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Fri Nov 28, 2014, 10:01 PM

 

Spitting on the Troops: Old Myth, New Rumors

I'm so tired of this old disinformation campaign used to discredit anti-war demonstrators (don't ask) From VVAW 2003:

Many of the current stories are accompanied by stories of spat-upon Vietnam veterans. The recent story of spitting in Asheville, for example, was traced to a local businessman who says he is a veteran who was also spat upon and called a "baby killer" when he returned from Vietnam. An Associated Press story of April 9 reported stories of spat-upon Vietnam veterans surfacing in several cities including Spicer, Minnesota whose mayor said he was spat upon in the San Francisco airport while coming home from Vietnam in 1971.

Similar stories became quite popular during the Gulf War of 1991 which raised my curiosity about where they came from and why they were believed. There is nothing in the historical record news or police reports, for example suggesting they really happened. In fact, the Veterans Administration commissioned a Harris Poll in 1971 that found 94% of Vietnam veterans reporting friendly homecomings from their age-group peers who had not served in the military. Moreover, the historical record is rich with the details of solidarity and mutuality between the anti-war movement and Vietnam veterans. The real truth, in other words, is that anti-war activists reached out to Vietnam veterans and veterans joined the movement in large numbers.

Stories of spat-upon Vietnam veterans are bogus. Born out of accusations made by the Nixon administration, they were enlivened in popular culture (recall Rambo saying he was spat on by those maggots at the airport) and enhanced in the imaginations of Vietnam-generation men some veterans, some not. The stories besmirch the reputation of the anti-war movement and help construct an alibi for why we lost the war: had it not been for the betrayal by liberals in Washington and radicals in the street, we could have defeated the Vietnamese. The stories also erase from public memory the image, discomforting to some Americans, of Vietnam veterans who helped end the carnage they had been part of.

The facsimiles of spat-upon veteran stories that are surfacing now confuse the public dialogue surrounding the war. Debate about the war itself and the politics that got us into it is being displaced by the phony issue of who supports the troops. Everyone supports the troops and wishes them a safe and speedy homecoming. It's the mission they have been sent on that is dividing the nation and it is the mission that we have a right and obligation to question.

The "support the troops" symbolism also comes with a hidden agenda, a subtext that is about the anti-war movement. Understandably, the war brings a lot of emotion to the surface and some of that feeling stems from frustration with the economy, a sense of helplessness in the face of large-scale social and technological change, and fear that cherished American values are being lost. For some people, the real war is the war at home and the enemy coalition comes bundled for them in the anti-war movement. The redirection of their legitimate anger about the deteriorating quality of life in America onto peace activists is shortsighted scapegoating that won't solve problems.

The truth is that nobody spat on Vietnam veterans and nobody is spitting on the soldiers today. Attempts to silence opponents of the war with those figments of hostility are dishonest and should, themselves, be banished from our discourse.

http://www.vvaw.org/veteran/article/?id=350



Out of Iraq, already. Or, you got a good reason for us to be there???? 'splain it like I'm 5.




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Reply Spitting on the Troops: Old Myth, New Rumors (Original post)
grahamhgreen Nov 2014 OP
Warpy Nov 2014 #1
GGJohn Nov 2014 #3
pinboy3niner Nov 2014 #28
Scuba Nov 2014 #29
GGJohn Nov 2014 #34
grahamhgreen Nov 2014 #13
Warpy Nov 2014 #15
brewens Nov 2014 #2
GGJohn Nov 2014 #4
brewens Nov 2014 #5
GGJohn Nov 2014 #7
cherokeeprogressive Nov 2014 #20
Brother Buzz Nov 2014 #6
grahamhgreen Nov 2014 #14
SheilaT Nov 2014 #8
jaysunb Nov 2014 #9
G_j Nov 2014 #32
GGJohn Nov 2014 #33
Bigmack Nov 2014 #10
grahamhgreen Nov 2014 #16
Festivito Nov 2014 #11
joeglow3 Nov 2014 #12
grahamhgreen Nov 2014 #21
joeglow3 Nov 2014 #35
cherokeeprogressive Nov 2014 #22
Oktober Nov 2014 #17
grahamhgreen Nov 2014 #18
Oktober Nov 2014 #19
irisblue Nov 2014 #31
blue neen Nov 2014 #23
delrem Nov 2014 #24
blue neen Nov 2014 #25
GGJohn Nov 2014 #36
delrem Nov 2014 #37
GGJohn Nov 2014 #38
onethatcares Nov 2014 #26
FLPanhandle Nov 2014 #27
B Calm Nov 2014 #30

Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Fri Nov 28, 2014, 10:11 PM

1. I only heard one of those stories directly from a vet

who was talking to me, not posturing at a press conference or pontificating to a group of people, a guy who was well aware of my bullshit detector.

He described the spitter as a high school punk showing off for his mates. I have no reason to doubt the story.

I'm sure it happened here and there. I never saw it at a demo, however, and most of the stories about it pin my bullshit detector. It is a very good one.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #1)

Fri Nov 28, 2014, 10:18 PM

3. It did happen, but, AFAIK, not at any demos, and not that often,

mostly isolated incidents.
I had an incident happen to me, I was home on leave in 69 after a combat tour in Vietnam, went to a party in my home town, was surrounded by a bunch of partygoers who took exception to my being in the Army and being a Vietnam vet, luckily got out of there without getting my ass kicked thanks to a couple of people who took issue with those that wanted to harm me.

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Response to GGJohn (Reply #3)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 08:57 AM

28. I was called 'Baby-killer' on my first pass from the SF Army hospital treating me for my wounds

I was hospitalized for 18 months at Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco before being retired from the Army for disability.

Passions were high, and there were people in the antiwar movement who abused Vietnam vets at the same time that the movement was welcoming antiwar vets into their ranks and allying with VVAW (Vietnam Veterans Against the War, organized by disabled VN vet Bobby Muller).

People who weren't there get rabid about crying 'myth!' based on a book that labeled spitting reports as false. When I read the book many years ago, I was struck by how dishonest it was.

The context at that time was that the Right was trying to smear the Left and the antiwar movement as anti-VN veterans. So a Leftist VN vet college prof wrote a book to purify the movement and defend it against those attacks. The resulting work was highly disingenuous, but ended up being cited as gospel by many on lthe left who accepted it unquestioningly.

I think the whole notion that the antiwar movement must be proved to be perfectly pure and always righteous is ridiculous. As with any movement--Occupy or Ferguson or anything else--it's not like you submit an application and get vetted and get training and a membership card. The movement is those who show up, and not all will behave perfectly.

Shit, I was on the receiving end of the slurs and I get it. And those names really hurt. Not so much for me...I was thinking of the guys in my platoon back in Vietnam and the meatgrinder they were going through. I didn't know who or how many would make it back alive, and that's what made those names hurled at returning troops really hurt.

But I cannot for the life of me see how recognizing the reality of what actually happened to us, including bad treatment by the movement in some cases, invalidates the antiwar movement in any way.

What still feels like crap today is that too many are so eager to invalidate our experiences without even listening to us. We're just being used--and abused again--by some who want to force our experience and our history to align perfectly with their partisan and ideological views.

I hate this shit but at the same time I have to laugh when I see the same old spitting arguments raised again as if this is what our conclusions about the war and the movement depend on. Really?

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Response to pinboy3niner (Reply #28)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 10:51 AM

29. Excellent reply, thank pinboy3niner.

 

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Response to pinboy3niner (Reply #28)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 11:18 AM

34. Great post.

Thanks pinboy3niner and welcome home my brother.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #1)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 03:15 AM

13. The vets Ive spoken to are the most anti war of all.

 

And some of their war stories are truly horrific.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Reply #13)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 03:18 AM

15. So was my friend

This garbage never happened at demos because some of the guys wearing army jackets were vets, our best allies in stopping that horrible, wasteful and stupid war.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Fri Nov 28, 2014, 10:18 PM

2. Didn't Ann Coulter come up with a spat on story that was shot down in flames a few years

back? The guy was a Marine but was exposed as having some online "Jeff Gannon" like thing going on? Then dissapeared like a whisp of smoke, never to appear on any show again?

I know lots of old hippie type guys and lots of Vietnam vets. You know how guys that are passionate about their deeply held beliefs are. I never heard an old hippie going off about any of the guys that served in Vietnam. The war yes, the government and draft, yes, but never a bad word about a guy that actually got shot at over there. Not once. I find it hard to believe it ever happened. Metiphorically, a lot of guys may feel they didn't get the repect they should have, "spit on" when they came back and believed the stories and embellished that to include themselves. They probably got more disrespect out of VFW types, redneck WWII and Korean War vets that looked at them as loosers than any hippie type protestors.

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Response to brewens (Reply #2)

Fri Nov 28, 2014, 10:19 PM

4. It did happen, but the instances were few and far between.

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Response to GGJohn (Reply #4)

Fri Nov 28, 2014, 10:26 PM

5. Maybe. Any prosecutions you know of? I mean maybe a guy getting spat on and beating the crap out

a couple guys and getting busted for assault? And in a case like that if I was a freakin' witness my memory might just be a little hazy if they had it coming to them! Any spit on's you can confirm even reported resulting in a police investigation? Anything?

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Response to brewens (Reply #5)

Fri Nov 28, 2014, 10:31 PM

7. I can't postively confirm it, but one of my chopper bud's said it happened at SFO as he was

getting ready to catch a cab to go home and I believe him, but as I said, I can't confirm it as I wasn't there at the time of the incident.

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Response to GGJohn (Reply #4)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 03:30 AM

20. "Few and far between..." not really.Ono

 

One of my Uncles lost his life in Vietnam, two others lost their souls.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Fri Nov 28, 2014, 10:28 PM

6. Nobody spit on me because....

I was totally invisible.

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Response to Brother Buzz (Reply #6)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 03:18 AM

14. Brother, not anymore!

 

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Fri Nov 28, 2014, 11:44 PM

8. The spitting on stories are either all bogus,

 

or so close to all as to be the same thing. Not a single incident of such spitting was reported back when the soldiers were returning from Vietnam. So while there may have been some isolated incidents back then, no one was exercised enough to bother to report it to the media.

And today, with a completely voluntary military who have chosen freely to enlist and fight in illegal and immoral wars, no one seems to be spitting on those returning soldiers, and in fact these days (I've seen this more than once) people go out of their way to thank men and women in uniform for their service.

Personally, I'm totally gobsmacked by that, and while I would NEVER spit on someone, and would probably not even indicate I think a person is an idiot to enlist, if any soldiers deserve a lack of respect, it's the current ones. Waterboarding and torture? Raping young girls and killing their families? Never being held accountable for various atrocities? While our soldiers in Vietnam were far from saints, I don't think they managed to accomplish a fraction of the horrors that have occurred in the past thirteen or fourteen years.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Fri Nov 28, 2014, 11:48 PM

9. It didn't happen to me or anyone I know/knew.

I'm always leery about these claims as I was always treated with respect and compassion. I certainly can't say what experience others had, but I have hard time believing anyone getting up in the face of a person just back from killing mission.
I became an anti war protester where I was treated as a hero...maybe that was the difference, but I doubt it.

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Response to jaysunb (Reply #9)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 11:09 AM

32. it's always been hard for me to fathom

as I was involved in the anti-war movement then. The people I knew all cared deeply for the vets. They were our brothers, classmates and friends. I never saw anything but love and concern.

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Response to G_j (Reply #32)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 11:15 AM

33. As with any movement, you'll always have rogue members,

I was never spit on, but I was threatened with violence on a few occasions, the worse was as I described above.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 12:10 AM

10. Think about it....

 

.... do you think a bunch of guys who are half-starved, dehydrated, exhausted, wired to the eyebrows, born-again-hard.... are going to take very much shit from anybody?

Made up bullshit. Nobody ever said shit to me except my fucking dimwit cousin at a holiday meal. "I heard guys cut off ears and stuff.... did you do any of that kinda stuff?" "Sure, asshole, I sent a nice necklace made of teeth back to my mother."

Very quiet at the table for a bit.

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Response to Bigmack (Reply #10)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 03:19 AM

16. ROFL

 

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 01:21 AM

11. A drafted army versus today's volunteer army.

The drafted army was brave enough to go to war, but not brave enough to realize the war was a sham and to fight for those who would be forced to go and die after them.

Thus the Vietnam war was fought on two fronts.

It was a choice between making the older vets happy or letting the younger people younger than yourself be killed.

Only idiot buffoons say we lost the Vietnam war because of the liberal left. It was a war made and executed for right wing profit. And they want to keep people from realising that.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 03:10 AM

12. I think it happened

 

My father never talked about his time in Vietnam. However, if high school, I had to do a paper in my history class and asked him if I could interview. He said yes and it is the first and only time I have talked to him about it. I have seen sadness and tears from my father twice in my life - when his dad died and during that interview.

He was able to vividly explain to me how he was spat upon by many people protesting in California. There is zero doubt in me that he was telling the truth.

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Response to joeglow3 (Reply #12)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 03:33 AM

21. Do you have a copy of the interview?

 

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Response to grahamhgreen (Reply #21)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 11:44 AM

35. I wish

 

As a fifteen year old, I did not see it as more than a school assignment. I would love to have that paper.

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Response to joeglow3 (Reply #12)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 03:36 AM

22. Lots of people NEED it to be false.

 

It happened to my Mother's Brother in San Francisco. I don't doubt my uncle's word.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 03:21 AM

17. We've gotten the baby killer bit in the modern day...

 

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Response to Oktober (Reply #17)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 03:22 AM

18. No one is more guilty than we who sent you.

 

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Response to grahamhgreen (Reply #18)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 03:24 AM

19. That one was during the occupy days..

 

It certainly isn't a regular occurrence...

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Response to Oktober (Reply #17)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 11:09 AM

31. The baby killer claims go all the way back to WWI.

from Wikipedia...."Atrocity propaganda was widespread during World War I, when it was used by all belligerents, playing a major role in creating the wave of patriotism that characterised the early stages of the war. British propaganda is regarded has having made the most extensive use of fictitious atrocities to promote the war effort.
One such story was that German soldiers were deliberately mutilating Belgian babies by cutting off their hands, in some versions even eating them. Eyewitness accounts told of having seen a similarly mutilated baby. "
I removed the foot note notations.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 03:42 AM

23. I believe it happened, but not a lot.

Figuratively, the returning Vietnam Vets were definitely spit on. They were not welcomed home warmly, particularly after the My Lai Massacre.

It's a horrible shame. Most of those soldiers were drafted into that war and were subjected to the usual atrocities of war with the addition of a few unique to the Vietnam Conflict.

IMHO, it is possible to support the troops while also being anti-war.

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Response to blue neen (Reply #23)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 05:21 AM

24. The vets were mostly draftees.

The anti-war movement was on their side, and the draftees fucking well knew it because it was made up of their families and friends.

The "spitting on the troops" story is a Ramboesque abomination of history.

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Response to delrem (Reply #24)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 06:20 AM

25. Yes, I believe that's what I said....

that most of the soldiers were drafted.

Here's an interesting excerpt from an article:

"They treated use terrible when we came home," said Dan Mahoney of Troy, who served as an infantryman with the 101st Airborne in Vietnam."

"When Mahoney flew into a California airport with other veterans, they had to be escorted by police officers who kept the anti-war protesters away from the soldiers."

"We were walking down a line, protected by the cops, but they were still spitting on us, calling us baby-killers," Mahoney said. "We were treated like we had done something wrong. The treatment at home, I think, did more damage than the war did."

"While not a day goes by when he doesn't think about Vietnam, the memory of the fervor that was inspired in some people during that time has largely faded, Mahoney said. No one bothers him about the war anymore; he is more likely to receive a "thank you" for his service."

Read more at: http://www.saratogian.com/general-news/20130330/forty-years-after-the-end-of-the-vietnam-war-veterans-reflect-on-their-homecoming-and-how-treatment-of-veterans-has-evolved

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Response to delrem (Reply #24)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 12:08 PM

36. But it did happen in isolated cases.

Every movement has it's bad actors, and the anti-vietnam war movement wasn't any different.

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Response to GGJohn (Reply #36)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 01:56 PM

37. Of course. But that isn't how the anti-war movement has been characterized.

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Response to delrem (Reply #37)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 05:14 PM

38. I agree.

The huge majority of protesters were respectful and civil towards us, they wanted us out of Vietnam, but didn't want to vilify those that actually served over there, most realized that we were allies, not opponents.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 07:03 AM

26. the true spitting

began when veteran benefits were cut, when the VA hospitals could not take care of the wounded due to budgetary concerns and veterans found themselves homeless.

one only needs to look at the chickenhawks in congress to understand who does the real loogies.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 08:45 AM

27. My father was in Vietnam

He never told stories about being spit upon, but he did have a number of bad incidents with anti-war folks approaching him.

I'm wouldn't go so far as to say spitting incidents didn't happen, because I'm sure they did. Did it happen a lot? Doubtful.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 10:53 AM

30. I was never spit on when I came home. .

 

My flight home the airline stewardess treated me like royalty. The cab driver in Miami who lit up a big fat one and shared it with me on my way to my mothers house and didn't charge me a dime for the ride was nice to me.

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