THE SUFFERING of the Indochinese people under communism is one of the most tragic sagas of the 20th century. The terror that communists perpetrated in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos after their victory in 1975 defies simple characterization.
The leftists among us, meanwhile, continue to spout their lies about Southeast Asia and about the horror that communism brought to that region.
Just like contemporary neo-nazis who revel in practicing holocaust denial, leftists just simply can’t help themselves from engaging in gulag denial. They love erasing the historical memory of the millions of people who were liquidated on the altar of socialist ideals. And engaging in historical amnesia is precisely where socialists and neo-nazis share one of their most sacred common bonds.
And now we have H. Bruce Franklin, a professor of English and American Studies at Rutgers University, who has stepped forward to tell us that communism only brought peace and fraternity to Indochina.
In the March-April 2002 edition of the International Socialist Review, which is otherwise known as the Journal of Revolutionary Marxism (and this title is not meant to be a joke), Franklin writes an article glorifying the memory of the anti-war movement in America during the Vietnam War. Titled "Vietnam. The Antiwar Movement We Are Supposed To Forget," the essay is an excerpt from Franklin’s book Vietnam and Other American Fantasies (University of Massachusetts Press, 2000)
Franklin pleads with his readers not to forget the anti-war movement, which he complains the capitalists in America have forced people to do. He emphasizes that remembering the anti-war movement is crucial, since it triumphed in bringing about an American defeat and a communist victory in Southeast Asia. And he means this in a positive sense.
Usually I read the International Socialist Review for the same reason I read other Marxist and socialist literature: for a good laugh. It really is very amusing. Sometimes I get the giggles for hours on end after reading our contemporary leftwing intellectuals’ ongoing agony about capitalist modes of production, surplus value, expropriation, and the near-approaching Marxist revolution. Reading this stuff is sometimes so hilarious that I succumb to sidesplitting fits of laughter.
But oftentimes it’s not very funny at all.
Aside from how pathetically stupid it is, there is little that is funny about Marxism.
There is little that is funny about a set of ideas that has resulted in the liquidation of a 100 million lives in the 20th century.
So this time around, I wasn’t very humored when I stumbled onto Franklin’s piece on Vietnam.
Franklin praises the anti-war movement, which allowed the communist victory and paved the road for the subsequent mass genocide in Indochina. He writes that the anti-war movement should be
"one legitimate source of great national pride about American culture and behavior during the war. In most wars, a nation dehumanizes and demonizes the people on the other side. Almost the opposite happened during the Vietnam War. Countless Americans came to see the people of Vietnam fighting against U.S. forces as anything but an enemy to be feared and hated. Tens of millions sympathized with their suffering, many came to identify with their 2,000-year struggle for independence, and some even found them an inspiration for their own lives."
It is precisely an interpretation like this that reflects one of the most putrid lies of the Left: that "the people" can somehow be associated with the communists who imprison them. In other words, Franklin writes on the assumption that the U.S. was somehow fighting the people of Vietnam, when in fact it was actually fighting the communists who were seeking to imprison them.
The fact of the matter is that it was North Vietnam and the Vietcong, as well as the anti-war demonstrators in America, who were the enemies of the Vietnamese people -– not the American government which sacrificed 56,000 of its young men in an effort to save them.
Franklin gives us a long (and terribly boring) account of all the different groups that played a role in the anti-war movement. He is very proud in remembering the "outrage" that he says served as a key emotion behind anti-war demonstrations.
But I can’t help from wondering, Franklin: just where exactly did all this "outrage" of the anti-war protestors go when the communists did not bring the paradise that the Left predicted they would? When the communists started liquidating people en masse and setting up concentration camps, where was the "outrage" of the Left then?
Franklin isn’t interested in such questions. Instead, he warns us at the end of his piece that we cannot
"understand what America is becoming if we fail to comprehend how the same nation and its culture could have produced an abomination as shameful as the Vietnam War and a campaign as admirable as the 30-year movement that helped defeat it."
Sorry, Franklin, you got it twisted: it was the American effort to save Indochina from communism that was admirable. And it was the anti-war movement, of which you are so proud, that was the shameful -– and shameless -– abomination.
Franklin’s article reveals to us an individual who clearly prides himself in having declared his partisanship with the communist enemy in the Vietnam War. His only regret is obviously what most of the unapologetic former anti-war demonstrators regret: that he failed to personally travel to Hanoi during the war to volunteer his personal assistance in torturing American POWs.
While Franklin boasts about what he thinks are the anti-war movement’s great accomplishments, history reminds us that this movement helped spawn a bloodbath in Indochina. David Horowitz, who helped to organize the first campus demonstration against the war at the University of California, Berkeley in 1962, has reflected on this tragedy. In his "An Open Letter to the `Anti-War’ Demonstrators: Think Twice Before You Bring The War Home," he recalls how the anti-war movement prolonged the war itself and how,
"Every testimony by North Vietnamese generals in the postwar years has affirmed that they knew they could not defeat the United States on the battlefield, and that they counted on the division of our people at home to win the war for them. The Vietcong forces we were fighting in South Vietnam were destroyed in 1968. In other words, most of the war and most of the casualties in the war occurred because the dictatorship of North Vietnam counted on the fact Americans would give up the battle rather than pay the price necessary to win it. This is what happened. The blood of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, and tens of thousands of Americans, is on the hands of the anti-war activists who prolonged the struggle and gave victory to the Communists."
Giving victory to the communists spawned a horror for Southeast Asia that made the Vietnam war look like a time of peace.
After Saigon fell to North Vietnam in 1975, the summary executions of tens of thousands of innocent South Vietnamese began. There were to be two million refugees and more than a million people thrown into the new communist gulags and "re-education camps." Tens of thousands of South Vietnamese boat people perished in the Gulf of Thailand and in the South China Sea in their attempt to escape what the likes of H. Bruce Franklin had helped to create.
The anti-war movement in America also facilitated the communist takeovers of Laos and Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge victory in Cambodia led to a killing field in which some three million Cambodians were exterminated. Paul Johnson has given a succinct, detailed and gut-wrenching account of this tragedy in his classic work Modern Times.
The Black Book of Communism, meanwhile, provides a meticulous and comprehensive account.
In just a few years after the communist takeovers in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, more Indochinese citizens were killed by the communists than had died on both sides in the whole Vietnam war.
H. Bruce Franklin wants us to remember the anti-war movement in America during the Vietnam War. We do remember it.
And we remember it for what it was: a shameful and shameless abomination, which saw tens of thousands of spoiled moral degenerates betray the lives and freedoms of the Indochinese people -- as they offered themselves for an association with tyranny and a complicity with evil.