protest not tolerated
February 27, 2003 9:21 AM   Subscribe

Protest Is Not Tolerated

I wasn't sure how much good I could do or how much power one person has but I wanted to do it. When I took my place on the sidewalk across the street from my church, I was struck with this Norman Rockwell picture of America. Families with their balloons, flags and signs made it feel like the Fourth of July. I was thrilled by all the patriotism and was proud to be part of this community that cares enough to turn out to greet the most powerful politician in our land. But when I unrolled my sign, all that changed, and I may never be able to look at my community the same way again.

Ain't that America? Proud to be Born in the USA? Constitutional rights? Not with the "Defenders Of All Things Duhbya!"
posted by nofundy (141 comments total)
 
enough is enough, rachet it down
posted by y2karl at 9:25 AM on February 27, 2003


Um. The article was somewhat interesting, and I agree with much of the sentiment, but maybe we could be a little less polemic?
posted by namespan at 9:31 AM on February 27, 2003


Yeah and I'm sure a guy who whipped out a pro-Bush sign at one of the recent rallies would have been greeted with hugs and adoration for his pro-democracy stance? Come on man, zealots exist on both sides, karl is right, rachet it down. Making blanket negative statements about the Bush supporters is no better than them making statements in reverse. Two wrongs don't make a right, nofun.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:31 AM on February 27, 2003


I'd guess that carrying a "I support Bush" sign during a anti-war protest would elicite similar responses.

As with many disputes, at it's core is a simple lack of respect for opinions that differ from one's own.
posted by jsonic at 9:32 AM on February 27, 2003


What do you expect from a mob ? Respect ? Highly unlikely.
posted by elpapacito at 9:33 AM on February 27, 2003


it's should be its, of course. and knock the last e of that elicit.
posted by jsonic at 9:35 AM on February 27, 2003


shame. ... i wonder i these red white and blue americans would have spit on tina too?
posted by specialk420 at 9:37 AM on February 27, 2003


I don't think a middle-aged woman with a sign that said "Bomb Saddam Now" at a peace rally would be spit on (or is it spat on? spat upon? spit at? hmmm.)
posted by gwint at 9:38 AM on February 27, 2003


The passing of a presidential motorcade is a public event. People should be allowed to protest at them. If the woman showed up at a partisan rally with a "No War for Oil" sign I could understand the comparison with pulling out a pro-Bush sign at a war protest. But a presidential motorcade's passing isn't the same sort of deal. And the part about being told to take one's cross off in front of a church is, if true, beyond appalling.
posted by raysmj at 9:43 AM on February 27, 2003


Actually there was a guy with a big pro-bush sign at the NYC rally (at the edge, around Lexington). He seemed to be looking for a trouble. He got it, if you count the way he was cruelly ignored or sometimes dealt a vicious rolling of the eyes. As far as I could tell there was no saliva in his hair though.
posted by bigschmoove at 9:43 AM on February 27, 2003


nofundy, are you eight years old? Constitutional rights? You do know that only a government can deprive a person of their constitutional rights, right? And, quite frankly, the people who were criticizing this woman were actually exercising their own constitutional rights (loogie hocker excepted).

In fact, nofundy, it seems you're the one who would silence those with whom you disagree.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:54 AM on February 27, 2003


You are either with us or against us

That's the kind of thinking I'll expect from a mob...

OTOH, and it's a personal view, supporting Bush in an antiwar rally could be considered more of a provocation than what did this woman.
posted by samelborp at 9:55 AM on February 27, 2003


Julius Caesar

Act III. Scene III. - The Same. A Street.

Anonymous mob: "Tear him to pieces; he's a conspirator."
posted by four panels at 9:55 AM on February 27, 2003


Slightly off-topic, but... the author didn't receive much more vitriol than she would for driving the speed limit in the left lane of an interstate anywhere on the east coast. My point is that the problem isn't with the level of political discourse, it's with the level of all discourse that involves disagreement. For all our practice we just aren't very good at disagreeing anymore.

More to the point, she might have received the same level of spite right here on Metafilter -- the specifics of her beliefs notwithstanding. That doesn't make Metafilter a bad place, and I don't think it's fair to slam Cobb County, or the rest of the country, on that basis either.
posted by coelecanth at 9:57 AM on February 27, 2003


It stopped just long enough for the president's motorcade to pass by and then erupted again. We were told to " Get the f--- out of the country," had obscene gestures pushed in our faces. An elderly man told me to "Go to hell!"

what a bunch of assholes. animals.
posted by donkeyschlong at 10:00 AM on February 27, 2003


How about the fact that problem that you point, lack of respect for differing opinions are exactly what this article is trying to address. The writer goes to great pains to illustrate that she's no different than her neighbors, she's just against the war.

There are lots of people out there that view the opposing party as "the enemy", that hold different view on hot button issues as "the enemy". Watch Bill O'Reilly, surf over to your favorite lefty blog, and you'll see them literally call other Americans "the enemy".

This if anything this what will bring the downfall of this country. Divide and conquer is it?

And you know what? All the apathy that I see above me isn't helping. "What do you expect from a mob?" Should we expect that every group of people on the sidewalk to form a mob once they spot someone different?

I want to see more stories like this get more attention. I want to read about experiences on all sides. Just as there was an important need to humanize American Muslims for the ignorant people who attacked them after 9/11, there needs to be a effort to show that people who disagree with the path that this war is taking (for whatever reason) are not evil Satan worshipping America haters.

Especially on here on Metafilter we need to learn that lesson. For the uncountable flamewars that erupted from I/P threads, Iraqi threads, abortion threads, religion threads, etc, etc, etc there are few examples of understanding. However, when we actually get past all the slogan yelling, and listen and discuss with each other those threads can be extremely enlightening.

Encourage discourse at every opportunity. Accept challenges to your preconceived notions. Listen to others. The battle against ignorance is constant.

coelecanth: what you said
posted by betaray at 10:01 AM on February 27, 2003


The one that gets me is when they say, "You should be careful what you say. My daddy died in [name of war here] to protect your right to say offensive things." (To which my response is always, "You're right, I'll honor his memory by being as offensive as possible from now on.")
posted by RylandDotNet at 10:02 AM on February 27, 2003


How about the fact that problem that you point, lack of respect for differing opinions are exactly what this article is trying to address. The writer goes to great pains to illustrate that she's no different than her neighbors, she's just against the war.

There are lots of people out there that view the opposing party as "the enemy", that hold different view on hot button issues as "the enemy". Watch Bill O'Reilly, surf over to your favorite lefty blog, and you'll see them literally call other Americans "the enemy".

This if anything this what will bring the downfall of this country. Divide and conquer is it?

And you know what? All the apathy that I see above me isn't helping. "What do you expect from a mob?" Should we expect that every group of people on the sidewalk to form a mob once they spot someone different?

I want to see more stories like this get more attention. I want to read about experiences on all sides. Just as there was an important need to humanize American Muslims for the ignorant people who attacked them after 9/11, there needs to be a effort to show that people who disagree with the path that this war is taking (for whatever reason) are not evil Satan worshipping America haters.

Especially on here on Metafilter we need to learn that lesson. For the uncountable flamewars that erupted from I/P threads, Iraqi threads, abortion threads, religion threads, etc, etc, etc there are few examples of understanding. However, when we actually get past all the slogan yelling, and listen and discuss with each other those threads can be extremely enlightening.

Encourage discourse at every opportunity. Accept challenges to your preconceived notions. Listen to others. The battle against ignorance is constant.

Pardonyou?: Obscene gestures, assualt, and battery are not protected forms of speech. Period.

coelecanth: what you said
posted by betaray at 10:03 AM on February 27, 2003


How about the fact that problem that you point, lack of respect for differing opinions are exactly what this article is trying to address. The writer goes to great pains to illustrate that she's no different than her neighbors, she's just against the war.

There are lots of people out there that view the opposing party as "the enemy", that hold different view on hot button issues as "the enemy". Watch Bill O'Reilly, surf over to your favorite lefty blog, and you'll see them literally call other Americans "the enemy".

This if anything this what will bring the downfall of this country. Divide and conquer is it?

And you know what? All the apathy that I see above me isn't helping. "What do you expect from a mob?" Should we expect that every group of people on the sidewalk to form a mob once they spot someone different?

I want to see more stories like this get more attention. I want to read about experiences on all sides. Just as there was an important need to humanize American Muslims for the ignorant people who attacked them after 9/11, there needs to be a effort to show that people who disagree with the path that this war is taking (for whatever reason) are not evil Satan worshipping America haters.

Especially on here on Metafilter we need to learn that lesson. For the uncountable flamewars that erupted from I/P threads, Iraqi threads, abortion threads, religion threads, etc, etc, etc there are few examples of understanding. However, when we actually get past all the slogan yelling, and listen and discuss with each other those threads can be extremely enlightening.

Encourage discourse at every opportunity. Accept challenges to your preconceived notions. Listen to others. The battle against ignorance is constant.

Pardonyou?: Obscene/Offensive gestures, assualt, and battery are not protected forms of speech. Period.

coelecanth: what you said
posted by betaray at 10:05 AM on February 27, 2003


If the woman showed up at a partisan rally with a "No War for Oil" sign I could understand the comparison with pulling out a pro-Bush sign at a war protest.

A large group of people voicing their support for war as the president drove by on his way to make a speech supporting the war. Sounds like a pro-war rally to me.

Regardless of who's protest it is, differing opinions should be respected.
posted by jsonic at 10:06 AM on February 27, 2003


norman rockwell lied.
posted by quonsar at 10:06 AM on February 27, 2003


Thanks for the saliva pardonyou.
Been eating raw meat?
Personally, I would defend your rights to expression but then you knew that didn't you?

I will not be silent.
Spit away and I will wear it as a badge of honor.

What is so horrible about a woman exercising her rights, in her own neighborhood, across from her own church, that prompts persons to so viciously attack her? It's sick and you know it. Defend them all you want but it still doesn't make it right. Ask the freepers how they handle dissent. Here's an example.
posted by nofundy at 10:07 AM on February 27, 2003


In fact, nofundy, it seems you're the one who would silence those with whom you disagree.

pardonyou, you go too far when you accuse nofundy of wishing to silence others. Nowhere does he come across as though he wishes this. I think you're just trying to provoke him.
posted by ashbury at 10:07 AM on February 27, 2003


betaray, we get your point ;)
posted by Cyrano at 10:10 AM on February 27, 2003


Am I the only one that finds these kind of opinion, letter to the editor, type pieces suspect? How do we know how she was actually treated? Could just be me, but you see this on various issues of great emotion. What is written and what is true can be very different things. When the issues are such where emotions run high, I take all opinion pieces with a grain of salt.

Oh yeah, I mean this for ALL sides of the issue.
posted by Plunge at 10:14 AM on February 27, 2003


No matter how you slice it, spitting on and yelling at anyone just for articulating their opinion at a no-invitation-necessary public event is despicable and, IMO, UnAmerican.

I don't think that these idiots in Georgia are any more rabid or any less human than the idiots that supported any "democratically" elected leader turned facist despot. Hitler comes to mind, so does Rome (it was a republic and it became an empire - citizens were there for the turn). What is it? Is it that Bush is evil? I doubt it. Is it that chickenhawks don't understand the consequences of war with Iraq? (rolling back international trade 50 years, unrest at home, economic instability) Even a just war would have all these challenges, much less an unjust war.

Americans (and yes, I'm singling out Americans - as opposed to Europeans or Japanese or Columbians) are completely unashamed, nay proud, of their ignorance. They seem to think that there's a simple solution to everything and they have a Chief Executive encouraging them to stay ignorant. Good and Evil. With us or against us. Smoke'em out of their holes. While our former President (goddamn I wish people realized why Clinton was good - as it is I think they simply liked his personality and style) was constantly torn down by the Right (and sometimes by the Left) for "riding fences", acknowledging that there's always more than one side to an issue, and attempting to take the middle road. blah, back to work
posted by chris0495 at 10:15 AM on February 27, 2003


Also, nofundy may not want to silence others, but he's awful quick the with "Defenders Of All Things Duhbya" label. So, it's ok to be snide and derogatory online but not in person? Noted.

(That being said, the Pro-Bush folks in the story did act like pricks.)
posted by Cyrano at 10:16 AM on February 27, 2003


For all our practice we just aren't very good at disagreeing anymore.

Good point coelecanth. I would add that if we all understood the difference between disagreeing with somebody's opinion and saying that it is wrong, many flamewars would be averted.

In matters of opinion, there is no concept of universal right or wrong. Insisting that one's opinion is 'right' or saying another's is 'wrong' only leads to pointless conflict.
posted by jsonic at 10:16 AM on February 27, 2003


Pardonyou?: Obscene gestures, assualt, and battery are not protected forms of speech. Period.

Wrong on obscene gestures. Correct, obviously, on assault and battery. That's why I excepted the saliva -- but other than that, none of this was anywhere near assault or battery.

Don't get me wrong -- I don't "like" what people said to this woman. But you can't be a proponent of freedom of speech only when you like this message.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:19 AM on February 27, 2003


betaray: that particular group of people was actually a mob. Obscene gestures, insults, potential for physical violence make that group of people different. It's not the generic group of people waiting for a bus at a bus stop, they have an (often very confused) agenda and they rarely are willing to tolerate any different idea.

What's interesting is the process that makes an ordinary group of political supporters become an angry mob in a split second.If all you need to do make a group of people angry and violent is a sign, they probably aren't held togheter but by anger or fear.
posted by elpapacito at 10:20 AM on February 27, 2003


I'd agree that a single example of mob mentality isn't a fair representation of a particular (pro-bush, pro-war, whatever) group.

I don't think anyone here is agreeing or supporting the behavior of this particular mob? Sure, they are free to express their opinions just the same as the author was attempting -- it's the manner in which they did it that is simply disgusting. I'd feel the same way no matter which side of the argument I support. No one should be treated that way in this country.

What I found to be an even more interesting indication of public opinion was in the public forum attached to this article. No mob mentality there...
posted by stigg at 10:20 AM on February 27, 2003


From a non-political perspective, I don't think this woman received any harsher treatment from a crowd than someone who wears the visiting team's jersey at a big hometime sporting event. Not that that makes it right or wrong, but just that there's always going to be a certain percentage of assholes in any large crowd.
posted by stifford at 10:21 AM on February 27, 2003


Americans (and yes, I'm singling out Americans - as opposed to Europeans or Japanese or Columbians) are completely unashamed, nay proud, of their ignorance. They seem to think that there's a simple solution to everything

Please don't assume that all Americans share an opinion on anything political.
posted by jsonic at 10:23 AM on February 27, 2003


Why are pro-war people so angry? They'll get the war they want.

They remind me of conservatives who complain about how liberals wield all the power in the United States, conveniently ignoring the fact that Republicans control the White House, both houses of Congress, and the judiciary -- and hold the White House despite getting fewer votes than Al Gore. Republicans are governors of three of the four largest states. Conservatives are the top-rated radio and TV talk hosts. Yet conservatives constantly complain that they're marginalized and silenced.

Where does all this victim psychology come from? It's a breathtaking break with reality.

And I ask again: The pro-war people will get their war. They have triumphed politically in the United States. They're getting their way. They will get what they want. Why are they so angry?
posted by Holden at 10:27 AM on February 27, 2003


I guess I should clarify: I am not saying that Bush is Hitler II. Not at all, not at all. I despise Bush but I'm truly not afraid for my civil liberties or any of that crap. In a free society, the people beg despots to take charge. They come to power with great popularity, they are seen as saviors. Which is why more shit has to happen on U.S. soil before things get really bad. Which is also why I got a passport last fall. Which is also why I'm saving money like crazy (it might cost 20K before Jamaica lets you immigrate)

Our foreign policy (which is best characterized as Speak Loudly, Carry a big stick and act Bi-Polar, IMO) is winning us many new enemies in many different places - whether its by design or because of oversight, it's shamefully irresponsible.

on preview: jsonic - I never said Americans share anything. I said that Americans are proud of their ignorance and that, instead of muffling their opinions, the ignorant seem to think that their opinion is as "good" as someone who is informed. IMO, this is a distinctly American phenomenon. I think it's an outgrowth of our culture. I don't think it has anything at all to do with politics.
posted by chris0495 at 10:29 AM on February 27, 2003


pardonyou, you go too far when you accuse nofundy of wishing to silence others. Nowhere does he come across as though he wishes this.

But isn't that the natural consequence of his point? Isn't he really saying, "The people who were criticizing this woman were wrong, and were depriving her of her constitutional rights ... i.e., they should not be allowed to do that"? That's sure how I read it. Maybe you read it differently -- maybe nofundy was just trying to say, "Gosh, these people were mean to this nice woman."
posted by pardonyou? at 10:36 AM on February 27, 2003


I never said Americans share anything. I said that Americans are proud of their ignorance

Uhhh, so you're saying that American's share their pride in being ignorant?

Haven't we all realized yet that generalizations and stereotypes do not make for a construtive discourse? Taking the actions of some people and enhancing them to represent an entire group is a logical fallacy.
posted by jsonic at 10:41 AM on February 27, 2003


Is it too late to ask why this post is still here?

IraqFilter: check
OpinionFilter: check
OverblownRhetoricInFPP: check
posted by turbodog at 10:49 AM on February 27, 2003


It's funny the cross guy doesn't realize the catholic church is against the war.
posted by TurkishGolds at 10:50 AM on February 27, 2003


ok nofundy, so you hate america, blah blah, move on, your sentiment as been duly noted time and time again.
posted by xmutex at 10:52 AM on February 27, 2003


Constitutional rights? Not with the "Defenders Of All Things Duhbya!"

Feed not the trolls, else they come every day to your doorstep to sup.
posted by UncleFes at 10:55 AM on February 27, 2003


Well, nofundy, one thing seems certain--with that camera there, she could doccument she was spat upon. The is no documented evidence any returning Viet Nam veterans ever were spat upon.

We knew what they had faced. We wanted them home:

Larry Burrows - South of the DMZ, Vietnam, 1966 - First-aid center, where wounded Marines were treated before being helped to air-evacuation points. (Life).

No one spat on any soldiers then, no one blamed them for what they suffered at the hands of their government. We knew better. We had a free press then.
posted by y2karl at 10:55 AM on February 27, 2003


instead of muffling their opinions, the ignorant seem to think that their opinion is as "good" as someone who is informed

In other words: "the ignorant should keep quiet, since their opinion is inferior". And I suppose you are clairvoyant enough to judge who is, and is not, 'ignorant'.

Another excellent example of somebody thinking that there is 'right' and 'wrong' in matters of opinion.
posted by jsonic at 10:55 AM on February 27, 2003


I won't try to guess at what nofundy or anyone were trying to get at; it seems to me however that it is possible to believe that these people had every legal right to yell and scream at the protesting lady - and yet decry the closeminded, overheated, condemnatory nationalistic state of political discourse in this country that causes them to choose to do so.

This issue - the state of discourse and rhetoric - is far more fundamental and interesting than the current crisis of the day, and thus I think this post does *not* in fact count as 'IraqFilter'. There is nothing related to whether or not we should go to war/etc - it's about the way we talk about politics and policy - or fail to do so.
posted by freebird at 10:56 AM on February 27, 2003


If you knew anything about Cobb county, GA you might understand a little more. I know.. i used to live there. Its very right-wing, and southern.
posted by psycht at 10:57 AM on February 27, 2003


I have seen plenty of pro-war people at peace rallies and they don't seem to be treated poorly. In fact, a group of 50 or so flag-waving Bush supporters had a nice little party of their on in the January San Francisco rally, and I don't think there was any confrontation at all. Most of the pro-war people at the peace rally that I saw were drunk, and often homeless, hoping to stir up a fight or at least get some attention.

But this was not a Pro-War rally. This was just the POTUS driving by in a limo. You can hardly call her an "instigator" when you're trying to apologize for people cursing and spitting at her.
posted by zekinskia at 11:00 AM on February 27, 2003


But isn't that the natural consequence of his point? Isn't he really saying, "The people who were criticizing this woman were wrong, and were depriving her of her constitutional rights ... i.e., they should not be allowed to do that"?

pardonyou, if under any other circumstances, people surround an individual, scream obscenties, push obscene gestures in their face, and never mind the spitting, the police will get involved. It is at best harassment, certainly intimidation, and even without the spitting you could probably make a case for assault.

Nobody's questioning their right to publicly express disagreement with her position, but this goes well beyond mere expression into civil infraction territory, for no other purpose than to frighten and silence her.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:03 AM on February 27, 2003


The is no documented evidence any returning Viet Nam veterans ever were spat upon.

My uncle (volunteer Marine, served at Khe San) and my father (drafted artilleryman, served during Tet) both reported catching a few loogies upon return from the war. My other uncle (drafted radioman, served in Germany) reported no loogies.

Of course, your results may vary.
posted by UncleFes at 11:07 AM on February 27, 2003


Not that that makes it right or wrong, but just that there's always going to be a certain percentage of assholes in any large crowd.

I don't see how sitting back and letting it happen, or accepting the fact that it's inevitably going to happen is a good thing. Complacency is a disease.

pardonyou, you go too far when you accuse nofundy of wishing to silence others. Nowhere does he come across as though he wishes this.

But isn't that the natural consequence of his point? Isn't he really saying, "The people who were criticizing this woman were wrong, and were depriving her of her constitutional rights ... i.e., they should not be allowed to do that"?


I think his point was that the people who were criticizing the woman went beyond that of critique to something that was far more personal--intimations of violence, including spitting on a person is not an effective method of disagreeing with her, it's intimidation to the nth degree and does not allow room for healthy debate. So no, I don't think that's what he was saying at all.
posted by ashbury at 11:13 AM on February 27, 2003


This issue - the state of discourse and rhetoric - is far more fundamental and interesting than the current crisis of the day, and thus I think this post does *not* in fact count as 'IraqFilter'. There is nothing related to whether or not we should go to war/etc - it's about the way we talk about politics and policy - or fail to do so.

Exactly. Thank you for your lucidity freebird. The point IS about certain definable groups of people in the USA and their tactics and rhetoric used to stifle dissent. My history remembrances bring up thoughts of brownshirts.
posted by nofundy at 11:18 AM on February 27, 2003


jsonic,-
generally we Americans are prone to promote a simplistic quick view..

We are not known for deep philosophical arguments..
But more, "plain common sense" solutions, and as a whole wanting the quick easy answer.

Living the reality of the spiritual "Tis a gift to be simple.."

That being said, this is not a desirable trait in a complex world and definatly not an asset in any debate..

And Pardon you, it does seem you are acting the apologist for some pretty foul behavior...
posted by Elim at 11:21 AM on February 27, 2003


sorry about the triple post, I didn't even think it got posted once, I didn't think I was reaching the site sorry
posted by betaray at 11:24 AM on February 27, 2003


The point IS about certain definable groups of people in the USA and their tactics and rhetoric used to stifle dissent.

Be careful, though, in extrapolating the actions of these people to be representative of all those who support Bush, as your FPP implies. That would be as logically false as saying all WTO protestors are violent because a few of them like to destroy things.
posted by jsonic at 11:24 AM on February 27, 2003


Should we expect that every group of people on the sidewalk to form a mob once they spot someone different?

Well, given that they do, if you don't expect it, you'll be woefully unprepared.
posted by kindall at 11:24 AM on February 27, 2003


I don't see how sitting back and letting it happen, or accepting the fact that it's inevitably going to happen is a good thing. Complacency is a disease.

Well, I'm pretty sure that arguement isn't going to work at a sporting event (and most likely just trigger another downpour of saliva...), but maybe at a political rally....
posted by stifford at 11:28 AM on February 27, 2003


If you knew anything about Cobb county, GA you might understand a little more. I know.. i used to live there. Its very right-wing, and southern.

I know plenty about Cobb county and places like it. That says nothing about whether or not its OK to spit on people for having an opinion or to slap "clever" labels like "Defenders Of All Things Duhbya" Things like that lead do not lead to meaningful discourse, not on MeFi and not on the street.

You can hardly call her an "instigator" when you're trying to apologize for people cursing and spitting at her.

I haven't heard anyone calling her an instigator nor apologizing for the mob's actions. She did seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when a group of over zealous jack asses attacked her, that's fairly obvious, but so is the fact that they were jack asses. Not all pro-Bush or pro-war people are jack asses just like not all anti folks are tree hugging hippies, many aren't even leftists or liberals! Slapping labels on people and silencing discourse through insult and injury is just as wrong in all its forms.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:29 AM on February 27, 2003


Of course, your results may vary.

I believe the I used the word documented. Oh, boy, another example of anecdotal heasay evidence possibly an example--to be generous--false memory syndrome. Sorry, I'm not buying another because I said so story. We would have heard or read about it then. We didn't. End of story.

Lembcke:

These stories have to be taken very seriously, but as historical evidence they are problematic. In the first place, stories of this type didn't surface until about ten years after the end of the war. If the incidents occurred when the story tellers say they did, in the closing years of the war, why is there no evidence for that? Moreover, many of the stories have elements of such exaggeration that one has to question the veracity of the entire account. One that Greene published read,

My flight came in at San Francisco airport and I was spat upon three times: by hippies, by a man in a leisure suit, and by a sweet little old lady who informed me I was an "Army Asshole."

Besides the fact that no returning soldiers landed at San Francisco Airport, I find it hard to believe that the same veteran was spat on three times in one pass through the airport.

...I cannot, of course, prove to anyone's satisfaction that spitting incidents like these did not happen. Indeed, it seems likely to me that it probably did happen to some veteran, some time, some place. But while I cannot prove the negative, I can prove the positive: I can show what did happen during those years and that that historical record makes it highly unlikely that the alleged acts of spitting occurred in the number and manner that is now widely believed.

Slate:

Lembcke uncovered a whole lot of spitting from the war years, but the published accounts always put the antiwar protester on the receiving side of a blast from a pro-Vietnam counterprotester. Surely, he contends, the news pages would have given equal treatment to a story about serviceman getting the treatment. Then why no stories in the newspaper morgues, he asks?

Lastly, there are the parts of the spitting story up that don't add up. Why does it always end with the protester spitting and the serviceman walking off in shame? Most servicemen would have given the spitters a mouthful of bloody Chiclets instead of turning the other cheek like Christ. At the very least, wouldn't the altercations have resulted in assault and battery charges and produced a paper trail retrievable across the decades?

The myth persists because: 1) Those who didn't go to Vietnam--that being most of us--don't dare contradict the "experience" of those who did; 2) the story helps maintain the perfect sense of shame many of us feel about the way we ignored our Vietvets; 3) the press keeps the story in play by uncritically repeating it, as the Times and U.S. News did; and 4) because any fool with 33 cents and the gumption to repeat the myth in his letter to the editor can keep it in circulation. Most recent mentions of the spitting protester in Nexis are of this variety.

posted by y2karl at 11:38 AM on February 27, 2003


generally we Americans are prone to promote a simplistic quick view..

Have anything to back that up? I think some Americans look for a simple answer. These people might even get more press coverage because their message reduces to a soundbite easily. But to imply that most Americans are incapable of thinking deeply on complex subjects is a conceited attempt at generalization. Conceited because you assume you are not one of those you malign.
posted by jsonic at 11:41 AM on February 27, 2003


"There's no justice like mob justice" - Principal Skinner, The Simpsons

Cynically posted pop culture witticism in response to real issue.
posted by dpkm at 11:43 AM on February 27, 2003


I'm sorry I mentioned it.
posted by UncleFes at 11:50 AM on February 27, 2003


The protesters have their freedom of speech and so do the people who oppose what you believe. It's my right to tell you that you do not belong here. This type of mentality goes along the lines of, "I believe in freedom of speech, until you oppose me. then I ask you not speak your opinion". It's on both sides.
posted by mkelley at 11:52 AM on February 27, 2003


And Pardon you, it does seem you are acting the apologist for some pretty foul behavior...

wtf?
Don't get me wrong -- I don't "like" what people said to this woman. But you can't be a proponent of freedom of speech only when you like this message.

posted by pardonyou? at 1:19 PM EST on February 27
I make a pretty piss-poor apologist.

Let me say it so it's clear: I find the words and conduct directed at this woman distasteful and repugnant. Nor do I agree with the point of view of those who shouted at her. I do, however, believe that the freedom to assert one's opinion should not depend on the content of the message. And I feel absolutely certain that if the situation were reversed -- if someone who was pro-war was claiming that similar conduct by anti-war demonstrators should have been dealt with by the police, or entitled to constitutional protection -- the people in this thread who are so indignant about the treatment of the lady in Cobb County would have no sympathy for her pro-war doppelganger.

If this post, and the resulting discussion, proves anything, it's that people (a) don't understand the concept of "freedom of speech," and (b) believe that anyone standing up for that freedom is automatically endorsing the content of the speech.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:54 AM on February 27, 2003


Wow, Unclefes, I guess your dad and uncle are just a couple of big fat liars!
posted by pardonyou? at 11:57 AM on February 27, 2003


This thread would really suck except for the whole bit about spitting on the Vietnam vets. What an interesting bit of sociology. That should have been the FPP.
posted by norm at 11:58 AM on February 27, 2003


Wow, Unclefes, I guess your dad and uncle are just a couple of big fat liars!

Memory, as a great deal of research has shown, is a very slippery thing. If a person sincerely believes what they say, are they lying?
I don't think so and I am sorry for even obliquely suggesting so.

But I repeat--we didn't hear about it at the time, else there would be a record. The spat upon returning veteran, a story which showed up in Germany after World War I and in France after Dien Bien Phu, is a myth, a social construction, in reality as well documented as the crash at Roswell. That is to say, Not.
posted by y2karl at 12:13 PM on February 27, 2003


Whoa, what am I saying?--there was a story at the time for Roswell. None for the spat upon Viet Nam vet. Roswell is better documented.
posted by y2karl at 12:17 PM on February 27, 2003


Words from a mentor of mine:

"Fight for what you believe is right, but admit that you might be wrong."

Far too many people excel at the first and fail utterly at the second. Hence our lack of moderated, reasoned discourse.
posted by Inkslinger at 12:26 PM on February 27, 2003


I don't claim to speak for the majority of folk living in the UK, or even a sizable minority, (my UK political compass puts me -7.85,-7.75. Gulp..), but I find the supposedly constitutionally enshrined rights of US citizens a frequently hollow premise.

But, as far as I'm aware, (and I read a fair bit, I think, on both sides of the fence I sit on), this just wouldn't happen over here. We may have some extreme opinions expressed in even our mainstream dailies, but we seem to believe, even without a written mandate telling us we should, that while I may disapprove of what you say, I will defend etc... (Voltaire. Oops, French...)

You may espouse freedom of speech, but really, this story just underlines to me, maybe many Brits and I guess lots of Yoorpeans, that our democracies, whilst maybe not the oldest, are, I dunno, just more democratic.

(Some of you) 'Mercans scare me and mine. Just my tuppence worth.
posted by punilux at 12:31 PM on February 27, 2003


Damn... more democratic
Sorry
posted by punilux at 12:35 PM on February 27, 2003


Without striking too jingoistic a tone here...if living here bugs you so much, you might find Canada or Mexico more to your liking. If the Continental cultural lifestyle has more appeal, try France or even The Czech Republic. If you crave something a bit more exotic, you might relocate to someplace like Morocco or Tunisia.

In short: despite what you (and many others) seem to think, America is still the freest place on earth. And one of those freedoms is to live someplace else if you don't like it here.
posted by mrmanley at 12:52 PM on February 27, 2003


It's funny the cross guy doesn't realize the catholic church is against the war.

The cross guy thinks all catholics are going to hell for their idolatrous, cult-like beliefs. Silly American Protestants.
posted by drinkcoffee at 12:59 PM on February 27, 2003


I don't think anyone here is agreeing or supporting the behavior of this particular mob?

They went way beyond the pale. You don't get to threaten people, and for damn sure you don't get to touch or spit on people.

But that doesn't mean that we need to just sit back and wait for speakers to finish expressing themselves and then thank them for their contribution. When you get up and say (or express) something locally-unpopular, you should expect to get a thorough heckling. Heckling is a good thing; it's speech vigorously counteracting other speech. Most large political events would be improved with a few good hecklers and some people heckling back at the hecklers, and it's a shame that hecklers are suppressed at most large events.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:59 PM on February 27, 2003


mrmanley -

From your post, I'm getting the feeling that you're supporting the 'love it or leave it' view. I've always believed that the constitution of the US was what you're suppose to love. When a president is sworn into office, does he not say that he will defend the constitution? The constitution of the United States is what makes our country great and that constitution gives the citizens of the united states the right to disagree. So, if those who disagree are free to live someplace else, are not those who support the suppresion of the right to debate also allowed to leave? (i'm not implying that you're saying that, but whenever i hear people shouting the 'love it or leave it' mentaility, i always wonder if the saying goes both ways).
posted by Stynxno at 1:03 PM on February 27, 2003


In short: despite what you (and many others) seem to think, America is still the freest place on earth. And one of those freedoms is to live someplace else if you don't like it here.

This is the worst argument ever made.
posted by daveadams at 1:03 PM on February 27, 2003


I find the supposedly constitutionally enshrined rights of US citizens a frequently hollow premise.

I think that's why so many of us get so upset about them being threatened.
posted by daveadams at 1:09 PM on February 27, 2003


if living here bugs you so much, you might find Canada or Mexico more to your liking

Woo hoo! More "Love it or leave!" No real argument to put forth, some folks just say "Go away."

My suggestion: stay here, disagree, protest, and work toward changing the things you don't like. That is supposed to be the American way.
posted by tolkhan at 1:14 PM on February 27, 2003


Most large political events would be improved with a few good hecklers and some people heckling back at the hecklers, and it's a shame that hecklers are suppressed at most large events.

I'd say that would be pretty correct for the one sided events. I'm not so sure organized debates really need hecklers, since there is already discourse, but as for the rallies, sounds good to me.

I'm with Daveadams too, "America, love it or leave it" is the stupidest horse shit ever. I love America, I feel America has some major flaws. In my love for America, I'd like to see those flaws corrected. Sometimes I don't like living with those flaws, does that mean I have to leave the place I love and would defend to the death?
posted by Pollomacho at 1:15 PM on February 27, 2003


My point is that you don't have to "love it" at all. But seriously, if you find living here to be such a trial, why not try it someplace else? America is not the only piece of land around -- I'm completely serious when I suggest to some lefties that they might find the atmosphere in Europe more to their liking. Surely if you stay you must find something redeeming about living here.

The Lefties among us might want to consider that their version of socialist Utopia would be a hell on earth for the rest of us.
posted by mrmanley at 1:29 PM on February 27, 2003


In short: despite what you (and many others) seem to think, America is still the freest place on earth.

If that is true, then it is worth sticking around and defending those freedoms. Pointing out things like the quashing of free speech and the like.

And one of those freedoms is to live someplace else if you don't like it here.

So if the faction I support made things uncomfortable for you, would you move somewhere else? Or would you stay and fight?
posted by moonbiter at 1:30 PM on February 27, 2003


no one blamed them for what they suffered at the hands of their government.

Good one. Keep believing that. My father was rejected for more than one job because he was "a drug addict." Based solely on the fact he served.
posted by yerfatma at 1:31 PM on February 27, 2003


Memory, as a great deal of research has shown, is a very slippery thing.

Everything's slippery, after it's been spit on.
posted by coelecanth at 1:35 PM on February 27, 2003


I love America, I feel America has some major flaws. In my love for America, I'd like to see those flaws corrected. Sometimes I don't like living with those flaws, does that mean I have to leave the place I love and would defend to the death?

Well said, Pollomacho. If I am sometimes more critical of the U.S. than I am of other countries which are far worse, it is because I hold the U.S. to a higher standard.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:39 PM on February 27, 2003


pardonyou: it's that people (a) don't understand the concept of "freedom of speech," and (b) believe that anyone standing up for that freedom is automatically endorsing the content of the speech.

Hmm...some people, maybe. But I think you're missing a subtle issue in at least some of the discussion. Yes the crowd had the right to say what it did. Settled. And no we don't think standing up for that means you support them. Fine. But the fact that it's legal doesn't mean it's not a Bad Thing. You have the right to say all kinds of horrible things, that doesn't mean they're not counterproductive to meaningful dialogue. Distinct from any particular political perspective is the fact that engaged, reasoned conversation has become a rarity in this country. I find this sort of reactionary shouting down of contrary viewpoints despicable and saddening from anyone, whether or not I agree with them.

I'm aware that it's always occurred, in all societies, but am I alone in the perception that it's increasing in the USA? And in the sadness this causes me, since a multiplex societal discourse is one of the few things that I think did make the USA historically unusual?

UncFez:m sorry I mentioned it.
I'm not. The spitting stuff has been really interesting. Thanks for bringing it up, you and Y2Karl.

MrManley:if living here bugs you so much
What the hell do you think America is supposed to be about? Why do your ilk always confuse constructive criticism for dislike? I'd hate to see the state of your personal relationships...
posted by freebird at 1:39 PM on February 27, 2003


but I find the supposedly constitutionally enshrined rights of US citizens a frequently hollow premise.

Nobody's rights were infringed by the government in this case. Were the pro-Bush people insufferably terrible idiots? Yes (quite a few are). But among many cases of Ashcroft/Fleischer endorsed instances of real stifling of dissent, this is not one.

I dislike this impending war as much as the next lefty fruitcake, but I have yet to see evidence where any other country allows me as much freedom to express my dissent.
posted by owillis at 1:40 PM on February 27, 2003


seriously, if you find living here to be such a trial, why not try it someplace else?

Would you have seriously suggested the same to a Conservative during, say, the Roosevelt administration? What you appear to be saying is "if the fight to keep America true to the dreams of its founders is too hard, why not run away?" This is our home -- meant to be the best place on Earth and it mostly succeeds in that intent. But there are those who would lead it down an unprincipled, un-American path and they need to be opposed. Thanks for the suggestion, but running away is not the answer.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:43 PM on February 27, 2003


Metafilter: Love it or leave it.
posted by Holden at 1:49 PM on February 27, 2003


I suggest to some lefties that they might find the atmosphere in Europe more to their liking.

The Lefties among us might want to consider that their version of socialist Utopia would be a hell on earth for the rest of us.

Nice, be sure you dismiss any arguments that differ from yours by slapping some label on them. Why not just replace "leftist" or "liberal" for "Poopy Head" it means about as much. Just because someone's politics are left of yours doesn't mean they are "lefties" or that they want to turn America into some giant hippie commune for Christ's sake, its just as ridiculous a concept as Bush turning America into 1942 Germany over night! Try not to be such an extremist and sling labels and just assume that someone who feels different is a Commie that needs to get out of America. Last I checked, even Pat Buchanan and the GOP supported Democracy in America. I haven't heard any calls from the Administration for mass exile for 12th generation American born citizens just because they voted for Gore or Nader. Maybe you'd find the atmosphere in Iraq more to your liking if that's how you feel.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:53 PM on February 27, 2003


The right yes, I agree, ow. But the freedom? We just seem to have a more polite way of going about our dissent. It's done by effective lobbying of our elected representatives. We have yet to put up with any of this nonsense.

Yet.
posted by punilux at 1:55 PM on February 27, 2003


George_Spiggott:

Point One: A Roosevelt liberal is a far cry from the anti-war, anti-coprorate, multi-culti leftie of today. A Roosevelt liberal would have been horrified by the spectacle of the anti-war protests. The whole meaning of "liberalism" changed (for the worse, in my view) during the late 1960's.

Point Two: Finding a certain culture politically stifling is not the same as saying you hate it. I'd go bonkers if I had to live in, say, Berkeley or Boulder; but I imagine a Berkeleyite would feel the same way about living in Ames, Iowa. Further than the political dimension, though, is that many leftists seem to dislike America's culture -- the whole "SUV's are evil, corporations are evil, McDonald's is evil" shtick. People who dislike that aspect of America might genuinely find a place like France more amenable to their tastes -- no value judgements, just simple preferences. I suspect that a lot of the anti-war crowd falls into this group -- it's not political, it's cultural.

Point Three: Obviously people feel differently about what America's founders "intended", but it's obvious that they intended at minimum exactly what we see: a secular culture, bounded by checks and balances, with a strong civic-minded and diverse population. I am a firm believer in the premise that, for good or ill, you always get the government you deserve. I'm optimistic about America if for no other reason than we can still have contentious debates like this: I see no real stifling of dissent.
posted by mrmanley at 2:03 PM on February 27, 2003


I'm completely serious when I suggest to some lefties that they might find the atmosphere in Europe more to their liking. Surely if you stay you must find something redeeming about living here.

While I'm sure they appreciate the advice, your suggestion is not a useful argument. The "lefties" are saying "hey, we're making a mistake!" and you say "go away." You still haven't addressed the possibility that the protestors and complainers might just have a great love for America and the ideals on which it was founded, and merely wish to continue the gradual improvements that have been made over the past 230 years or so to realizing those ideals. Does that not seem like a real possibility to you?

The Lefties among us might want to consider that their version of socialist Utopia would be a hell on earth for the rest of us.

Do you really presume to speak for the vast majority of Americans now and in the future?

many leftists seem to dislike America's culture -- the whole "SUV's are evil, corporations are evil, McDonald's is evil" shtick.

I still don't get what's wrong with any of those points of view. You are presuming that America's culture is a static thing, unchanging, predefined.
posted by daveadams at 2:12 PM on February 27, 2003


You may espouse freedom of speech, but really, this story just underlines to me, maybe many Brits and I guess lots of Yoorpeans, that our democracies, whilst maybe not the oldest, are, I dunno, just more democratic.

Well, you might have something there I suppose, if you're talking about having an effective deliberative democracy where the goal is consensus rather than out-shouting, out-spending, and out-voting the other side. Although that's really more a function of political culture than it is of legal rights. I don't know much about the rest of Europe, but when I (briefly) lived in Britian I was always struck by the relatively narrow range of "mainstream" public opinions. You don't really have many people over there that think that abortion is murder or that gay people are evil or that government spending on social programs is inherently evil. John Major (the PM when I was there) was conservative, sure, but we have a lot of Democrats in the U.S. that are more conservative then him in a lot of areas. And Tony Blair is hardly a left-wing socialist.

As far as freedom of speech goes, I think our system really is more liberal at the extreme margins of speech. We are willing to protect free expression out of principle even when it seems unwise to do so in a particular situation, something that I'm not sure Europe is so comfortable with. For example, I somehow doubt that many European governments would allow a group of neo-nazis to get a permit to march through a Jewish neighborhood, as our government has. (not that this is a good thing, mind you, but it is more "liberal" in the sense of being more accepting of unpopular views).
posted by boltman at 2:12 PM on February 27, 2003


A Roosevelt liberal would have been horrified by the spectacle of the anti-war protests. The whole meaning of "liberalism" changed (for the worse, in my view) during the late 1960's.

Everything else is a matter of opinion, but as to this, not to be insulting, but I really don't think you know what you're talking about. There was outright Communism preached openly, to huge numbers in public places right through WWII -- and it spanned all sectors of society: even wealthy young (stupid) dilettantes flirted with it. The labor movement in particular was well to the left in those days. And as for protest, gosh, it's my understanding that Herbert Hoover ordered protesting veterans to be fired upon. There's a gigantic history of vociferous dissent and activism in this country, particularly in the first half of the 20th century. I think you need to read a lot more before you say things like this.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:15 PM on February 27, 2003


"If we’re ever tempted to think we’ve progressed, we need only count the lessons of history we haven’t learned. Here, for example, are Mark Twain’s 1917 words on war: “The loud little handful—as usual—will shout for the war. The pulpit will—warily and cautiously—object—at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, ‘It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it,’ Then the handful will shout louder.”
Today, that loud little handful stands ready to upset the world, unleash terrorism, kill thousands, and starve thousands more. And here’s the great, dull bulk of us, sitting on our couches, certain of our own salvation, unaware that we are complicit in every injustice carried out in our name.
A loud little handful can easily outshout a silent majority. Every period in history we define as despicable has had its own silent majority, sitting on their couches. With our silence, we join a long tradition of complicity in evil."

- my friend nancy
posted by specialk420 at 2:18 PM on February 27, 2003


many leftists seem to dislike America's culture -- the whole "SUV's are evil, corporations are evil, McDonald's is evil" shtick.

...and I think they all post on Metafilter.
posted by owillis at 2:21 PM on February 27, 2003


No one spat on any soldiers then, no one blamed them for what they suffered at the hands of their government. We knew better. We had a free press then.

This statement goes far beyond the proof you cite in a later comment. In your later comment, even your expert says there is NO PROOF one way or another. They find contradictions in the stories of those they have spoken to. I wonder how wide of a net was cast in the interviews. Even if hundreds were spoken with, far far more served.

Lembcke: "I cannot, of course, prove to anyone's satisfaction that spitting incidents like these did not happen. Indeed, it seems likely to me that it probably did happen to some veteran, some time, some place."

Far cry from your "No one spat on any soldiers then,"

Finally, the problem of stories not coming out for 10 years. I don't know if that is correct, one way or another. Maybe not in the press, but there were stories among the families. Many did not want to speak of the war after returning home. It took years and years for some, some never. My uncles who served in WWII rarely spoke of their experiences, most of them they took to their graves.

I also take exception to your comments about the respect given the soldiers. I have far too many relatives that served to believe that one. Amazingly enough, relatives that kept and keep journals, those of my faith tend to do that. They all speak of the harassment they endured either coming home, while in the US on liberty before going, while shopping, etc. While none of them ever mentioned being spat on, the other was prevalent.

While your experience might have been different and those with you might have treated the soldiers better, your comments on memory goes both ways. Memory, as a great deal of research has shown, is a very slippery thing. If a person sincerely believes what they say, are they lying? Are you sure your memories of the time might not be slipping down that same slope?
posted by Plunge at 2:31 PM on February 27, 2003


Mark Twain’s 1917 words: Nibble Nibble

That would be the sounds of worms chewing though his seven year old corpse! I get your meaning though even if the date's off.

A Roosevelt liberal would have been horrified by the spectacle of the anti-war protests. The whole meaning of "liberalism" changed (for the worse, in my view) during the late 1960's.

Here's an example for you. My grandfather and I were talking about the war just the other day. He is a DIE HARD Democrat and thinks FDR was God's gift to the Presidency. He was also, before he retired, the president of a coal mining company. I asked him what he thought about the war and he said, "You know, I think this war's really about the oil." I was shocked, but that's what he said, so that seems to blow the above theory. Don't know if I agree with him or not, but that's what he said anyway.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:31 PM on February 27, 2003


My point is that you don't have to "love it" at all. But seriously, if you find living here to be such a trial, why not try it someplace else? America is not the only piece of land around -- I'm completely serious when I suggest to some lefties that they might find the atmosphere in Europe more to their liking. Surely if you stay you must find something redeeming about living here.

The Lefties among us might want to consider that their version of socialist Utopia would be a hell on earth for the rest of us.


To echo what George_Spiggott said, most of us here on the left believe in the ideal of American democracy that is claimed to be the central rallying idea behind the U. S. as a nation. Our claim to nationhood is not based on geography or ancestry, but as a group of diverse peoples who choose a particular system of government.

What repeatedly, the right makes the mistake of labeling work towards the fulfillment of the ideal American democracy as "Anti-Americanism". We have a president that has shown repeated contempt for the constitution, appointed convicted people convicted of purjury to positions that determine foreign policy and spy on American citizens, is engaging in a headlong rush to war against a country which even the CIA reports indicate is unlikely to use weapons of mass distruction except as a response to invasion. And we are Anti-American?

Point Two: Finding a certain culture politically stifling is not the same as saying you hate it. I'd go bonkers if I had to live in, say, Berkeley or Boulder; but I imagine a Berkeleyite would feel the same way about living in Ames, Iowa. Further than the political dimension, though, is that many leftists seem to dislike America's culture -- the whole "SUV's are evil, corporations are evil, McDonald's is evil" shtick. People who dislike that aspect of America might genuinely find a place like France more amenable to their tastes -- no value judgements, just simple preferences. I suspect that a lot of the anti-war crowd falls into this group -- it's not political, it's cultural.

Should conservatives like Pat Robertson who raises their own criticisms of American culture move to a country like Ireland?

One of the benefits of a democracy is the ability to engage in cultural dialogue. A love for one's country does not mean that one must love every fad, trend or product produced by this country. I certainly don't equate America's culture to just SUVs and McDonalds. The former can be rejected on pragmatic grounds while many conservatives agree that McDonald's is not a cultural high water mark for American cuisine. ("Green Conservatives" following in the tradition of Teddy Rosevelt cringe at the proliferation of strip mall food as one example of the erosion of American heritage.)

As an American, I don't see that I need to equate:
Britney Spears with Memphis Minnie
McDonalds with the Upland Brewing Company
Budweiser with Bad Elmer's Porter
Attack of the Clones with Chicago
Velveeta with Capriole Crocodile Tears

For each item in the list, the former is a bland mass product. The latter is a zesty American original.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:45 PM on February 27, 2003


Sorry to join in so late here. If I can go back to the news article for a second -- assuming it's all true (and the tone personally strikes me as a bit too incredulous and indignant, full of poor-simple-me-ism, to take at face value) it's too bad that she was surrounded and yelled at. I wish all right-leaning folks were considerate, but it sounds like this was a mob of jerks. Loogies are of course unacceptable.

But I'm astonished at the simplicity of both her expectations and her "position." Few things get people as riled up as politics, especially when was is involved, and she expected her Norman Rockwell vision of middle America was to be unsullied? She was surprised that anyone was offended by her trite "No War for Oil" message?

Oil doesn't even seem to be her real argument, anyway: "I believe the money being spent on the war in Iraq should be spent on education, health care, public transportation and the development of alternative sources of energy." As if it was simply a budget decision.
posted by Tubes at 2:53 PM on February 27, 2003


I think I'll let Sally Roundtree's Neighbors speak -

"We are responding to the article 'Disagree at Your Own Risk'. We think that protestors that were outside of Harrison High School last week, well it was a bad idea. It's a public school and I know you were expecting people to be out there but letting them protest was wrong. Let Bush do his own job and tell the kids what's going to happen. Giving them their own opinion isn't going to help anything. Sometimes, and it seems like this point in time, war is the only thing that will do anything. We need to show all of those people that we are the most powerful country. After what they did to our country, they need a rude awaking just as well. Bush is the president and he could do pretty much whatever he wanted and loudly and absurdly voicing your opinion to him isn't going to do anything. Take a break people. Let Bush do his job, he's a good president and he will follow through with everything he thinks God is telling him. "

That was written by two eighth-graders, by the way. So now we know at approximately what level critical political thinking happens in some people...
posted by Perigee at 3:04 PM on February 27, 2003


In fact, a dislike for the commercialization of American culture is one of the few things that conservatives and liberals can agree on (although they have different reasons). Conservatives are suspicious of commercial culture because of the belief that it erodes "family values." Liberals are suspicious because of increasing consolidation that threatens local diversity.

But at any rate, I find it interesting that "love it or leave it" is only invoked in debates about war. After all, it is not invoked when Conservatives raise their cultural criticisms about secular and multicultural schools, Disney movies with new-age themes, or music lyrics. One can say that the religious right is also profoundly uncomfortable with American culture as it exists today but no one questions their patriotism or their love for their country.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:06 PM on February 27, 2003


KirkJobSluder, that's impressively well put.

I do find it interesting that liberals are called "unamerican" when they object to what the government is doing, but conservatives are not called unamerican when they object to what real American people are doing.

And here I thought that suspicion of government, and the right of Americans to live freely, was supposed to be a conservative trait.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:13 PM on February 27, 2003


Er, make that:

And here I thought that suspicion of government, and defending the right of Americans to live freely, were supposed to be conservative traits.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:15 PM on February 27, 2003


exactly, i think rugged individualism and creative juryrigging are much better and more accurate references to American Culture than SUVs and McDonald's.

SUVs have been around, what 20 years, really becoming popular the last ten. And McDonald's didn't get huge until the 70's. CULTURE is a huge messy hard to define thing. Please don't reduce a description of the greatest country on earth to stupid oversize vehicles and bad fast food.

America is more than a friggin' shopping mall. It's the world's best hope for democracy.
posted by chris0495 at 3:39 PM on February 27, 2003


Finally, the problem of stories not coming out for 10 years. I don't know if that is correct, one way or another.

Are you sure your memories of the time might not be slipping down that same slope?

What part of the word undocumented --as in no corroborated incidents in the public record--don't you understand? No stories in the press, no stories on tv, none, nada, zippo.

Secondhand hearsay is not documentation. It's bullshit until proven. Otherwise UFOs exist and aliens abduct us and give us anal probes. That's your level of evidence.

There were no stories for ten years, then stories of the sort that were told after World War I in Germany, in France after the defeat at Dien Bien Phu appear, after, let it be noted movies like Rambo rewrote the Viet Nam war.

Lembcke:

I cannot, of course, prove to anyone's satisfaction that spitting incidents like these did not happen. Indeed, it seems likely to me that it probably did happen to some veteran, some time, some place. But while I cannot prove the negative, I can prove the positive: I can show what did happen during those years and that that historical record makes it highly unlikely that the alleged acts of spitting occurred in the number and manner that is now widely believed.

There is, finally, an important role played by the human imagination in the creation of the myth of the spat-upon Vietnam veteran. When I began research for the book I expected to find a "smoking gun" kind of origin for the myth. I thought, for example, that I would find that a leading political figure like, say, Vice President Agnew, claimed in a speech that activists were spitting on veterans and that, forward in time from that speech, I would be able to trace a path to the popularization of the image. But there does not appear to be any such point of origin. It appears, in fact, that around 1980 stories of spat-upon veterans begin to percolate more or less spontaneously—spontaneously, that is, against the backdrop of what I have described above. Why? And why do the stories take the form of spitting as abuse? Why not rock throwing or hitting with sticks?

Why didn't anyone get their asses kicked, as Lembcke wrote, why were all these vets so passive? Why didn't it make the news then? Nixon and Agnew, especially Agnew, let alone George Wallace, would have taken that one to the bank. Why is there no documented record of it happening anywhere? Doesn't that seem a little screwy to you?

Believe me, local tv news was more reactionary then than now--if it had been reported anywhere, we would have heard about it when it happened and it would be on the record. We did not hear about it. It is not on the record. Why not?

While none of them ever mentioned being spat on...

Because, as a scrupulously observed rule with possibly one or two exceptions granted for the sake of argument, it didn't happen.
posted by y2karl at 3:57 PM on February 27, 2003


I think that's why so many of us get so upset about them being threatened.

Now now, don't go turning this into a gun-control thread. ;)
posted by aaron at 4:01 PM on February 27, 2003


There's no justice like angry mob justice.
posted by spazzm at 4:18 PM on February 27, 2003


aaron, you can have my aborted baby's rifle when you move the anti-war sign out of the way and pry it from my lesbian clone's cold dead atheist fingers.
posted by daveadams at 4:18 PM on February 27, 2003


But I repeat--we didn't hear about it at the time, else there would be a record.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It simply wasn't important enough to make a fuss about. I was walking through the San Francisco airport (not directly from Vietnam, but recently enough) and a teenager yelled "babykiller" and spit at me, hitting me on the leg. I started towards him and he ran. End of incident. Should I have called the newspapers and police? Perhaps a war historian? Maybe the esteemed Lembcke?

I realize that "anecdote" is not the singular form of "data". I don't believe there were batteries of spitters waiting to ambush servicemen, but neither do I believe that I was the only case.

I mentioned it to my parents and my brother the next day, so I didn't wait ten years to claim outrage. Unfortunately, they're all dead now so I can't disprove the theory that I'm slipping into drooling senility. It happened, I got over it, life went o
posted by joaquim at 4:21 PM on February 27, 2003


Also, from a review of Spitting Image...

In this startling book, Jerry Lembcke demonstrates that not a single incident of this sort has been convincingly documented. Rather, the anti-war Left saw in veterans a natural ally, and the relationship between anti-war forces and most veterans was defined by mutual support. Indeed one soldier wrote angrily to Vice President Spiro Agnew that the only Americans who seemed concerned about the soldier's welfare were the anti-war activists.

While the veterans were sometimes made to feel uncomfortable about their service, this sense of unease was, Lembcke argues, more often rooted in the political practices of the Right. Tracing a range of conflicts in the twentieth century, the book illustrates how regimes engaged in unpopular conflicts often vilify their domestic opponents for "stabbing the boys in the back."


A similar search for anything negative written about Viet Nam era soldiers in the underground press, on any handbill, in any song lyric of the time would come up just as blank. The anti-war protestors and Viet Nam veterans were on the same side--no matter how hard the purveyors of the false memories and false claims of Rightwing propaganda try to rewrite the history of the war in Viet Nam.

Bring The Boys Home concedes no, and indeed, holds the moral high ground next to Support Our Troops Even When They Are Stupidly And Wrongly Put In Harms Way.
posted by y2karl at 4:34 PM on February 27, 2003


y2karl: I find it interesting you decide to deal in absolutes while those you quote do not do the same.

From your own expert, "I can show what did happen during those years and that that historical record makes it highly unlikely that the alleged acts of spitting occurred in the number and manner that is now widely believed."

He never says it didn't happen. In fact, he is very careful NOT to say it didn't happen. He says the number of incidences now being reported is most likely out of porportion to what likely occurred. Kind of like the number of people who claim ancestor to the original pilgrims and other such instances. There are ancestors, just not in the numbers being claimed.

From you: What part of the word undocumented --as in no corroborated incidents in the public record--don't you understand? No stories in the press, no stories on tv, none, nada, zippo.

From Lembcke: But there does not appear to be any such point of origin.

Again, notice the lack of an absolute on his part. He understands that finding proof from that era is still difficult to find. He doesn't say that there isn't any proof, he hasn't found any. He seems to be open to the possibility that it might exist whereas you have gone again to the absolute that there just isn't any evidence.

It would be interesting to see if this somehow gained publicity what might be found by groups of people looking for evidence instead of just one researcher.

This has sparked one interesting side adventure. Since first posting on this, I've spoken with two cousins who didn't take kindly to what was stated by Lembcke. They certainly scoffed at the "friendly anti-war activist" image you have portrayed here. One of them has decided to begin research into this area on his own. It will be interesting to see what comes of it.
posted by Plunge at 4:55 PM on February 27, 2003


life went o

life went on. For some reason, I keep losing the last character or two of my posts. Isn't Metafilter backwards-compatible with Netscape 1.3? (space)(space)
posted by joaquim at 4:55 PM on February 27, 2003


The anti-war protestors and Viet Nam veterans were on the same side

y2karl, this simply isn't true. I can't speak to the issue of spitting, but I was there, smack-dab in the middle of my college's antiwar protest planning, trying to coordinate with other Southern California colleges (and believe me, trying to drum up interest at CalTech was a hoot), and I can assure you there was a great deal of anti-soldier sentiment; I had to spend a lot of time arguing that it was unproductive to blame soldiers. And although I can't cite polls I'm pretty sure the majority of Vietnam vets, then and now, despised the protestors; I think they were/are wrong to, but I understand their feelings. It was a hard, divisive time, and there's no point trying retrospectively to make everyone sit down together and sing "Kum-ba-ya."
posted by languagehat at 5:07 PM on February 27, 2003


Here, listen to Revisiting Viet Nam - The Movies In Out Head. Read the notes.
From the notes:

There are no firm statistics on how many Vietnam GI's actively opposed their own war. Most experts say it was far short of a majority. But a Harris Poll commissioned by the VA in 1971 offers partial support for Lembcke's claim that Vietnam GI's and the antiwar movement were not bitterly at odds with one another; at least, returning soldiers did not see themselves as under attack by peace activists. Asked to respond to the statement,< ?i> "Those people at home who oppose the Vietnam war often blame veterans for our involvement there," 75% of veterans disagreed.

Upon Review: He understands that finding proof from that era is still difficult to find.

plunge, that is pure bullshit and you know it: Newspapers, magazines, newsreels, documentary film footage exist in enormous quantities. You're pretending like there was an atomic war or something and everything got destroyed. Bullshit. Your wishful thinking aside, there is a record.

Listen to Lembcke interviewed in the show I linked above. The right so wants to pin the Viet Nam war on the liberals--it's as if The Pentagon Papers never existed.

We could not have won that war anymore than we could intervened in the Hungarian Revolution we helped foment in 1956, anymore than the Soviet Union could have won in Afghanistan. 50,000 Americans died in that war. We couldn't win it, not without risking nuclear war--Kennedy knew it, Johson knew it and Nixon knew it and none of them would take that risk. Blame them, not the anti-war protestors.
posted by y2karl at 5:22 PM on February 27, 2003


languagehat, I may emphasize too much, concede too little, be too partisan but that show I linked has veterans of all political persuasions and all points of view represented and is maybe more fair than me--which is why I linked it.

As for your concept of how veterans felt about anti-war protestors then, note the poll above.
posted by y2karl at 5:28 PM on February 27, 2003


y2karl: Boy, you sure jump from point to point.

One thing here, Lembke comes to this entire discussion with an extreme leftist view, something which has to be taken into account. Just as someone's extreme rightwing viewpoint needs to be as well.

Next: You crack me up here. Lembke equivocates and you don't. Fascinating.

Look what you posted and then what you said. You don't even agree with the "proof" that you post.

"Upon Review: He understands that finding proof from that era is still difficult to find.

plunge, that is pure bullshit and you know it: Newspapers, magazines, newsreels, documentary film footage exist in enormous quantities. You're pretending like there was an atomic war or something and everything got destroyed."

THE FIRST FREAKING SENTENCE FROM THE STUFF YOU POSTED SAYS PROOF FROM THAT ERA IS DIFFICULT TO FIND!!!!

Next: "Those people at home who oppose the Vietnam war often blame veterans for our involvement there," 75% of veterans disagreed.

This says absolutely nothing about how returning veterans were treated by people when they returned home. This question is about responsibility. It says nothing about attitudes expressed towards the soldiers. I'm amazed at how people take one response to a poll questions and twist to hell and back to make it say what they want. You can't take a poll question beyond what it actually says.

You don't even believe your own citations, not only that you try and take them far beyond what they are saying. Beyond that, you continually cite ONE person. A person who is from your own extreme viewpoint. As far as watching the segement, it wouldn't pull up for me.

You might try reading "Stolen Valor : How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History" for another viewpoint on things.
posted by Plunge at 6:27 PM on February 27, 2003


"...and this one time, at band camp..."
posted by poopy at 6:43 PM on February 27, 2003


Also, in the notes, I found this:

One recurring image is that of the violently unbalanced Vietnam vet. The movies have churned out many such veterans; Robert De Niro's deranged character in "Taxi Driver" is just one of many in the genre.

To be sure, some Vietnam veterans are mentally ill. Some are chemically-addicted and homeless. In the 1980's the Veterans Administration estimated that 15% of Vietnam theater veterans suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. That's a significant figure - almost half a million vets. But then 85% of Vietnam vets did not have PTSD. These estimates make perfect sense when you consider that only 15-20% of Vietnam GI's saw serious combat, according to experts.

Veteran B.G. Burkett, a Dallas stockbroker and author of a book on vets called
Stolen Valor, says he looked hard at government statistics. He thinks most people will be surprised by what he found: "We had the lowest unemployment rate of any major category. Had the highest per capita income, had the highest educational rate. We had the lowest criminality rates of any group in America. You know, you don't go through three years of military discipline and then come out and say, boy, I'm gonna go rob a bank or shoot my mother. It didn't happen, but that was what became the theme in Hollywood."

Now that is fascinating. Burkett is on the right and no admirer of anti-war protestors, by the way-- his Stolen Valor, however, is about those who never served in the military and yet claim to be decorated Viet Nam veterans:

...Many go to incredible lengths to forge documents, altering them to support their pretensions to heroism. Some obtain license plates for their cars identifying them as former POWs or recipients of the Purple Heart or Medal of Honor. They frame and mount awards and decorations to impress those who don't realize such things can be purchased at almost any sizable flea market and through collectors catalogs, as can other military paraphernalia and "in-country" mementos. They cry on camera when talking about their dead buddies, about witnessing and committing atrocities. Some fool their wives, congressmen, psychiatrists, even military commanders who were in Vietnam.

I think we can agree that to despise such frauds is a common feeling for us all. And these frauds are all too well documented, let it be noted.
posted by y2karl at 6:44 PM on February 27, 2003


THE FIRST FREAKING SENTENCE FROM THE STUFF YOU POSTED SAYS PROOF FROM THAT ERA IS DIFFICULT TO FIND!!!!

I was quoting wishful thinking you, doofus.

Just as someone's extreme rightwing viewpoint needs to be as well.

Yours, I assume--when all else fails, throw out the extreme left wing smears, plunge.

Lembcke, a professor of sociology at Holy Cross and a Vietnam vet, investigated hundreds of news accounts of antiwar activists spitting on vets. But every time he pushed for more evidence or corroboration from a witness, the story collapsed--the actual person who was spat on turned out to be a friend of a friend. Or somebody's uncle. He writes that he never met anybody who convinced him that any such clash took place.

While Lembcke doesn't prove that nobody ever expectorated on a serviceman--you can't prove a negative, after all--he reduces the claim to an urban myth. In most urban myths, the details morph slightly from telling to telling, but at least one element survives unchanged. In the tale of the spitting protester, the signature element is the location: The protester almost always ambushes the serviceman at the airport--not in a park, or at a bar, or on Main Street. Also, it's not uncommon for the insulted serviceman to have flown directly in from Vietnam.


Urban myth.

And I see you told me to read the book I mentioned to you.

There was no spitting on returning veterans, save for rare cases--as the text you quote says. Listen, plunge--once Viet Nam was over, people did not want to deal with it, and the veterans got short schrift. It didn't have the fairytale ending because it wasn't a fairy tale. If Vietnam veterans were treated poorly, this is something for which the whole society bears blame.

It's a lot to give up, when you think about it, to reckon rather closely with the actual history of any country and what it's done in the world, and what any government has done abroad and to its own people. That's a lot to come to terms with. And I think people don't want to give up the simple story. 'Cause it's a nicer story. And it always has a happy ending

You want to blame the Left because it easier for you to buy into the myth of the hippies spitting on the vets at the airport. I'm not blaming anyone--it was the wrong war, started by Democrats, prolonged by Republicans--a war we could never win. I don't have any cartoon storyline about how it was the fault of extreme rightwingers like yourself that we couldn't win it, sorry.
posted by y2karl at 7:08 PM on February 27, 2003


As far as watching the segement, it wouldn't pull up for me.

The radio program link works fine for me and I'm on dial up. You just don't want to listen, scaredy cat.
posted by y2karl at 7:15 PM on February 27, 2003


Not really wanting to interrupt y2karl here, but on the old "love it or leave it" thing, could I just say that I both love it and left it, and it still manages to piss me off. Thanks.
posted by transient at 7:28 PM on February 27, 2003


I hate all of you. But especially you.
posted by solistrato at 8:21 PM on February 27, 2003


Y2Karl - Speaking of spitting on veterans:

Veterans accuse Bush of breaking promise on VA health benefits ''I'm terribly frustrated and extremely angry,'' said retired Air Force Colonel George ''Bud'' Day, a Republican who won the Medal of Honor and was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam with Senator John McCain of Arizona. Day said Bush is violating his oft-repeated campaign pledge to
veterans: ''A promise made is a promise kept.'' "The brave men and women who are currently deployed to far off regions of the world must
be assured the VA health-care system will be there for them when they come home
." (leaders of the DAV, VFW, and the American Legion. warning: 1.5 mb pdf file). They are very mad (DAV letter to Domn Rumsfeld): "More than 1.2 million members of the Disabled American Veterans support paying military retirees the benefits they have earned. They will not be misled into believing otherwise by inane assertions that proper and just compensation of military retirees will cause us to lose the War on Terror." Meanwhile, Vermont legislators are fighting the benefit cutoffs.
posted by troutfishing at 10:47 PM on February 27, 2003


y2karl:

I'm not blaming anyone for Vietnam, except for maybe the French for inviting us to their party.

I do seriously doubt your fanciful lovefest between soldiers and protestors. I've heard from far too many about this. Heck, even languagehat, a selfproclaimed protest organizer, acknowledges the hard feelings and bitterness.

The spitting...one book does not proof make, especially when the background and bias of the author is taken into account. If I remember right, Stolen Valor recounts 63 first hand accounts of spitting, could be wrong there though. You have also had one first hand account in just this thread of a person being spit on. I'm sure you'll go ahead and chalk that up to memory problems though.

Enough for now though.
posted by Plunge at 10:58 PM on February 27, 2003


Y2Karl - re: "...Many go to incredible lengths to forge documents, altering them to support their pretensions to heroism. Some obtain license plates for their cars identifying them as former POWs or recipients of the Purple Heart or Medal of Honor.." - There was a fake "Special Forces" teacher at my high school (GW Bush's school). This guy was later revealed to be an especially twisted child molestor: ''[X]...also known as "Pumpkin Man," was convicted in 1996 on charges he tried to molest a 12-year-old boy while carrying a knapsack full of child pornography. He also carried with him children's underwear, a pumpkin mask, and a pay scale for "helping pumpkin" perform various sexual acts." My school friends and I always thought he was creepy. Anyway - back to the featured thread.....
posted by troutfishing at 11:30 PM on February 27, 2003


Heck, even languagehat, a selfproclaimed protest organizer, acknowledges the hard feelings and bitterness.

Oh, bullshit. He mentions a few individuals he knew. Remember that in 1971, 75% of veterans interviewed in a scientific poll said NO to Those people at home who oppose the Vietnam war often blame veterans for our involvement there.

This says absolutely nothing about how returning veterans were treated by people when they returned home. IWhat it says is that 75% of veterans did not think that war protestors blamed veterans for our involvement there. This question is about responsibility.What it says is that 75% of veterans did not think that war protestors held veterans responsible for our involvement there. It says nothing about attitudes expressed towards the soldiers. It says is that 75% of veterans did not think that war protestors expressed attitudes towards veterans blaming them for our involvement there.

Hey, I can walk on water! That I said so is proof by your standards, right? Oh, excuse me, it's only true when you say it is--ri-i-ight.

This question is about responsibility: Why was there no mention of it in the press at the time? This question is about responsibility: Forget the Because I Said So alleged first hand accounts--where's the documentation?

Where's your proof it happened? Lembcke can't prove that it never happened but he can prove that if it did happen, it was rare, not the rule, that there is no documentation anywhere ever to corroborate any account ever, that the common narrative is patently a myth. You can't prove it happened so you come up with proof from that era is hard to find.

Which is a flat out chicken shit ass covering lie, not to put too fine a point on it.

Finally, can you find an actual, linkable news article about this? Not some opinion piece which, once again, gives a suspect reference.

This was your standard of proof with troutfishing in your I'm-sticking-my-fingers-in-my-ears-and-singing-La-La-La-as-loud-as-I-can exchange of the other day.

I provide links, you respond with your Special Olympian proof from that era is impossible [for me] to find [because it doesn't exist] --yet another variation on your Because I Said So, wah wah, boo hoo, but I do so too know I am right argument.
posted by y2karl at 12:12 AM on February 28, 2003


y2karl: "A similar search for anything negative written about Viet Nam era soldiers in the underground press, on any handbill, in any song lyric of the time would come up just as blank."

How quickly we forget...

He's five foot two,
And he's six feet four,
He fights with missiles and with spears,
He's all of thirty-one,
And he's only seventeen,
He's been a soldier for a thousand years.

He's a Catholic, a Hindu,
An atheist, a Jain,
A Buddhist, a Baptist and a Jew,
And he knows he shouldn't kill,
And he knows he always will
Kill you for me, my friend, and me for you.

And he's fighting for Canada,
He's fighting for France,
He's fighting for the USA
And he's fighting for the Russians,
He's fighting for Japan,
And he thinks we'll put an end to war this way.

And he's fighting for democracy,
He's fighting for the Reds,
He says it's for the peace of all,
He's the one who must decide,
Who's to live and who's to die,
And he never sees the writing on the wall.

And without him, how would Hitler
Kill the people at Dachau,
Without him Caesar would have stood alone,
He's the one who gives his body
As a weapon of the war,
And without him the killing can't go on.

He's the universal soldier,
And he really is to blame.
His orders come from far away no more,
They come from here and there,
And you and me,
And brother, can't you see,
This is not the way we put an end to war.


-- "Universal Soldier", written by Buffy St. Marie, made popular by Donovan.

y2karl, don't overstate your case. Viet vets were not always treated well.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 12:14 AM on February 28, 2003


y2karl, don't overstate your case. Viet vets were not always treated well.

I don't mean to say they were. It's just that these stories of people--meaning hippies. antiwar protestors--spitting on veterans are bogue. If it happened all it was rare, the exception. Some people so want to believe it was commonplace.

If it was commonplace, there would be some trace of it in the public record of newspaper clippings, magazine articles or arrest records of fights started by such spitting. plunge cites Burkett who rails against Viet Nam veterans being protrayed as victims--except, according to plunge, he paradoxically cites 63 first hand accounts of veterans who were victims of being spat upon. I'll bet none of these accounts, if they do indeed appear in Burkett's book--in court they would be called hearsay evidence--has any corroboration.

Viet Nam veterans were not always treated well in this country, this is true--but no one group or cause had the corner on the mistreatment market.

I may have overstated my case of the common cause between soldiers and protestors but this can be documented. I can drag out copies of the Helix, the local hippie newspaper here and find several mentions of coffeehouses and cabarets catering to soldiers that were organized by people in the peace movement.

I can guarantee this--there are no stories calling soldiers baby killers or blaming them for the war. Even if there were any such I missed, they were outnumbered, by several orders of magnitude, by accounts sympathetic to veterans and enlisted servicemen and
women.

Rightwingers who, because they need a story where they are heros and their adversaries traitors can not handle the idea that the Spitting myth is a myth. Yet where is the documentation that any such incidents ever happened?
posted by y2karl at 1:18 AM on February 28, 2003


You may espouse freedom of speech, but really, this story just underlines to me, maybe many Brits and I guess lots of Yoorpeans, that our democracies, whilst maybe not the oldest, are, I dunno, just more democratic.

Punilux, you're living in a state of denial. Where was the public outrage over acts like this, or this? It's true that in Britain you're unlikely to be accused of being a traitor just because you don't agree with the Government. In fact you're more likely to be treated with suspicion if you do agree with the Government, but then Sept 11th didn't happen here. What if it had? What would the Daily Mail readers be doing then? Spitting in people's hair I should imagine.
posted by Summer at 3:34 AM on February 28, 2003


What pardonyou? said. As for the loogie, looks like this woman has a pretty good case for battery or at least assault.
posted by Bag Man at 8:20 AM on February 28, 2003


Bill O' Reilly, February 26, 2003: (courtesy of Media Whores Online )

"Once the war against Saddam Hussein begins, we expect every American to support our military, and if you can't do that, just shut up.

Americans, and indeed our foreign allies who actively work against our military once the war is underway, will be considered enemies of the state by me.

Just fair warning to you, Barbra Streisand and others who see the world as you do.  I don't want to demonize anyone, but anyone who hurts this country in a time like this, well.  Let's just say you will be spotlighted.

Talking points invites all points of view and believes vigorous debate strengthens the country, but once decisions have been made and lives are on the line, patriotism must be factored in.

This does not give the government carte blanche to do anything, but it does give the government the benefit of the doubt at least until that benefit is proven wrong as it was in Vietnam."
posted by troutfishing at 9:12 AM on February 28, 2003


Karl, you get spit on?...you use an awful lot of piss and viniger to prove a point that is hardly worth proving. And what the fuck you care. Yeah vets get shafted and more then just "nam" vets. ...all this spitting data, who frikkin cares. Vets where spat upon and worse Karl....much worse things happened to them...the spitting myth? so, you want documentation on spitting incidents....why don't you cross-reference all the assaults reported by people hit by returning solders...start there.
And don't make statements like...we could not have won the that war. Kennedy...that cocksucker let Diem get killed...a Catholic even. And Johnson? forgetaboutit. Nixon wanted to bomb the north into ribbons, day and night but we did not.
I'm not blaming anyone--it was the wrong war, started by Democrats
Ike got the ball rolling there Karl.
(when was the last democrat to enter or start a war?) Wilson?

Talking points invites all points of view and believes vigorous debate strengthens the country,

yeah but on metafilter, the threshold of discussion is about 2.3 days
posted by clavdivs at 9:28 AM on February 28, 2003


y2karl was just now symbolically spat upon by clavdivs?
posted by nofundy at 12:35 PM on February 28, 2003


Karl: I used my lunch hour to do a little research in the library and came across a book called Legacy of Discord: Voices of the Vietnam War Era, edited by Gil Dorland. It contains interviews with people from all sides of the debate, so I figured it might be useful. Dorland himself is a vet, and in his preface says:
In 1968, while on convalescent leave in Nashville, Tennessee, I witnessed one of the most egregious acts that I had ever seen before or experienced since. In front of a packed auditorium at Vanderbilt University, the antiwar activist and Yale University chaplain, Dr. William Sloane Coffin, verbally dismembered a young veteran for voicing that he was proud to have fought for his country in Vietnam. The audience of intelligent Americans was on its feet, hooting and jeering the soldier. I thought that they were going to lynch him. Then, I saw his legs. They were cut off at the thighs—blown off by a VC land mine. I was sick and angry; I ran outside and vomited.
Now, you may say that he's being overdramatic or that he misinterpreted Coffin's words because he was hypersensitive to criticism of vets, but it doesn't sound to me like he's lying and it sure doesn't sound like he felt a kinship between soldiers and protestors.

James Webb, the novelist, said:
I found, by and large, that the people who stayed in the military had fewer emotional difficulties than the people who got out. In the military, there was a natural support base from others who'd gone, but the guys who were cut loose and sent home got atomized. The real hatred was from within our own age group. I believe that many of those who avoided Vietnam felt guilty about what they had done—or failed to do—and transposed that guilt by attacking the validity of the people who had gone.... I have never felt anger toward people who simply didn't go, so long as they respected those who did. But I don't think I will ever get over the deliberate abuse of those self-serving members of our age group who persisted in demeaning the experience of the 2.7 million guys who went.
Obviously, you and I would argue with him about the motives of protestors, but he clearly didn't feel a common cause. Finally, Tom Hayden replied to "Looking back, did you think that your antiwar activities might have had a negative effect on the soldiers fighting in Vietnam?" as follows:
Yes, absolutely. I didn't want the soldiers to get killed, and I didn't want them to be dishonorably discharged. I wanted the soldiers to help end the war by communicating to the press, their commanders, and the folks back home. I can understand that if you were a soldier and believed that we should be fighting the war, you would be aggravated by some guy saying the war is wrong. On the other hand, there were a lot of soldiers who thought the war was wrong and who thought maybe the people who were opposing it could shorten it before they got their heads blown off. As with everything else in this conversation, there were many spectrums.
I think that's a fair summary, and you might want to think about it before insisting on the kind of one-sided analysis you've been giving.

clavdivs, I think it's dubious to claim Eisenhower started the Vietnam War; he certainly paid for the French war and gave US support to Diem, but the war as such didn't start till the early '60s.
posted by languagehat at 12:35 PM on February 28, 2003


All that aside, when citizens can no longer peacefully voice dissent to government policies due to mob rule and the particularly worrisome groupthink that is being fostered in the current environment leading up to the engagement with Iraq, it's time to explore the loss of first principles that has occurred since 9/11.
posted by mygoditsbob at 1:57 PM on February 28, 2003


In other words: "the ignorant should keep quiet, since their opinion is inferior". And I suppose you are clairvoyant enough to judge who is, and is not, 'ignorant'.

Another excellent example of somebody thinking that there is 'right' and 'wrong' in matters of opinion.
posted by jsonic at 10:55 AM PST on February 27


Bullshit, jsonic. An opinion based on incorrect information is indeed "wrong."

Example - how many pro-war types are aware of the degree to which the United States aided Iraq prior to the Gulf War?

And surveys have shown that a rather large percentage of people believe Saddam Hussein was directly involved in 9-11. Think opinions based on that assumption are equally as valid?

Come on. This is a society where those who permit others to do the heavy brain lifting for them are accorded the same rights as the rest of us, but that does not make their opinion equally as informed.
posted by kgasmart at 2:23 PM on February 28, 2003


dubious to claim Eisenhower started

so hard to get a gist in, a few sentences then paragraphs...
I posit "the ball was rolling" I mean, the serious implications of communist impingement in southeast asia 1945-1954. Ho was a friend, communist yes but the state fellers and i imagine the JCS agreed that he could be worked with and not worked over so to say. Now The deified Harry S. (Truman) gets worried about Mr. K in the Democratic peoples half of Korea...
ah, The idea, the domino process, that model of logic, was pure gold politically. The people understood it, etc. Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, all that was a prime model of the domino effect Yes?
remember, we where supporting by occupation Japan and supporting the communist opposition in China. And the french...all that rubber in vietnam? so, Ike decides to send in advisers. I posit that the idea of one countries HALF invading the other as an internal conflict, not subject to our concern militarily...response wise, like invading. But someone asks us for help. Ike gave it in ideological commitment to supporting, militarily, South Vietnam. This commitment told the Sovs, the chinese....everyone, we will protect you from invasion. What ever the cost.
an ideological mindset ferments itself into the world view. Weltshaluge or something in german.
then Kennedy came in. Bell helicopter had some knew toys...Then 65'.
This i hope, tries to answer what "The ball was rolling" means.

but your right, the real heavy conflict stage not in Ikes term.

I'm not spitting on Karl, I would never. And my colorful adjective about JFK was...not called for I shoulda left that out.
what is ironic, i saw some tv show about the Salem Mass. city coucil meeting about it's voting to not support this "war" in Iraq.
this one vet said. "I was spat upon...".

and we can't forgot the spat at crowd.
posted by clavdivs at 1:04 PM on March 1, 2003


clavdivs, I saw the same show and wrote down the quote and the name of the vet to add here! Alas, I can't find the envelope I scrawled it on, but to the best of my recollection his name was something like Bob Burton and he said "Within an hour of my returning to the States, I was spat on." He was still mad, too. Yeah, the vets didn't have it easy no matter how you slice it.

And I certainly agree that the ball was rolling, right from the end of the war pretty much. I'll never understand why the US, bastion of freedom &c. &c., was so gung ho about propping up the Brit and French empires. Look what it got us into.
posted by languagehat at 1:22 PM on March 1, 2003


I would imagine to use the political and business infrastructure already in place. Perhaps, the various empires wanted to give countries autonomous control yet maintain the same-same as far as trade, bases etc. India is a great example. Gandhi, to me, seemed to say, 'You must trust us' without giving into any concessions. A point of honor and integrity. Some countries maintain very friendly relations. Portugal-Brazil. I believe they have a good working relationship. In Cambodia, The King is pressing for french versus english. I see this losing ground but the respect for France is still there, even after the KR.

I hear even the scots are a bit more receptive to England...(Ducks)
posted by clavdivs at 3:18 PM on March 1, 2003


*throws haggis at cladius...misses*
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:52 PM on March 1, 2003


Some interesting thoughts are found among the book reviews are contained in The Muffling of Public Memory in Post-Vietnam America

two quotes:

At a 1995 exhibit of items, "Gathered at the Wall" -- presented at the Museum of Our National Heritage, in Lexington, Mass. -- I did not see a single artifact that represented, or called to mind, a Vietnamese person. Nor were there any images of the damage that Americans did to the land and people of Vietnam, though American soldiers often took photographs of just such subjects. In fact, the most prominently displayed item was a replica of the guard tower that forms the background on the P.O.W./M.I.A. flag, the product of a mythology about the existence of American captives still held in Vietnam -- a mythology that has long served right-wing agendas and has inflamed hostility toward postwar Vietnam.

and

I generally agree with the claim that public memory of the Vietnam War has promoted definitions of patriotism that denigrate democratic dissent. However, I am less persuaded that veterans have found much to identify with in our culture's representation of their lives. Last summer, I gave a brief talk at a writing workshop about how Vietnam veterans have become the central icons in our memory of the war. Afterward, a veteran came up to disagree. He had never once felt like a key figure in American culture, he told me, much less an icon. He had not even admitted in public that he was a veteran until two years previously. He made me think about the fact that, for all our apparent attention to Vietnam veterans, we have understood their experiences no better than we have comprehended those of the Vietnamese, whom we have virtually erased from public memory.

Part of the reason is that veterans have been offered a kind of cheap, belated homecoming parade in place of serious public scrutiny of the war they fought. Moreover, the American government has never admitted its mistreatment of returning veterans -- its failure to provide sufficient job training, educational benefits, or medical and psychological care (or to support compensation for exposure to Agent Orange). Instead, Presidents Reagan and Bush encouraged the idea that the antiwar movement had betrayed patriotic American soldiers in Vietnam and ridiculed them on their return. In doing so, those Presidents implied that any objection to their own military interventions was akin to spitting in the face of American soldiers.


"Within an hour of my returning to the States, I was spat on."

Ah, another personal anecdote caught on tape: I say it's bullshit. I'm sorry but, as noted above, Because I said so doesn't cut it.

I repeat: where's the documentation? There really ought to be some, you know--the total lack of any speaks far louder than all of the numerous and so far totally unsubstantiated assertions.
posted by y2karl at 11:57 AM on March 12, 2003




« Older Chasing Hope   |   Like an REM video Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments