(March 14, 2019) As explained in previous posts, too many academic historians criticize Southern memories of the Civil War as erroneous at their foundation. As I age, I increasingly question the academe’s presently dominant interpretation because I notice some of their writings about historical events that I actually observed are falsely portrayed. One example, is the shamefully indifferent and sometimes mocking reception that Vietnam vets received when they returned to America.
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One such book, The Spitting Image, by Holy Cross sociology professor Jeremy Lembcke contends that the unfriendly reception was a narrative made up by far right extremists as a way to smear the antiwar movement.
But Dr. Lembcke has two problems. First, even the contemporary mainstream press provides abundant evidence disproving the professor’s claims. Second, outraged vets who read his book responded at Amazon with reviews citing personal experiences that also contradicted Lembcke’s assertions. In fact, buyers of the book at Amazon gave it more one-star (bad) reviews than five-star (good) ones. Here are some examples:
One. I had heard about this book for a long time as I am a college professor specializing in military history. . . While it raises some good points . . . the book as a whole is extremely weak. . . As a historian it’s shocking to see the lack of evidence in here and the vague generalizations that the author asserts as facts.
Two. I am a Green Beret veteran who served in SE Asia in ’69-’70. I returned to my hometown on a Greyhound bus. Dressed in my uniform, departing the vehicle I was confronted by a group of six people who came up in my face and called me a “baby killer.”
Three. My father was one of the men spat upon while returning home. It happened, but he never reported it. He was also booed off a stage at an anti war rally he attended while going to Chico State in California. He got up to talk about his friends who died.
Four. It is amazing how many “peace loving protestors” found it in their hearts to curse, name call, shove, and abuse returning veterans. I was among those who who came home to more hatred, at a time when I was seeking peace from my experience in Vietnam.
Five. Ideologues generally make poor historians. This book is proof. Written by a leftist college professor, (redundant, I know), the author attempts to portray as myth that anti-war radicals treated veterans returning from Vietnam like plague-bearing rats. This thesis will elicit guffaws from any honest person who lived through the sixties.
Six. This book is an attempt to rewrite history so as to whitewash the awful treatment the Left gave the military. I was in the military just as the US got out of Vietnam, from 1973 to 1975, and I can tell you from personal experience that it was common to be abused by angry long-hair types when wearing your uniform in public.
Seven. In 1970 was a Marine PFC in uniform walking down Michigan Avenue to catch a train home for a few days of leave before being sent to Viet Nam when an older waitress came running out of a shop yelling at me that I was a murderer. She followed me for a bit, continuing her tirade and then quickly ran back to her restaurant.
As long as we live, historians are unlikely to convince us that our memories of the historical events we witnessed are so greatly distorted as to be fundamentally false. But once those with living memories are all deceased, agenda-driven historians will spin their web of lies in order to dominate the narrative. In terms of the Civil War, that false narrative has evolved into the South as metaphorically America’s evil twin. Most reprehensible of all, however, is the academe’s near total censorship of interpretations contrary to their own. Therefore, I applaud President Trump’s intent to issue an executive order to cut federal funding for public colleges that censor speakers who disagree with the prevalent viewpoints of the applicable school’s faculty.