Monday, October 18, 2010

Vietnam Bogeyman

“The Vietnam Bogeyman is in my head
He’ll probably be there until I’m dead.”
Jay Keck

Spoke to Nicole Anslover’s Diplomatic History class about Vietnam and gave them all copies of “Brothers in Arms.” Told them that when the semester started, I had recommended that she invite Jim Tolhuizen but that it’s too late for that now. Mentioned his experiences as a “ground pounder” and pointed out highlights of interviews with Gary Wilk, Raoul Contreras, and Omar Farag before turning to my pictorial history as a way of discussing American policies. It still boggles the mind how stupid our government was to oppose Ho Chi Minh after he had been our ally against the GJapanese during World War II. After giving student a summary of events between 1945 and 1967 I showed them a ten-minute clip from “Dear America: Letters from Vietnam” about Khe Sanh and the Tet Offensive. One of the letters used in the film referred to the enemy as “gooks.” I told the class that none of the Vietnam vets who took my class ever expressed resentment over my antiwar activities (in fact the whole point of the peace movement was to bring the troops home). The closest thing to a confrontation was one a vet brought his kid to class and then made a reference to “gooks.” I asked him not to use that word again, and he didn’t. During the late Sixties Toni received a call from her best friend in high school, who had returned from a tour of duty as a nurse in Vietnam. She, too, used the word “gooks” in reference to Viet Cong troops who had wounded soldiers she was called on to treat. Toni raised an objection to the word, and the phone went dead. Toni has tried to reconnect with her but never heard from her again. One student’s dad mentioned that her dad died from cancer as a result of Agent Orange. After a few questions, I read Jay Keck’s “The Vietnam Bogeyman” poem, whose final lines go, “The Vietnam Bogeyman is alive and well/ He followed me home, from a place called Hell.”

I will miss the annual condo owners meeting but have notified all interested parties that I’d serve as secretary of the board. Both Sue Harrison and Tom Coulter offered to be my replacement as Court One director, and Sue subsequently expressed relief that Tom had volunteered and agreed he’d do a good job. The grass seed in back of our unit has germinated and is coming in as hoped. The two trees out front may not make it, however, due to having been planted in too shallow a hole.

Typical weekend of chores, bridge, and football watching. The Phillies pulled even in the National League championship series thanks to a sterling pitching performance by Roy Oswalt in game two and four RBIs from Jimmy Rollins. My Fantasy team lost in part because wide receiver DeSean Jackson got knocked out the game on a cheap hit in the first half after he had scored two TDs against Atlanta.

The super rich are trying to steal the upcoming election, taking advantage of a Supreme Court ruling that allows unlimited spending by interest groups. The Republican strategy is to ridicule and demonize House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, perhaps because a liberal woman from San Francisco is even an easier target than an African-American president with a Muslim name. Illinois Congressman Dan Seals, for example, is identified in an attack ad as someone who almost always voted the same way as Pelosi. The democrats are trying to portray the Republicans as extremists. While most independents probably wouldn’t vote for such people for president, they may think they are “sending a message” by voting for them for Congress. Let’s hope not.

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