World Champion Muhammad Ali is an honest American hero of the ‘Vietnam War’, correctly called “The American War” by the Vietnamese who managed to survived it.
Ali had the courage to stand up for an upright America even though it did not exist (except maybe in the minds of still segregated Afro-Americans). Ali inspired thousands to resist being drafted, and the 125,000 who fled to Canada rather than be invaders and killers of innocent foreigners in their very own country, they too, are in a sense veterans and Americans we can be truly proud of.
Tears of joy come to one’s eyes when one sees a newsreel of young Ali firmly saying that he would not participate in an unjust war against the Vietnamese. Ali is as much a veteran of that war as those who did participate in that violence of genocidal terrorism against a nation of people who had been an ally of America against the Japanese and Vichy French who occupying its homeland.
How many veterans knew anything about the country they were willingly going to bomb and shoot people in? Ignorance has never been an excuse before the law.
Shall they be honored in 2007 for their ignorance then, and for the killing they managed to get done in a war now euphemistically explained away as ‘a mistake’? Oops? Any thought to the millions that were high altitude carpet bombed, napalmed, ‘searched and destroyed’, massacred?
A ‘mistake’? For sure! Because America lost, and was eventually thrown out. But not an honest ‘mistake’, and of course, no reparations paid out to the victims of America’s ‘mistake’, nor even public apologies given.
Sure, Americans can blame the insidious, relentless and deceptively inclusive anti-communist war propaganda by media, naively thought to be free and uncontrolled by the military-industrial conglomerate complex.
But lets remember, boxer Ali, actress Jane Fonda, minister Martin Luther King Jr., professors like MIT’s Noam Chomsky, and millions people across the United States and the world were not fooled in the least.
Millions beautiful Vietnamese men, women and children - every one of them is worth remembering on Veterans Day as well. Maybe even more so, because they died in their own country, most in their own towns, many in their very own homes because the veterans honored on Veterans Day came to their country, armed and uninvited.
Vietnam veterans should most certainly be remembered, but remembered and respected as home-side victims of an illegal, monstrous and pitiless American war upon an Asian colonial population.
Members of the Veterans For Peace and Vietnam Vets Against the War organizations hold the Vietnamese they were ordered to fight in high esteem with painful feelings of regret and compassion. And they have deep compassion for themselves and their fellow veterans who were made to follow immoral orders, and usually didn't have the presence of mind, education or courage to refuse to follow such orders. They were not able to serve their country well, nor any humanitarian cause of freedom, and certainly not their own human conscience.
Veteran, now Senator, McCain who flew 23 bombing missions knowing that Eisenhower had written in his book that if there had been an all Vietnam election (blocked by Ike himself), that Ho Chi Minh would have won by a plurality of more than 80%. McCain just followed military orders, as an unthinking automaton?
Veteran and presidential candidate, John Kerry, who said he killed a South Vietnamese before realizing it was wrong during his reenlisted tour of duty. He then went before Congress to denounce U.S. war crimes. But his nomination ceremony thirty years later Vietnam Vets paraded to thunderous applause - the ‘Vietnam War’ had become heroic again.
Muhammad Ali did not need to go to Vietnam to know it was wrong, and he has never changed his mind.
Former Governor, Senator, now President of New School University, Bob Kerrey, who on "60 Minutes" was exposed by his own point man of having had his Seals gun down 19 young women and children, after seeing to the throat cutting of an elderly man and his family, accepted a medal for doing it, under a report of 'enemy successfully killed’. It never occurred to this now highly placed educator to pull the media into the dock it had placed him in, decades after originally teaching him merciless and indiscriminate anti-communism.