DEFENDING AMERICA
David H. Hackworth
21 July 98

THE TURNING POINT

"I'm mad as hell and I'm not taking it any more!" Paddy Chayevsky's words from the 1976 movie "Network" have now become the rallying cry of our Vietnam vets over CNN's crooked gas story.

It's about time! Too many of the press have for too long had an open hunting season against our warriors both when they fought in Vietnam and when they came home, and seemingly all who've served our nation since that terrible war ended.

Former Navy secretary and Vietnam war hero Marine James Webb explained the press's persistent hostility towards the military in a recent article: "It has deep roots in the elites among the old antiwar left, whose members not only avoided service but openly derided those who went to Vietnam as either stupid or evil."

Back in the '60s and '70s when our warriors fought in the most difficult and most divisive war in our nation's history, the press worked overtime to paint them as murderers, druggies and warped misfits. They were caricatured as psychos who spent their time fragging leaders, burning villages and napalming women and children.

Our Vietnam Forces could do no right. Even when they beat the tar out of the North Vietnamese Army during the Tet Offensive of 1968, the press preached gloom and doom. On that occasion, Walter Cronkite, no less, announced from Saigon "We have lost the war."

The reportage was mainly about the horror, the horror, the horror. The nation only heard the dark, the evil, the "Apocalypse Now" side of Vietnam. And few reporters empathized enough with the grunt to report on how to them the war was only about staying alive and keeping their buddies alive. Their gallantry, their brotherhood, their sacrifice and the thousands of daily unselfish acts of courage were seldom noted.

When the vets returned home, few fought back. They silently wiped off the spit, blocked out the curses and charges of "baby killers," and wore the cheap shots fired off by the media elite and a good number of the 75,000 doctorates cranked out during the Vietnam War. Many of these are the same draft dodgers now sadly running both our media and academic America, infecting the current generation with their anti-Vietnam, anti-military, anti-America poison.

Even after our heroes returned home, few reporters and teachers let facts get in their way when they could trash a Vietnam vet. They made up fairy tales such as: Vietnam vets were into suicides by the tens of thousands; they'd swollen the ranks of the homeless; and loser Vietnam vets have committed a disproportionate number of crimes and bad deeds from the Vietnam War to now.

I believe that guilt for not serving, not doing the right thing by answering the call of their country, is the reason the press and the academics have cut the vets no slack. If fighting in Vietnam was bad and those who fought there were sickos, then they could continue to justify having dodged the war. They could assuage their guilt, still look in the mirror and tell their kids, "I didn't go because it was an immoral war."

CNN/USA president Richard Kaplan, the guy largely responsible for CNN's phony story, well fits that profile. And he's famous for his derisive statements about the war and how he escaped by hiding in an academic bunker.

But now the average age of our Vietnam vets is 50. They're no longer the 19-years-olds who three decades ago were moving targets in the middle of the killing fields -- now they're among the top lawyers, doctors, CEOs, foremen and master craftsmen who make up a big percentage of the guys running America. At last they have the clout to hold their denouncers accountable.

Their first shot to this end will be an awesome lawsuit aimed at CNN and Time Magazine and the key players responsible for Time-Warner's big lie. The second volley may well be a demand on Congress to investigate CNN's nerve gas story frame by fraudulent frame.

Then perhaps the media will no longer bad-mouth our vets or our serving soldiers without just cause and airtight evidence. And then maybe our valiant warriors from a war fought long ago will finally have exorcised the ghost of Vietnam.

End It!