When thousands of people gather in Washington, D.C., on Saturday to protest the war in Iraq, a group of Vietnam veterans hopes to take advantage of what it sees as an "unprecedented opportunity" to expose "the massive lies told by the war protesters of the '60s" that are being used again today.
Leonard Magruder, president of Vietnam Veterans for Academic Reform (VVAR), would like to see Vietnam veterans distribute fliers during the demonstration with "documented facts that show how the war protestors of the '60s lied, and by recycling the same arguments again on March 17, will be lying again."
"Holding onto and perpetuating myths has too great a potential for creating another lethal, paralyzing polarization," Magruder argued in a letter this week. "We cannot win the war against terror with the campus building towards a polarization that could again paralyze a national effort."
The VVAR president cited the Vietnam Veterans Against the War website, which says: "The 58,000 U.S. soldiers who lost their lives in Vietnam and the millions of Vietnamese who were killed, died in a criminal war. The connection between Vietnam and Iraq could not be more clear. Iraq is also a criminal war of aggression."
"There they are again! Those toothless old hags of the protests of the '60s: 'criminal,' 'aggression,'" Magruder declared. "You can hurl these charges back in their faces on March 17 by handing out copies" of articles available at the VVAR website.
One document Magruder points to, called "Vietnam and the Media," provides "documentation from 21 standard histories and commentaries on the Vietnam War on how the media transformed a strategic American victory into a defeat, betraying the war effort."
"It's time the nation realize who the true 'criminals' are: the ones who betrayed Southeast Asia to tyranny and genocide," Magruder said.
Though not a Vietnam veteran himself, Magruder has been dealing with the fallout of the war for more than 25 years. He vividly recalls discussing the Vietnam War with students as a psychology professor in Long Island in 1981.
At the end of the semester, Magruder asked his pupils whether war had been just or "immoral," as war protestors had argued. To his surprise, 85 percent of the students said Vietnam had been a just war.
"Puzzled as to why the students of the 80's could see the truth so clearly, that there was nothing 'immoral' about defending South Vietnam against Communist aggression, while the students of the 60's could not, the students concluded that faculties, to serve their own largely leftist and Marxist ideologies, had misinformed their students, who in turn used the misinformation to serve their own purposes, primarily to avoid the draft," he said.
Magruder decided to resign from the university and join with local veterans to help found the VVAR.
'Facts are facts'
As Cybercast News Service previously reported, several veterans' organizations announced that they will be present during the March 17 protests to protect memorials from being damaged after an anti-war protest on Jan. 27 left steps and pavement outside the U.S. Capitol spray-painted with anarchist symbols.
In addition, the "These Colors Don't Run" caravan led by the conservative group Move America Forward is taking an eight-day, 3,500-mile trip to arrive in Washington, D.C., in time to counter the anti-war protests, which coincide with the fourth anniversary of the launch of the Iraq war.
John Zutz, a national officer with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, told Cybercast News Service that the VVAR "can do whatever they want. They can say whatever they want. If they want to 'Swift Boat' it, let them. The facts are the facts."
The massacre of My Lai "is a fact. It happened," Zutz said. The execution of Vietnamese civilians by a U.S. Army unit called Tiger Force "was a fact. That happened for more than a year. The U.S. committed atrocities. Oh sure, the Vietnamese did, too, but that's what war is about.
"Innocent people get killed in war, and they're getting killed in Iraq today," he added. "Abu Ghraib is a fact. Guantanamo Bay is a fact. You can't argue with those."
Nevertheless, Zutz said neither he nor most of the Vietnam veterans he knows will take part in the march in D.C., because they will instead be holding their own peace march and rally at Fort Bragg in Fayette, N.C.
When scheduling the protest in Washington, D.C., the activists at International A.N.S.W.E.R. "didn't bother to ask us if we had anything going on that weekend," he noted. "We do."