I just saw the new documentary Sir, No Sir which was wonderful. It takes us back to 1962 and the War in Vietnam and how the resistance was born and grew. Just as importantly it shows us how it has been co-opted and revised since then by the conservatives:
The Vietnam War has been the subject of hundreds of films, both fiction and non-fiction, but this story-the story of the rebellion of thousands of American soldiers against the war-has never been told in film.This is certainly not for lack of evidence. By the Pentagon's own figures, 503,926 "incidents of desertion" occurred between 1966 and 1971; officers were being "fragged"(killed with fragmentation grenades by their own troops) at an alarming rate; and by 1971 entire units were refusing to go into battle in unprecedented numbers.
In the course of a few short years, over 100 underground newspapers were published by soldiers around the world; local and national antiwar GI organizations were joined by thousands; thousands more demonstrated against the war at every major base in the world in 1970 and 1971, including in Vietnam itself; stockades and federal prisons were filling up with soldiers jailed for their opposition to the war and the military.
The part that jolted me to the back wall of the theater was when they talked about the reaction of the public to the returning GI's. They go back and investigate the 'girls would spit at the returning GI's at the airport" rhetoric and show it for the urban myth it is. I was in my teens when the war ended and never saw anyone disrespect a returning soldier from the war. They go back and check news reports in tv and newspapers and find no instances of this supposed occurrance. They show Sylvester Stallone in "Rambo" (a right-wing film from the Reagan era) spouting this as he had an Uzzi or some such in his hands screaming what is basically a total non-truth. Here is the link to the book written about this, titled The Spitting Image , scroll down for the reviews on amazon.
This is something hawks have done to rewrite history. They show no incidents reported of it, combined with very important facts. First the myth states that these GI's would return to the 'airport' and face derision. The fact is that GI's did not return to civilian airports but to military bases. Secondly the myth states over and over that these hippie chicks spit at them. The real kicker here is that women don't spit in general even today when behavior is looser than ever. Hippies and war protesters were quite peaceful in general so this wide occurring event always made my alarm bells go off but until I saw this film today did it come into perspective for what it is, an urban myth.
The film does a great job showing how the media downplayed the far-reaching implications that most returning GI's came home disillusioned with the war and joined the resistance themselves and many started their rebuke of the military in Vietnam and also on or near the military bases at the local coffeehouses.
I encourage people to do their own research and most importantly to see this film now and when it is available on video. It's very important as it is the precedent for where we are now in Iraq and Afghanistan and possibly very soon in Iran.