March 1, 2007

The Vietnam ‘No Spitting on Soldiers Occurred’ Myth: Jim Lindgren Piles on (Yours Truly Adds a Little)

It has taken him a couple of weeks, but most of the follow-ups to Jim Lindgren’s report from a few weeks ago (the one that, among other things, had Pulitzer Prize winner James Reston report on the spitting that took place at one of the earlier antiwar demonstrations in Washington in 1967) are now posted at Volokh.

Here’s the Lindgren chronology:
- Feb. 3 — Vietnam Spitting
- Feb. 8 — Many 1967-72 Spitting Incidents Are Documented in the Press
- Feb. 21 — Spitting Report, Part II: Of Civilian Airports and Attempted Debunkings
- Feb. 21 — Spitting Report IV: Opposition To The Troops
- Feb. 22 — Spitting Report V: Servicemen and Anti-War Activists at the Airport
- Feb. 23 — Spitting Report VI: Academic Folklore

Lindgren also has an “all on one page link” that, as of post time, goes through the February 21 posts.

Lindgren apparently has even more to come.

Lembcke has posted a response here. I would characterize it as very lame.

Just for starters, his first point is “I’ve never said I knew that spitting did not happen.” Technically true, but Lembcke said this in 2005 in the Boston Globe (bolds are mine):

For a book I wrote in 1998 I looked back to the time when the spit was supposedly flying, the late 1960s and early 1970s. I found nothing. No news reports or even claims that someone was being spat on.

Lembcke’s response point is Clintonesque parsing; the Globe column text is clearly written with the goal of making us THINK that the the supposed “spitting did not happen.” This is doubly ironic — Now he claims not to KNOW that spitting didn’t happen because he wasn’t “there,” but people who do say they were spat on (i.e., that they WERE there) don’t count unless they have courtroom-level proof.

The rest of Lembcke’s response doesn’t get any better, and I’ll leave it to Lindgren, who has said he will deal with it, to do just that.

Meanwhile, I’ve been tipped by Right in a Left World to the following tidbits, which originated in a comments at the SwiftVets site.

The first comes from former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey, and is found in an article that originally appeared in the Boston Globe in 2001. It is still posted at the Senate web site of (…. savor the moment ….) John Kerry. About 2/3 of the way through, Bob Kerrey writes:

We returned home to an America that was indifferent, even hostile. There were no parades, only nightmares. Veterans were spat upon, called baby-killers, our uniforms themselves targeted us for ridicule from those who could never understand our pain. The war stories we had did not uplift, but rather repelled. For many vets, it was simply impossible to explain, so silence became the only option.

Yeah, I know. It’s not contemporaneous. It’s not “first-hand.” It’s “only” a former US Senator and 1992 presidential candidate, who in his travels and his campaigning must have “only” spoken to hundreds, if not thousands, of other former Nam vets. For the holdouts, it doesn’t “count,” even if they in essence have to call a former US Senator a brainwashed dupe in the process.

The second item truly is a choice one. The SwiftVet commenter wouldn’t link it because it goes to the web site of a Jane Fonda documentary (“Sir! No Sir!”). I appreciate the sentiment, but I will link to this. It is the third listing in this search of the documentary’s library database on the word “spit.” We are indebted to Ms. Fonda and the documentary’s conscientious librarians for being so thorough. The excerpt is from the link’s 1st, 2nd, and 4th paras:

Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win. The war in Vietnam has dragged on now for over seven years. Countless numbers of American youth have died there and still die there today…..

Now we go into Cambodia as frontline soldiers under Nixon…..

….. Last summer M.D.M. had its beginnings in Duck Power and Attitude Check. In the fall M.D.M. became official. What was it? It was a group of these GI’s who were tired of all the shit they were getting, tired of all the killing and seeing their friends dying, tired of getting hassled every day, tired of getting spit on in the streets of America. So they met and drew up twelve demands, and set out to gain those demands. They dared to struggle, they dared to win control of their own destiny. We are still struggling and still winning. M.D.M. now has eight chapters and is still growing.

Placed in historical context, the publication is almost definitely from 1970 (Nixon sent troops into Cambodia on April 30, 1970). That’s quite a bit before 1980, when Jerry Lembcke says the spitting stories began to appear.

Yeah, I know. “Not first-person.” “Not a real publication.” I suppose someone out there will even try to stretch and say that those involved in MDM were being spat on by supporters of the war.

Oh please, stop it already. A much better idea would be for the holdouts to utter the six magic words: “We were wrong. We are sorry.” Whether y’all apologize or not, you’re definitely wrong, and you’re the sorriest bunch I’ve come across in quite a while.


Previous Posts:

  • Feb. 9 — Jim Lindgren Smashes the ‘Stories of spat-upon Vietnam veterans are bogus’ Myth
  • Feb. 6 — More Vietnam-Era Spitting Stories (from Library Database Research Jerry Lembcke Has Chosen to Ignore)
  • Feb. 5 — ‘Spittle-ize THIS’ Update: Jerry Lembcke’s ‘Search for Evidence’ Appears Not to Have Gone Very Far (copied Post)
  • Feb. 4 — ‘Spittle-ize THIS’ Update: Jerry Lembcke’s ‘Search for Evidence’ Appears Not to Have Gone Very Far (Original Post)
  • Feb. 4 — A Lot of People Need to Start Walking The ‘No Spitting on Viet Vets’ Claim Back, and Quickly

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