As demonstrated by the Swift Boat slander against John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign, the current perception of military and veteran war protesters remains, due to ignorance, largely unfavorable. Sadly, the history of political resistance within the military has been rewritten — the dominant myth having antiwar activists spitting on, instead of embracing, soldiers — by the very interests that would benefit from suppression of such firsthand dissent. Sir! No Sir! offers a stirring rebuttal, documenting the Vietnam War era’s widespread protests by armed forces personnel through archival footage and interviews with key figures of the movement like Keith Mather, one of the Nine for Peace soldiers who refused orders to Vietnam and were summarily locked in the Presidio stockade.
That rebels like these found solidarity with citizens equally opposed to U.S. foreign policy serves as a potent reminder of their common cause during these politically correct times, where “support the troops” jingoism is used to squelch criticism of the government. While the film’s dependence on still photos and anonymous acid rock betrays its somewhat static aesthetic, the personal testimonies are so powerful — and presented in unbroken sequences without unnecessary soundbytization or editorializing — that Sir! No Sir! takes on a resonance beyond the limits of its standard arrangement.