“Come senators, congressmenPlease heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he who gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it’s ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a changin’.” – Bob Dylan, 1963
That’s right, folks, nineteen hundred and sixty-three. I was thirteen years old and I was told that the big bad communists in North Vietnam just shot at one of our destroyers. I was told that, if we didn’t fight back, the North Vietnamese were going to take over Democratic South Vietnam and then Laos, Cambodia, Burma, The Philippines and even New Zealand and Australia would fall!
After misleading the American people about the phantom attack on the American destroyer Maddox in The Gulf of Tonkin, Lyndon Johnson went so far as to proclaim, “If we quit Vietnam, tomorrow we'll be fighting in Hawaii and next week we'll have to fight in San Francisco.”
My god, people, what in the hell does this sound like to you! Does this not reek of “if we don’t fight them over there, we’ll have to fight them over here.”?
What I wasn’t told when I was thirteen was that the very same commander who reported being attacked by the North Vietnamese in The Gulf Of Tonkin on August 4, 1964, Captain John Herrick, retracted his original report after further investigation.
However, Lyndon Johnson, getting all he needed with the first, erroneous report, ignored Herrick’s correction and the rest, as they say, is one goddamned sad history.