U.S. servicemembers in uniform aren't coming under attack by anyone in the Resistance, or even by Antifa -- but that inconvenient fact isn't preventing Fox News from running a Veterans Day editorial warning that such attacks may soon take place.
I remember when I first heard a Vietnam veteran’s story. I was captivated as he described his desperate attempts to render aid as his dying best friend bled out in front of him. Half a world away and decades later in 2008, the scene was still painful for him to recall. But the most shocking part of the story was his return home.
My heroic friend described having to change out of his uniform before roaming American streets – or else he’d be subject to threats. I was only 15 and I simply couldn’t believe that civilians would spit on, curse and even attack returning veterans. And all this happened on American soil.
A professor and writer named Jeremy Lembcke has spent many years arguing that these stories about Vietnam-era attacks on the troops are apocryphal:
I collect the stories ... and have a spreadsheet with about 220 first-person “I was spat on” accounts.
... there is no corroboration or documentary evidence, such as newspaper reports from the time, that they are true. Many of the stories have implausible details, like returning soldiers deplaning at San Francisco Airport, where they were met by groups of spitting hippies. In fact, return flights landed at military air bases like Travis, from which protesters would have been barred. Others include claims that military authorities told them on returning flights to change into civilian clothes upon arrival lest they be attacked by protesters. Trash cans at the Los Angeles airport were piled high with abandoned uniforms, according to one eyewitness, a sight that would surely have been documented by news photographers — if it had existed.
Lembcke has written a book on the subject. He cites "a 1971 Harris Poll survey that found that 99 percent of veterans said their reception from friends and family had been friendly, and 94 percent said their reception from age-group peers, the population most likely to have included the spitters, was friendly," adding,
A follow-up poll, conducted in 1979 for the Veterans Administration (now the Department of Veterans Affairs), reported that former antiwar activists had warmer feelings toward Vietnam veterans than toward congressional leaders or even their erstwhile fellow travelers in the movement.
But let's get back to Jeremy Hunt's opinion piece:
Serving in the Army today, my peers and I have a very different experience. When we wear our uniforms in public we get pats on the back, offers to pay for our meals, and warm remarks expressing gratitude for our service. Certainly, much has changed for the better. But sometimes I wonder if things will always be this way.
If anything is clear in American culture, it’s that yesterday’s taboo is today’s status quo. The more we normalize disrespect to the national anthem, applaud pledge of allegiance protests, and entertain discussions about how democratic ideals are somehow inherently flawed – the easier it will be to disrespect the people who are sworn to protect those ideals. In other words, what’s preventing Americans from mistreating service members in the future as a form of protest?
So it isn't happening -- but it might, so let's condemn it preemptively.
Hunt's reason for alarm? What he calls "the growing anti-American sentiment percolating through our culture."
Consider a recent poll conducted by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which found that nearly half of U.S. millennials would rather live under a communist or socialist regime than a democratic country.
Actually, the poll showed that only 7% of millennials would like to live under communism; 44% preferred socialism, and 42% preferred capitalism. But if millennials are thinking of Bernie Sanders and democratic socialism when they answer that question, then it hardly seems like radicalism, much less a reason for them to attack servicemembers in uniform.
Amazingly, one in five Americans in their 20s view Soviet dictator Josef Stalin as a hero, while over 25 percent thought highly of his predecessor Vladimir Lenin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
This is a distortion of what the poll reports. In fact, various current and past leaders were named and respondents were asked whether they considered each "a personal hero, hero for their country, or hero to the world." If you think these people are heroes to others, that doesn't necessarily mean their your own heroes.
More and more citizens fail to understand the importance of democracy and thus can’t see value in patriotism. That leaves them more susceptible than ever to false narratives about what it means to be an American. And even worse, such narratives could easily lead them to more radical forms of protest....
American culture is not far removed, in either time or ideology, from the days when U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines were harassed by their own countrymen when in uniform.
On this Veterans Day, the mistreatment of American troops remains a red line that few dare to cross. But with every new protest, it seems that line gets a little less clear.
So, Fox fans, let's get angry about treasonous attacks on the troops ... before they take place.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog