In the run-up to his nomination as the Democratic Party’s candidate for the presidency, John Kerry has been justly criticized for his phony Vietnam war record, his blatant anti-war activities back home, and his opposition to virtually every proposal to strengthen America militarily. Now that he has become the nominee, even more facts will emerge about Kerry’s self-promoted medals and alleged heroism, his malicious slander of other veterans, his common cause with traitors like Jane Fonda, and a Senate voting record designed to weaken our defenses and render us vulnerable to our enemies.
Eventually, Kerry will stand exposed to his fellow Americans as the lightweight, opportunistic, unprincipled fraud that he is—a man who has the effrontery to blow his Vietnam service out of all decent proportion.
While voters are in the process of deciding whether or not Kerry is fit to be their Commander-in-Chief, they would do well to ponder a little-known but important fact. Presidential nominee John F. Kerry is currently being lionized at one of the Vietnamese Communists’ most popular museums in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).
The War Remnants Museum is the successor to Hanoi’s notorious “War Crimes Museum” which, during the Vietnam War, displayed ordnance and artifacts allegedly used by American forces against the Communists, as well as photographic exhibits of wartime casualties, some real, some faked. The museum was then—and remains—devoted to blatant anti-American propaganda. According to the Yahoo website’s largely uncritical depiction of this museum’s currently “haunting and sickening” photographic exhibit, the presentation “highlights the suffering of the Vietnamese people at the hands of the French and American forces up to 1975.” (Yahoo’s travel editor, at least, owns up to the fact that “this is not a politically balanced exhibition.”)
In our book “Aid and Comfort”: Jane Fonda in North Vietnam, we wrote about the grisly pictures in the War Crimes Museum attributed to American “air pirates” bent on allegedly terrorizing “the peace-loving citizens of Vietnam”—and about how Jane Fonda, “on virtually her first day in [war-time] Hanoi . . . was taken to the North Vietnam Communists’ ‘War Crimes’ museum’.” Later during her tour, Fonda was to enthuse that every American should visit the museum.
Not many Americans had the opportunity. Some had no choice. Certainly not Everett Alvarez, Jr., who spent nearly nine agonizing years as a POW, and who, as we wrote in “Aid and Comfort,” was taken in early 1970 to the War Crimes Museum where “he saw his own helmet and uniform and photographs and equipment of other captured pilots.”
We submit that today John Kerry has a choice of a somewhat different nature. An exhibit in the re-named War Remnants Museum—an institution with the identical goals of its predecessor—is devoted to those anti-war activists whose conduct contributed significantly to helping the North Vietnamese Communists win the Vietnam War. Included in the exhibit—a significant propaganda coup—is a photograph taken in July 1993. It shows presidential nominee John F. Kerry meeting with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam. In plain English that even the vacillating Kerry would be hard put to spin, this exhibit in “liberated” Saigon’s foremost propaganda museum is devoted to American traitors. And there hangs a photograph of a potential President of the United States, who carries a lot of antiwar baggage, meeting with the leader of a totalitarian regime that took nearly sixty thousand American lives.
The continued existence of Kerry’s photograph on the walls of the War Remnants Museum is an affront to many Americans—especially our POWs, who were bombarded with ongoing and relentless propaganda that was its own form of torture. While there is no way for Kerry to force his Vietnamese fans to remove the photograph, he should, for once in his life, take the moral high ground. Paraphrasing President Ronald Reagan, he should say, plainly and forcefully, “Mr. General Secretary, take down that picture!”
Henry Mark Holzer is Professor Emeritus at Brooklyn Law School, and specializes in federal appeals. Erika Holzer is a lawyer and novelist.