnam, seemed like a wonderful and soft-spoken guy. He reminded me of my Uncle Pasquale, who had that same sweetness about him. You know, not a bad bone in his body. Interviewed at home with his wife in 1973, Emerson had these beliefs: “There is NO sacrifice in vain…that is the price you pay for freedom… and it is the kind of risk that you take to preserve the kinds of ideals that we have.” When asked about the course we had been taking in Vietnam, Emerson said: “I think that you do rely on somebody like President Nixon for leadership, and I think his team of people with him are outstanding… To me, the leadership he has shown and the decisions that he has made are what I would expect from the president of this country, and the actions he has taken are the actions I would expect from the president of this country.” One would surmise that David Emerson was ‘out to lunch’ when Nixon did his Christmas carpet bombing in 1969, or when our pilots overwhelmed both the South and North Vietnamese people with incendiaries like Napalm… melting away the flesh like wax off of a candle!
Davis interviewed pilot Randy Floyd, who felt so ashamed of the murder and terror he caused innocent civilians that he broke down continually during the interview. After he composed himself Floyd made this key observation: “Americans have worked extremely hard NOT to see the criminality that their officials and their policymakers have exhibited.” How intuitive for not only 1974 Amerika, but for 2017 Amerika as well. Ever wonder how many fine and decent friends and neighbors of ours still hold this ‘My country right or wrong’ attitude? This empire is so adept at stirring up deep-seated patriotic passions in many of us… to the detriment of our moral compass! Since 9/11 our leaders have been given a ‘free pass’ by our embedded media and our citizenry. Phony wars and occupations with Good Kill drone missile attacks on innocent civilians using a hijacked flag and ‘Support our brave troops’ mantra have mesmerized many of us. If anyone really did ‘support’ our troops they would never have sent them overseas in the first place! Instead, we get every sporting event started with the honor guard, the giant flag across the field or arena and some ‘God bless Amerika’ claptrap.
Ask Vietnam vets like Randy Floyd if God blessed Amerika during the Vietnam disgrace, and ask the same of Iraq Veterans for Peace if God blesses our jackboot in the Middle East now. Sadly, regardless of whether Clinton or Trump won the last election, this obscene military spending will continue as will our empire being all over the globe. This intentional use of the words ‘heroes’ and ‘warriors’ to describe our current military personnel is an affront to all those brave young men and women who gave their lives in WW2 to stop the Axis juggernaut. To label the unfortunate parents of our dead soldiers as ‘Gold Star’ is another bitter taste of propaganda to justify the evil that our empire is doing. As with the needless sacrifice of our young Amerikans during Vietnam, ditto for the use of them again in these Middle Eastern ‘phony wars’. It is time for the real patriots to win back the Hearts and Minds of our own people and say ‘Enough is enough!