Tuesday, April 12, 2005

My Sweet Lady Jane

Today the scribe takes aim at one of his favorite targets, Robert J. Caldwell, editor of the "San Diego Union-Tribune" Sunday editorial pullout. His article, "She’s Still Hanoi Jane," http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20050410/news_mz1e10caldwl.html stokes up old and festering sentiments, plays into the far right’s penchant for picking and choosing who and what qualifies as American (because they set the standard), and places the deaths of millions at Ms. Fonda’s feet while ignoring the fact we committed our own injustices in a war that, even 30-plus years on, makes little sense to us.

Here’s what the scribe wrote:


Bob,

Who are you, Dr. Phil?


For some reason Jane Fonda’s admission that posing for pictures and lending her name to the Viet Cong cause were a "betrayal," is insufficient.


An "apology," it would seem, is in order and nothing else will do.

But let’s face it; that won’t do either. Like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, you share a very singular view of what it means to be American and those that don’t fit it, should be gone (though you guys never make clear exactly how).


You write: "Fonda did a lot more in that 1972 visit to North Vietnam than demonstrate her solidarity with those who were shooting down American pilots."

Oh really? And what were the pilots doing? Dropping candy? Or was it napalm on children (pictures we’ve all seen), fire bombs on cities that stripped the trees of leaves and replaced them with human flesh?


"For millions of Americans," you say, "and for millions of South Vietnamese allies, those wounds have yet to heal completely and perhaps never will." (With articles like yours, it’s no wonder).

And what of those on the other side? Children, animals, sentient feeling beings whose only mistake was being on the wrong side of geography, the wrong side of wealth, and the wrong side of an exquisite, technological murder. What of them?


Where is their apology? Where is yours? Where is the apology of the pilots and the silly men who cooked up the domino theory that said if Vietnam fell so would everything else? It did, they didn’t. Remember?


Few act correctly in war, because the rules don’t really permit it. Compared with the common civil discourse, there is something unhinged and inexplicable to those who did not live those times or that particular war. Which is why millions in this country marched against the new war, and why it’s surprising to learn that you are a vet; that having lived the horror, you can wish it on another, soldier or civilian.

Finally, if you love America you must reach out from the flag you’ve swaddled yourself in to those who share the country with you. Those who embrace the right to dissent and find in peace the highest virtue. It may seem silly to you, but it is never a crime.

Hanoi Jane may, like any impassioned young person, have been wrong in the particulars, but she was right about that war, and you are wrong to dredge it up so many years later.

Best,

the highway scribe

And elsewhere:

Did you know that the (p)resident Bush’s "No Child Left Behind Act," passed in 2001, requires school districts to provide the Pentagon with students’ names, addresses and phone numbers so that they may be contacted and recruited for military service?


According to an April 11 piece by Dana Hull in the "San Jose
Mercury" (http://www.mercurynews.com)/) that’s exactly the case. Parents of high school students are understandably upset and somebody with a brain – Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) – has introduced a "Student Privacy Protection Act" to turn the current policy around. Call him and call your own representative, (202) 863-8000, and tell them what a good idea that is.

What gets the scribe’s goat here is not the Bush administration, from which such underhanded policymaking is a habitual tic, but the journalism accompanying the law’s passage. Where was that bit of information? Was there not a single journalist at all the flagship and elite outlets who took the time to read the legislation and got to wondering what educational standards that left no child behind had to do with recruitment? What about Bob Caldwell? Didn’t he know?

Also in the news, John Kerry, in his novel effort to lead a permanent opposition, is beating the drum to prevent John Bolton from becoming our ambassador to the U.N. largely because Bolton hates the U.N.

Kerry sent out an e-mail to his online community Monday. It reads in part:

"Have you ever noticed that in the Bush [a]dministration, the only way to get a job promotion is to bungle our national security? As under secretary of state for arms control and international security for the past four years, Mr. Bolton has achieved little. In fact, we secured more nuclear materials in the two years before September 11th than in the two years after. North Korea and Iran are now burgeoning nuclear states. This record earned John Bolton a nomination to the U.N.?"


Kerry should be a blogger!


He’s against the nomination and thinks one (r)epublican, Sen. Lincoln Chafee (r-RI) can be swayed. And that’s all it would take to send this hack back to the think tank.

Chafee, by the way, was the guy who killed the (p)resident’s horseshit "Clear Skies Initiative" for dirtying up the skies ("Honky Cat," March 10). Give him a call at (202) 224 2921 and tell him to do the right thing again by shoving Bolton up Bush’s ass.


Finally, Ronald Brownstein, "L.A. Times," wrote an article, "Bush’s Neglect of Consensus May Be Kindling Fiery Senate Showdown," about how W’s sinking poll numbers are not unwelcome at a White House that "operates at the margins" and works merely to please its base.


"He appears content to operate as president of half the country," writes Brownstein, who must have known this before November, but couldn’t find a good reason to write it down.

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