During the Vietnam War, on college campuses throughout the country, the conventional wisdom among the anti-war protesters was that the war was conducted for the rich. The “peaceniks” said that Vietnam was an economic war -- a war for natural resources. They said that the majority of American troops serving in Vietnam were blacks, and poor or working class whites.
The unspoken truth about the conventional wisdom was that it was merely Communist propaganda. However, to say so would have been Red-baiting. Just as it is considered Red-baiting now to call the Communist leadership of the Iraq “peace” demonstrators Communist, so it was then to call the Vietnam peacenik leaders Communist.
Calling a Communist a Communist is not Red-baiting. It never has been. It is simply stating a truth. However, the truth is a terrible thing for some people if it does not comport with their perspective.
For three decades, the myths about the United States forces in Vietnam were told and believed without question. However, thanks to the work of two dedicated individuals, and a movie called the Long Way Home Project, the Communist propaganda is exposed. The husband and wife team of Calvin and Christel Crane made a movie that debunks the myths about those who served in Vietnam. The two obtained information from the National Archives and other sources about the demographics of those who served-and this data refutes the propaganda of the “peaceniks.”
According to their website, “The Long Way Home Project is dedicated to their families and to all those who have risked everything for the cause of freedom and democracy." Calvin Crane said “It is imperative for young people today and future generations to know the truth about why we served so that they will want to defend our freedoms in the years to come.”
Indeed it is. The Long Way Home Project is an absolute necessity to expose the fraud and lies told by the bien pensants then and to discredit them now.
Make no mistake about it. The myths of Vietnam are still quoted by the intelligentsia who say that the Vietnam military personnel were composed of poor and black citizens. As recently as April 5, 2000 on a Lehrer News Hour show, about the 25th anniversary of Vietnam, esteemed journalist Gwenn Ifill asked esteemed historians Michael Beschloss and Doris Kearns Goodwin about Vietnam.
Beschloss commented that, “It was, it was a war that, especially as it went on, was fought by Americans who were poor and African American.” Kearns Goodwin was even more egregious in her dissembling when she said, “I still think that one legacy that's left from that, however, is that we let the draft go because we didn't want a selective draft, as we had in the war, because it seemed to weigh so heavily on those who were poor and working-class and the middle-class, better educated kids got out of it.”
These two highly regarded historians and one equally regarded journalist could not state a simple fact correctly. Instead, they chose to repeat the Communist propaganda.
Here are the facts about the military in Vietnam from the National Archives, Defense Department, Texas Tech Vietnam Center, Burkett, B.G., “Stolen Valor” (Verity Press, Inc., Dallas, Texas, 1998), Sorley, Lewis, “A Better War” (Harcourt Brace & Company, Orlando, Florida, 1999) and other sources referenced in the Long Way Home Project :
* Vietnam Veterans represent 9.7 percent of their generation
* 2,594,000 personnel served within the borders of South Vietnam
* 1 – 1.6 million (40-60 percent) either fought in combat, provided close support or were at least fairly regularly exposed to enemy attack
* 25 percent (648,500) of total forces in country were draftees
* Draftees accounted for 30.4 percentees (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam
* 88.4 percentees of the men who actually served in Vietnam were Caucasian: 10.6 percent (275,000) were African-American; 1 percent belonged to other races
* 86.3 percent of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasian (includes Hispanics); 12.5 percent (7,241) were African-American; 1.2 percent belonged to other races
* 170,000 Hispanics served in Vietnam: 3,070 (5.2 percent of total) died there
* 70 percent of enlisted men killed were of Northwest European descent
* 86.8 percent of the men who were killed as a result of hostile action were Caucasian; 12.1 percent (5,711) were African-American; 1.1 percent belonged to other races
* 14.6 percent (1,530) of non-combat deaths were among African-Americans
* 34 percent of African-Americans who enlisted volunteered for the combat arms
* Overall, African-Americans suffered 12.5 percent of the deaths in Vietnam at a time when the percentage of African-Americans of military age was 13.5 percent of the total population
* Religion of Dead: Protestant – 64.4 percent; Catholic – 28.9 percent; other/none – 6.7 percent
* 26 percent of combat deaths came from the families in the highest third of income levels
* 76 percent of the men sent to Vietnam were from middle/working class backgrounds
* Three-fourths had family incomes above the poverty level; 50 percent were from middle income backgrounds
* Some 23 percent of Vietnam veterans had fathers with professional, managerial or technical occupations
* 79 percent of the men who served in Vietnam had a high school education or better when they entered military service. (63 percent of Korean War vets and only 45 percent of WWII vets had completed high school upon separation)
Despite what the liberal intelligentsia like Beschloss and Kearns Goodwin say, the Vietnam campaign was not prosecuted by the poor and the black. That claim was sheer communist propaganda designed to cause dissension among the troops and among American citizens. Beschloss and Goodwin prove the Orwell aphorism, “One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool."
The truth needs to be told. The propaganda of the current anti-war leadership will only serve to make needless casualties of Americans and Iraqis. Historians like Michael Beshcloss and Doris Kearns Goodwin need to tell the truth. Their dissembling is deleterious to our military personnel and to the civilians involved. Beschloss and Kearns-Goodwin need to place principle before politics. They need to place people before partisanship.
Innocent lives depend on it.