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Page 8
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<< 7. Letter from a U.S. Gulag9. The New Winter Soldiers: GI and Veteran Dissent During the Vietnam Era by Richard Moser >>

My View

By John Zutz

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I was listening to the speeches at the VVAW's Chicago celebration of the 20th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam war, and I looked around and realized what an unusual gathering it was. At every other VVAW event there is some area set aside for "attitude adjustment."

Then I realized that maybe the whole country needs some attitude adjustment:

  • When the tight budgets of George Bush's "kinder, gentler America" mutate into a leaner, meaner America in three years;

  • When the VA shuts down beds at a time when the largest group of veterans is reaching retirement age and will need them most;

  • When a handful of MIA zealots dictate foreign policy, by denying normalized relations with Vietnam;

  • When sexual orientation is considered to be more important then ability in military service;

  • When training Latin American military members to terrorize, torture, and "disappear" legitimate political rivals is desirable, while our education system can't teach kids to read at an eighth grade level;

  • When it's decided that we can't afford heath care for everyone, while spending more on "defense" then the rest of the world combined;

  • When the Bill of Rights is interpreted to include warrantless searches, and an anti flag burning amendment is even considered;

  • When we allow congress to add $2.5 billion to the military budget for B2 bombers which now are of no use, and a Trident submarine that even the Pentagon doesn't want;

  • When a president is tempted to over turn a bipartisan military base closing list for political reasons to save military related jobs in selected areas;

  • When our government has so little credibility that right wingers feel forced to take violent action, forming militias, stockpiling weapons, and making and exploding bombs;


Perhaps the most obvious sign of the need for attitude adjustment is when people sit around carping about our problems, but feel helpless to do anything about then. If we want to adjust other people's attitudes, we need to adjust our own attitudes first.

Its nice to sit back and congratulate ourselves about past triumphs. We were right about the Vietnam War, even McNamara says so. We were right about women's rights, civil rights, and human rights, the Supreme Court has agreed with us (though they are backing off recently). But the pendulum is swinging away from individual rights, and is tending to favor corporate rights.

That pendulum will swing back again, but it will need our help, and the help of many others, to push it back. We need to stand up for causes. Pick one of those above. Pick one of your own. Go to work.

<< 7. Letter from a U.S. Gulag9. The New Winter Soldiers: GI and Veteran Dissent During the Vietnam Era by Richard Moser >>