April 08, 2003

You Should Check out That N...

You Should Check out That Napoleon Mini-Series: Saw it this Christmas in French, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Clavier is a convincing, charismatic Leetle Fella; Malkovich goes for pure camp, and the outdoor settings will take your breath. I could have stood for less touchy-feely, more military strategy (and constitution-writing!), but you can't win 'em all.

Have been embroiled with taxes, Lileksian reorganizations, French film-festival openings (featuring the inevitable line, "Welcome to the Freedom film festival"), hilariously botched Ben Affleck tryouts, Dodger openers, and other non-blog activities. Will hopefully get back on track soon, and fill in some blanks. Until then, I have a question: Last night, quaffing Chirac-subsidized champagne, I fell into a polite debate about "supporting our troops" with a 56-year-old lefty (who actively did not). At some point I suggested that the passion for the whole "support our troops" thing, besides being self-evident to people like me, may be fueled by a collective leftover guilt for people spitting on returning Vietnam vets at the airport.

"THAT NEVER HAPPENED," he snapped. "That is an urban legend, and a deliberate lie. I'm so sick of hearing that. I was there, and it NEVER HAPPENED." (Quotes are from memory, and so extremely inexact.) My question for y'all who were there, and/or who have read much about it: Is this true? Did anti-war activists taunt returning vets? Did it happen a lot, never, just once, etc.? Being born in 1968 & all, my only Vietnam-era memory of national affairs was the 1974 World Series, which we watched over at my Great Uncle George's, while my Dad & gramps went to Chavez Ravine to scalp tickets.

Posted by at April 8, 2003 05:10 PM
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Went to Game One: saw Hunter outduel Messersmith, Lopes score from first on a single, and Ferguson throw out Sal Bando at the plate from deep right-center. Other than that, a forgettable Series; the only other thing worth remembering for Dodger fans is that Willie Crawford hit one out in Game 3.

Posted by: Steve Smith at April 8, 2003 05:28 PM

So what you're telling us, Steve, is that the '74 World Series did in fact happen?

Posted by: Scott at April 8, 2003 05:42 PM

Yep--still have the ticket stub to prove it. Oh, I forgot: Bill Buckner also went yard for LA in Game 3.

Posted by: Steve Smith at April 8, 2003 06:57 PM

No spitting, probably. See a book review of The Spitting Image. The guy has done tons of research and can't find a verifiable account of veterans being spat upon.

http://www.rlg.org/annmtg/lembcke99.html

Posted by: Josh at April 8, 2003 07:01 PM

I recall the "spitting on 'nam vets" being debunked, too, although in usual helpful fashion I can't recall *where* I read that. It was quite a while ago. For some reason this factoid is tied in my brain alongside the release of the Tom Cruise movie about the 'nam vet/activist dude.

What might work as a perfectly acceptable substitute in such an argument is to replace the possibly bogus spitting-on-vets with the very real lack of big rah-rah parades for soldiers coming home from Southeast Asia.

Anyway, I sure don't feel any guilt about any of that, as I was a small fry back then. And if anybody *did* mistreat the kids who got drafted and hauled off to Vietnam and managed to get home alive, I'm fairly sure they're in the far left edge of the 15-odd percent of the country still crazily against a war that's almost over, so they won't be supporting the troops anytime soon.

Posted by: Ken Layne at April 8, 2003 08:18 PM

So... "hilariously botched"?

Posted by: Jim Treacher at April 8, 2003 09:26 PM

I was in the Army in '71, '72 and '73. I often flew between San Jose, California, (via San Francisco Intl), Houston, Texas, and Alaska quite a few times, and never had an unpleasant experience, and I always flew in uniform because I think you could fly half fare as a military stand-by if you were in uniform. I think that was the reason. Hell, that's so long ago, and even then I was an older draftee, being in my mid-20s and all. I vote urban legend. A decade or so back, that Chicago columnist, (Jimmy Breslin?) someone from Chicago, asked for anecdotes to use in a book he wanted to do about this specific subject. I wrote to him but I never heard back. I just figured he already knew what he was going to write about, and my story wasn't helpful. Oh well. Cheers.

Posted by: rlbtzero at April 8, 2003 09:55 PM

It didn't happen to my brothers (one served in Vietnam, another was in the military at the time), as far as I know.

When I worked with veterans in San Diego, I had one tell me he was given shit a couple of times by hippies, but I don't recall him saying specifically he was spit upon.

I also had a college professor (Allen Hancock College in Santa Maria) who, as a student at UCSB, said he had a professor kick another student (a returning vet, obviously) out of his philosophy class for being a "baby killer."

But of course, that is merely hearsay.

More often than not, Vietnam vets (and I've had ocassion to talk with and interview more than a few of them) felt more that they got a cold, unwelcoming shoulder and felt that it was not a good thing to admit to being a vet. That may be a fault more of their own perception than actual societal reaction.

Posted by: Howard Owens at April 8, 2003 11:47 PM

That 56 year old dude wasn't wearing a beret, a green uniform and glasses, was he? Cuz Skippy's not been seen for awhile. At any rate, every time I hear someone do the whole vehement denial thing, I'll only be able to think of Skippy standing in the parking lot declaring that there are no Americans in Baghdad and that tales of their presence are lies -ALL LIES!

I could tell you stories, but they'd all be hearsay. I can only go on what my family members have told me and what most Viet Nam-era officers that have talked to us have related. Since I know them and know not Skippy, I'll go with what they say over some aging hippie dude who'd have reasons to be guilty about past tran

I was never spat at, but I do remember the girls that stood outside gate at Oakland Army Base with bags of doggy poo that they would throw at people in uniform.

I was only called a "babykiller" a couple of times. I would usually ask if they had any children I could practice on now that I was back in the States.

Posted by: Just Some Poor Schmuck at April 11, 2003 07:49 PM

I was never spat upon. I was yelled at, given the finger, and so forth, but all from beyond-spittle distance. It must have been because I wasn't in a wheelchair.
Bob Green wrote a book on the subject, including the urban-legend possibility. I checked out one story, which happened close to my home, and found the vet's mother remembered it and the church secretary as well. The pastor in question claims not to have been there that day and is sure his replacement wouldn't have done it.
Being active in the Presbyterian church, I take clergy's word for anything at substantially below par.
My guess is that spitting happened, but, because of the relatively limited effective range of the weapon system, not as often as we hear. The other stuff happened, I am confident in saying, because some of it happened to me.
I also asked, some years ago, an ex-local SDS leader, now a professor (natch) about his minions' harassing the families of soldiers serving in SEA, including hoax calls of their deaths.
He admitted they didn't have what he thought would have been sufficient discipline, which is to say that he admitted it happened and that he was really broken up about it (or being caught at it).

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at April 14, 2003 08:31 AM
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ure as hell got harassed, screamed at, refused service in coffee houses, etc.

Posted by: Charlie at April 10, 2003 10:10 AM

I suppose I knew there had to be Vietnam veterans (from the American side) named "Charlie", but I still laughed. Sorry, man.

Posted by: Colby Cosh at April 11, 2003 06:42 AM

I was never spat at, but I do remember the girls that stood outside gate at Oakland Army Base with bags of doggy poo that they would throw at people in uniform.

I was only called a "babykiller" a couple of times. I would usually ask if they had any children I could practice on now that I was back in the States.

Posted by: Just Some Poor Schmuck at April 11, 2003 07:49 PM

I was never spat upon. I was yelled at, given the finger, and so forth, but all from beyond-spittle distance. It must have been because I wasn't in a wheelchair.
Bob Green wrote a book on the subject, including the urban-legend possibility. I checked out one story, which happened close to my home, and found the vet's mother remembered it and the church secretary as well. The pastor in question claims not to have been there that day and is sure his replacement wouldn't have done it.
Being active in the Presbyterian church, I take clergy's word for anything at substantially below par.
My guess is that spitting happened, but, because of the r, because some of it happened to me.
I also asked, some years ago, an ex-local SDS leader, now a professor (natch) about his minions' harassing the families of soldiers serving ieen there that day and is sure his replacement wouldn't have done it.
Being active in the Presbyterian church, I take clergy's word for anything at substantially below par.
My guess is that spitting happened, but, because of the relatively limited effective range of the weapon system, not as often as we hear. The other stuff happened, I am confident in saying, because some of it happened to me.
I also asked, some years ago, an ex-local SDS leader, now a professor (natch) about his minions' harassing the families of soldiers serving in SEA, including hoax calls of their deaths.
He admitted they didn't have what he thought would have been sufficient discipline, which is to say that he admitted it happened and that he was really broken up about it (or being caught at it).

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at April 14, 2003 08:31 AM
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