Skip to comments.Revolt of the Vietnam Veterans
Posted on 12/19/2004 7:08:43 AM PST by USMCVIETVET
The revolt of the Vietnam veterans
By Bruce Kesler December 19, 2004
By Bruce Kesler
Post mortems in the liberal press on the role that Vietnam veterans played in presidential candidate John Kerry's defeat mask the key role of the liberal press, which tried to suppress the vets' story and is distorting it now. I was there at the creation of a veterans group and all along, and know better. The American people deserve to know better too.
In 1971 I organized Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace. John O'Neill enlisted to counter the smears of American servicemen in Vietnam. No one else spoke up for us, so we had to. The mainstream press was more diverse than today and we got a spotty but honest hearing.
Kerry's light dimmed then. Americans got the message that a motley crew of exaggerators and frauds didn't speak for Vietnam veterans. We said our piece and went home, back to our diverse, nonpolitical lives.
Meanwhile, anti-Vietnam war protesters of the 1960s marched through academia and the media to claim its power as their own. In 2004, they fought to defend their self-image by defaming that of anti-Kerry Vietnam veterans.
In February 2004, anti-Kerry Vietnam veterans were shocked that he won the Democratic nomination. The mainstream media blessed this coronation. No one except Kerry and his advisers really wanted to revisit Vietnam, but they saw it as a way to appeal to anti and pro-war voters.
Kerry's Vietnam veteran opponents hadn't been in contact for over 30 years, so we searched each other out. Scott Swett, creator of wintersoldier.com that collected research on Kerry's protest activities, was an invaluable connector among us, creating an Internet political network that bound us together.
While we knew all too well about Kerry's anti-Vietnam protest period, we compared notes and surprised ourselves at the extent of deceptions in Kerry's self-hagiography about being a sterling war hero. It was intolerable that John Kerry brazenly glorified this suspect record to centerpiece his few months as a junior officer 35 years ago as qualification to lead the United States in this most challenging time since the Cold War.
The liberal media portrayed anti-Kerry Vietnam veterans as a long-planned, far-right funded conspiracy of liars. That's far, far from the truth. The real story is like the Minutemen, rising from peaceful lives to spontaneously come together to again fight for the America we so deeply love.
There was little or no coordination, just mutual support, with each volunteer shooting from behind his own tree in the same direction. We came to know each other on the field of our revolt against the false image created by Kerry of himself in the media and the false image Kerry was instrumental in painting of us and America.
John O'Neill got off his sickbed. He asked me whether I had the contacts and resources to lead as I did in 1971, which I didn't, and he dug in his own pocket to get the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth started. Vietnam veterans from every service, and Americans from every walk of life, joined in and followed O'Neill into political combat.
Early in the year a friend with access to the Kerry campaign warned me it was digging for any kind of dirt to destroy us. Contrary to the liberal media's story that we surprised Kerry in August, he thought the mainstream media could succeed in ignoring and stifling the Swift Boat veterans, and he had long planned a new smear campaign against us.
The surprise to the Kerry camp and liberal press was that the new media did break through and that Vietnam veterans could not be intimidated. In August, as reported by Newsweek, Kerry operatives fed negative documents and talking points to the New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe. Subsequent articles in those newspapers reflected negatively on the Swiftees.
With only one halting exception, the mainstream media refused to investigate the sworn affidavits of 60 credible witnesses to Kerry's behavior, or to follow up on the abundance of additional information given them. The New York Times repeatedly used "unsubstantiated" as its adjective describing the Swift Boat veterans' allegations without ever exerting its considerable power to investigate.
Kerry wasn't pressured by the mainstream media to reveal his full military records to resolve issues, nor questioned as to what he was hiding. The mainstream media's zeal in chasing down every scrap of trivia about Bush's service stands in sharp contrast. That alone strongly suggested a liberal bias.
This behavior by some of the liberal media was purposeful. The survival of their favored candidate was endangered by our truth and facts. As important, the self-image of many reporters was endangered. Their myths of our pervasive evils in defending Vietnamese freedom, and of their valiant memories of mounting school libraries' ramparts, could not take the incongruence of exposure.
In the campaign to discredit anti-Kerry Vietnam veterans, some charged that we were reviving an old vendetta. Actually, we had ignored Kerry until last February. Some charged that we were refighting a cultural war from the '60s. Again, untrue. Many of us smoked marijuana, rocked to the same songs, grew the same long hair. We're Democrats, independents and Republicans.
The true post mortem of Kerry's defeat is simply the last hurrah of simple patriots, amateurishly but fervently rising up and banding together, with few resources, to defeat the mainstream media's boy and juggernaut. Polls and the election show we succeeded.
Find this article at: http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20041219/news_z1e19kesler.html
They did a great job blasting the chameleon....You have to love them.
It is about time, but it's going to take a lot to make up for the twenty-five years of smearing Vietbnam Vets, and what they had to live with.
Maybe someday we'll hear about the atrocities of the North Vietnamese when they took over the north of that country, maybe we'll finally honor Nick Rowe.
Sorry. Vietbnam = Vietnam. Early-morning stiff fingers.
In all probability it was a dishonorable discharge followed by a pardon from the Carter administration. The Clinton's will play their ace in the hole without hesitation in the prior to the nomination process in 2007-2008
Watching them and seeing the risks they took to defeat a common enemy of theirs and the country made me proud to be an American. I must say that I took sadistic delight in the implosion of the Kerry campaign. It was a joyous occasion to watch it unravel in spite of receiving life support from the Main Stream Media. This is just the beginning. The truth always prevails! Long live the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth.
I've made other contributions before, but I never felt more proud to have had the opportunity to give than I feel about the small sums that I gave the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
If they have money left, I would love to see them advance some of it to a respected historian who would write a book about the contrast between the war on the ground in Vietnam and the war at home, the events that shaped public opinion in the US about the war, and especially the role played by the Winter Soldier investigation and the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and, at long last, the truth about Kerry's discharge from service.
In my opinion, this is necessary in order to finally bring closure to the war. Now that a structure for such a book has been created (thanks to the Kerry campaign), the timing is appropriate.
It won't really be over until we have that piece of garbage's records made public.
Life is good.
I heartily agree with the need for the history of that period to be told straight. But calling Vietnam America's first defeat is ceding to America's enemies rhetorical and intellectual territory which should be defended or retaken.
The enemies of America like to portary campaigns as separate wars so that when a campaign goes badly they can unite all who oppose war generically, all who oppose the conduct of the particular campaign, all who oppose America's particular goals, and all who hate America in a grand coalition. That's what they did with Vietnam and that's what they're trying to do with Iraq.
Neither was or is a war, each was or is a campaign in a larger war. WW III (a.k.a. the Cold War) in the case of Vietnam, and WW IV (a.k.a. the War on Terror) in the case of Iraq. America has lost campaigns in wars it has won--the disasterous campaign which led to the terrible winter at Valley Forge and the mid-Atlantic campaign of the War of 1812 when the British burned the White House spring to mind.
For the history to be written right, Vietnam must be seen as a campaign in the ultimately successful Cold War which was lost because of the domestic forces you decry.
We still need to have a Cold War victory parade with Vietnam and Korea veterans marching front and center.
Yes, we won the battle, but have yet to defeat the enemy.
This election showed the deserved irrelevance of the 'Old Grey Lady' to modern American politics.
WE didn't lose THAT war, and we didn't lose THIS war..
It was cowardly, self serving leftist traitors like Kerry that lost the war for us and for the Vietnamese people..
Kerry continues to insult our living and fallen warriors, by his presence in the Senate and outside of prison bars..
Kerry stood for and continues to stand for EVERYTHING I despise and hold responsible for slandering the good names or our true warrior brothers and patriots..
All the money in the world will not defend Kerry from the ghosts of those men..
They are waiting.....
I await the opportunity to piss on his muddy grave.
I agree with all of your very perceptive points.
Humble thanks to all, particularly the vets, who prevented it.
The Boston Globe, and others in the media have also used the terms debunked and discredited in articles which I have read. I do not know how they substantiate such terms, but they use them anyhow. When called upon it, the media types simply do not respond.
The day after the election, he opened up a bottle of his best wine (and he's not a big drinker) and just kicked back in his recliner watching and laughing at the talking heads cry in their beer.
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