Theodore's World: The Revolt Of The Vietnam Veterans

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March 21, 2008

The Revolt Of The Vietnam Veterans

The revolt of the Vietnam veterans

San Diego Union Tribune

By Bruce Kesler
December 19, 2004

Post mortems in the liberal press on the role that Vietnam veterans played in presidential candidate John Kerry's defeat mask the key role of the liberal press, which tried to suppress the vets' story and is distorting it now. I was there at the creation of a veterans group and all along, and know better. The American people deserve to know better too.

In 1971 I organized Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace. John O'Neill enlisted to counter the smears of American servicemen in Vietnam. No one else spoke up for us, so we had to. The mainstream press was more diverse than today and we got a spotty but honest hearing.

Kerry's light dimmed then. Americans got the message that a motley crew of exaggerators and frauds didn't speak for Vietnam veterans. We said our piece and went home, back to our diverse, nonpolitical lives.

Meanwhile, anti-Vietnam war protesters of the 1960s marched through academia and the media to claim its power as their own. In 2004, they fought to defend their self-image by defaming that of anti-Kerry Vietnam veterans.

In February 2004, anti-Kerry Vietnam veterans were shocked that he won the Democratic nomination. The mainstream media blessed this coronation. No one except Kerry and his advisers really wanted to revisit Vietnam, but they saw it as a way to appeal to anti and pro-war voters.

Kerry's Vietnam veteran opponents hadn't been in contact for over 30 years, so we searched each other out. Scott Swett, creator of that collected research on Kerry's protest activities, was an invaluable connector among us, creating an Internet political network that bound us together.

While we knew all too well about Kerry's anti-Vietnam protest period, we compared notes and surprised ourselves at the extent of deceptions in Kerry's self-hagiography about being a sterling war hero. It was intolerable that John Kerry brazenly glorified this suspect record to centerpiece his few months as a junior officer 35 years ago as qualification to lead the United States in this most challenging time since the Cold War.

The liberal media portrayed anti-Kerry Vietnam veterans as a long-planned, far-right funded conspiracy of liars. That's far, far from the truth. The real story is like the Minutemen, rising from peaceful lives to spontaneously come together to again fight for the America we so deeply love.

There was little or no coordination, just mutual support, with each volunteer shooting from behind his own tree in the same direction. We came to know each other on the field of our revolt against the false image created by Kerry of himself in the media and the false image Kerry was instrumental in painting of us and America.

John O'Neill got off his sickbed. He asked me whether I had the contacts and resources to lead as I did in 1971, which I didn't, and he dug in his own pocket to get the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth started. Vietnam veterans from every service, and Americans from every walk of life, joined in and followed O'Neill into political combat.

Early in the year a friend with access to the Kerry campaign warned me it was digging for any kind of dirt to destroy us. Contrary to the liberal media's story that we surprised Kerry in August, he thought the mainstream media could succeed in ignoring and stifling the Swift Boat veterans, and he had long planned a new smear campaign against us.

The surprise to the Kerry camp and liberal press was that the new media did break through and that Vietnam veterans could not be intimidated. In August, as reported by Newsweek, Kerry operatives fed negative documents and talking points to the New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe. Subsequent articles in those newspapers reflected negatively on the Swiftees.

With only one halting exception, the mainstream media refused to investigate the sworn affidavits of 60 credible witnesses to Kerry's behavior, or to follow up on the abundance of additional information given them. The New York Times repeatedly used "unsubstantiated" as its adjective describing the Swift Boat veterans' allegations without ever exerting its considerable power to investigate.

Kerry wasn't pressured by the mainstream media to reveal his full military records to resolve issues, nor questioned as to what he was hiding. The mainstream media's zeal in chasing down every scrap of trivia about Bush's service stands in sharp contrast. That alone strongly suggested a liberal bias.

This behavior by some of the liberal media was purposeful. The survival of their favored candidate was endangered by our truth and facts. As important, the self-image of many reporters was endangered. Their myths of our pervasive evils in defending Vietnamese freedom, and of their valiant memories of mounting school libraries' ramparts, could not take the incongruence of exposure.

In the campaign to discredit anti-Kerry Vietnam veterans, some charged that we were reviving an old vendetta. Actually, we had ignored Kerry until last February. Some charged that we were refighting a cultural war from the '60s. Again, untrue. Many of us smoked marijuana, rocked to the same songs, grew the same long hair. We're Democrats, independents and Republicans.

The true post mortem of Kerry's defeat is simply the last hurrah of simple patriots, amateurishly but fervently rising up and banding together, with few resources, to defeat the mainstream media's boy and juggernaut. Polls and the election show we succeeded.

Wild Thing's comment........

This is a great article and what a time that was too. Vietnam Veterans gathering together at the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth website and all across the internet at various forums. Posting their hearts out as they did all they could do to counter John Kerry's lies and bring the truth to the media and to all of America and the entire world.

During that time I did not have a blog, but I did have my website and what an honor it was to meet (online) some of the Swift Boat Veterans. I still have my emails from John O'Neil and Tom Forrest (when he was President of the "Swift Boat Sailors Association" (SBSA). Tom passed away May 1, 2006 . My last email from him was in March of 2006 and I am so glad I was able to tell him how grateful America was for all that Swift Boat Veterans had done.

The reason we do not have John Kerry for President is due to the hard work of the Vietnam Veterans and yes their revolt which was a great success.

You can see Tom's photos and a small write up at my Tribute to Vietnam Vets page.

When a person serves their country it has always been my hope that they could know their fight was done and they could come home and enjoy the freedoms that they fought for and served our country to preserve. But when John Kerry entered the race they all went right back into the most amazing fight for our country.

Thank you.

....Thank you Mark for sending this article to me.

Posted by Wild Thing at March 21, 2008 02:45 AM


Wild Thing - your description of the Swifties and other Vietnam vets as latter day Minutemen rising to the new challenge is very apt. Most of us Vietnam vets knew Kerry as a despicable traitor and turncoat. Luckily a stalwart few of our brothers had the skills and determination to start a public outing of Kerry's misdeeds and phony presentation. And, yes, it was done in battle against the power of the MSM. This time our victory was completed.

Thank You Chrissie and Mark for this post.

Posted by: TomR at March 21, 2008 09:25 AM

Thank you Chrissie and Mark. That same media nas found a new misfit anti-American to replace Kerry, one with deeper and more insidious roots.

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." -- Wendell Phillips,

Posted by: Jack at March 21, 2008 11:34 AM

When I saw this I had to send it to WT. I thought it was so appropriate for today. It was about this time in 1970 that after being out for almost 3 years I re-enlisted, after losing more jobs than I care to remember. The Anti-war crap was in full swing and I fit in no where, especially with my attitude. This was about the time Kerry and his VVAW were making headlines, which I just couldn't believe and got into alot of arguments(minimum) with people who believed every word this scum maggot had to say.

AFter I got out the second time I didn't bother talking to anybody about the War, Vietnam, it just didn't matter, anything I said was always disputed and I had another fight on my hands. So I brooded about it for quite a long time.

Then in 2003 when Kerry started to make his run, I met Rhod, on line, and we talked and talked and similar experiences. This I guess is a public Thank You to Rhod, for helping me deal with alot I had tried to forget. It was during this fight against Kerry I realized I had nothing to be ashamed of.

Then here with everybody here there are guys who felt, I believe, the same way, but it was then I started to see the light.

So I wanted to Thank, Rhod, WT and everybody here for my own salvation and sanity.

Posted by: Mark at March 21, 2008 01:03 PM

Tom, thanks, it was such an excellent article.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 22, 2008 12:28 AM

Jack, yes we are being presented a new version of traitor in this election.

Good quote too.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 22, 2008 12:32 AM

Mark, thanks for sharing about that, it means a lot. Mark, you make such a difference in so many lives, I am honored to know you. This is a little home online and yes you are very much among others that feel, know and think in similar ways.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 22, 2008 12:41 AM