Tuesday, August 24

Rude Pundit Goes to Vietnam

I always enjoy the way the Rude one throws it down.

And the type of slimeball politics, that the administration is playing by proxy, are knawing on a lot of old wounds. In the best of worlds this might be an opportunity ripe in healing power, an opportunity for us as a nation to come to terms with the damages inflicted upon our psyche by that war and it's aftermath. In the world we occupy, however, a world led by Smug Snarl and Smirk, they choose to poke a shitcovered stick into that wound, spread the infection, and tar their opponent with lies.

That they attempt to smear Kerry's war record in contrast to "I didn't want to blow my ear out with a shotgun", hardly bother to show up for training, while riding out the war in a champaign unit dilletante, demonstrates a hubris not to be trifled with. Let the Rude one have his day, and check out the rest of his work.
But let's get back to the issue at hand: why Vietnam? Well, the unspoken anxiety beneath all of this is the gut-wrenching, bowel-clenching fear and knowledge that, once more, we're into the breach with Iraq. That same horror is rising, a lot faster this time because of the "lessons" of Vietnam, that we are fighting for no good reason, and it's the nature of Americans to cling to their leaders like the starved children Ignorance and Want at the feet of the Ghost of Christmas Present. The violence against protesters during 'Nam was, in large measure, out of fear that they were right, that the government had lied and that thousands of soldiers died for that lie. In order to believe that, one had to overturn everything one had been taught about the innate goodness of America. Fuck, it's just easier to ignore it and spit on the protesters and say they deserve Kent State. Just like it's easier to beat up a homosexual than admit that you yourself are a fag.

We have to keep fighting over Vietnam because it's a way of projecting our fears about Iraq away from our current selves. Vietnam was a fucked-up, shitty goddamned war, a useless, murderous, maniacal policy pursuit that accomplished nothing but death, destruction, and dissent. People who volunteered to fight were suckered by the lies of the Johnson and Nixon administrations, that we were fighting some ultimate evil there before it made its way to our shores. The soldiers there committed atrocities, slaughtered innocents, and, yeah, all you John Fuckin' Waynes, shot people in the back. It was that kind of war, like every other kind of war, a degradation to humanity. The Swift Boat Vets have to condemn John Kerry because, in the end, he resisted that existential nausea of doing nothing when there is so much you can do. The Swift Boat Vets and the cowards in the Bush administration, many of whom supported the Vietnam war without firing a goddamn shot, have to cling to the myth that there was some good in fighting Vietnam because they have to cling to the myth that there's some good in fighting in Iraq. They have to believe it's good because America says it's good. Kerry embodies our national ambivalence about Vietnam and, indeed, about Iraq.

We are damned, yes we are, we are the condemned, because we forget the past, because we demand that the past be re-written, because if we don't fight the past, we have to justify our existence in the here and now. What horror that would be.