Clearing the Fog
in the
War of Words


  logomachy--1. A dispute about words. 2. A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.
logomachon--1. One who argues about words. 2. A word warrior.



Piece of My Heart

This post is a bit personal. Maybe the parts don’t have any connection, except that they happened to me.
Richard Kerry, John Kerry's father, was a disgruntled career State Department counsel. In 1990 he published his summa, The Star-Spangled Mirror. It has recently been republished with an extended subtitle: The Star-Spangled Mirror: A Father's Legacy Shapes John Kerry's Worldview.

Here is how the publisher describes Richard Kerry's view of proper US foreign policy:
The Star-Spangled Mirror captures the dilemma of America's continuing reliance on an enduring fallacy of foreign policy--the assumption that other people ought to share our view of world order. Dr. Richard Kerry argues that from the time of Woodrow Wilson's aim to organize the world order in accordance with assumptions of democratic universalism, this vision of the world has remained central to U.S. foreign policy. The Star-Spangled Mirror will be considered an important addition to the history of American foreign policy and as required reading for current and future policy makers.[emphasis added--ed.]
John Kerry's application of this principle has been brutal. He often cloaks his positions in the mantle of respect for the nuances of cultural differences. In practice, eschewing the "enduring fallacy" of "democratic universalism" has meant supporting tyranny and opposing liberation on every occasion.

In the case of Vietnam, he dismissed the idea that the Vietnamese people wanted or deserved freedom, and that the US was fighting to make it possible.

President Nixon said of Vietnam, “. . . the question is whether or not we will leave that country to the Communists or whether or not we will try to give it hope to be a free people”. To which Kerry replied with fine irrelevance: “But the point is they are not a free people now under us. They are not a free people, and we cannot fight Communism all over the World, and I think we should have learned that lesson by now.”

He was wrong about that, but he’s never unlearned the lesson.

And again: “We found most people didn't even know the difference between communism and democracy. . . . They practiced the art of survival by siding with whichever military force was present at a particular time, be it Vietcong, North Vietnamese, or American.”

And “to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom . . . is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy.”

That would have been the post, but while I was working on it, I went to the Haverford Public Library, where I saw a table with Douglas Brinkley's biography of John Kerry, Tour of Duty, on a display stand. Lying about on the table were a dozen other books about the Vietnam War. I picked up one I knew about but hadn’t looked at, Piece of My Heart: The Stories of 26 American Women who Served in Vietnam, and started flipping through it. My eye fell on a story by Lily Jean Lee Adams, who was an Army nurse in Cu Chi in 1968 on p.320.

Shortly after arriving in Vietnam, Adams was assigned to care for a seriously ill North Vietnamese POW. She hadn’t come to Vietnam to “take care of gooks”, but the man was believed to have important information that could save American lives. After a shift of constantly monitoring and adjusting the young man’s medication, she had become attached to her patient, and when the interrogators arrived, she was thinking “If they start slapping him around, I’m going to start slapping them around, because I worked my ass off to keep this kid alive”.

After listening to the interrogation, she got to ask the prisoner/patient a question.
I said, “He doesn’t have to answer if he doesn’t want to, but I’d like to know how he feels about the war.” The interpretation was—and he looked straight at me when he said it—“If I could march in Hanoi like you are marching in Washington, D.C., I would be doing it”.
That hit me. I had to walk to a quiet part of the library to compose myself. For the first time, I nearly hated John Kerry and all the rest of the smug, posturing, strident, over-bearing, self-righteous, pious, pompous “anti-war” movement. While John Kerry sanctimoniously indicted America for being racist, even as he dismissed the Vietnamese for being indifferent to liberty, a 19-year-old North Vietnamese soldier was showing more brilliance of spirit and respect for freedom—American freedom—than John Kerry has ever had in his bleak and blasted life.



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