Friday, October 22, 2004

I watch “Stolen Honor” so you don’t have to

Although if you want to, you can find it here. This is the original, not the version that just aired. And I’m using a not-completely-accurate “rush transcript” from Daily Kos to check quotes against my own notes, but I went into it fresh.

Before I forget: every anti-Kerry former POW interviewed in the film is white. I assume because we only sent white people to fight in Vietnam.

The argument, if one can distinguish it with that word, is that Kerry’s 1971 testimony was a stab in the back (Dolchstoß, in the original German version of this theme),

which resulted in the US losing the Vietnam war (“a cause lost more at home than on the battlefield”), and POWs being kept by the Vietnamese longer than they would otherwise have been (“the anti-war crowd...owe us two years”) (I know how he feels: the makers of this film owe me 42 minutes of my life back).

I’m a little unsure of the causality of all this, but John Kerry in 1971 was evidently the most powerful person in the country--who knew? Because Kerry called some American soldiers “war criminals,” the North Vietnamese thought that the POWs they held must be war criminals and... no, sorry, the logic escapes me.

The existence of actual war crimes is rejected out of hand, Kerry accused of knowingly lying about them. My Lai is mentioned in order to dismiss it, in the fashion of Rumsfeld talking about Abu Ghraib, as an isolated incident, and anyway wasn’t Lt. Calley punished? (With about a year of rather luxurious house arrest, as I recall). There is some talk, mostly from wives of former POWs, of the US military being over there just to help the Vietnamese people.

It should be pointed out that Kerry’s crime consisted of talking (oh, and he went to North Vietnam too) and being believed. He “wrote the first draft of history,” creating the image of the American soldier in Vietnam that has dominated media portrayals (they really don’t like Apocalypse Now, which oddly enough they hold Kerry responsible for).

They don’t like him having talked about Vietnam in 1971, and they don’t like him talking about Vietnam now. “By making his actions during and after the war the corner-stone of his political career, he forces us to feel again the old agonies and regurgitate old doubts.” At this point, the film just sounds whiny.

So the themes are 1) Kerry is a big ol’ liar, 2) criticizing a war while it’s going on, or even 30 years later, is bad, and 3) we don’t want to have to regurgitate old doubts. In fact, doubt is bad, period. And Jane Fonda also sucks.

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