Mike Ferner / AntiWar.com & Will Fischer / Vote Vets – 2018-06-03 20:13:32
Veterans’ Group Says ‘No’ to
Emmy for PBS Vietnam War Series
Mike Ferner / AntiWar.com
(June 02, 2018) — A national veterans’ organization is weighing in on this year’s Emmy awards with a full-page ad in Variety, saying Ken Burns and Lynne Novick’s “Vietnam War” series does not deserve a “Best Documentary” award.
Veterans For Peace (VFP), headquartered in St. Louis, with 175 chapters in the US and six overseas, will run the Variety ad prior to the awards on September 17, to generate discussion about the series and the lasting impact it will have if “crowned with an Emmy.”
The ad says that because “The Emmy Award is a powerful recognition of truth in art,” Emmy judges are asked to consider whether, “In this war-torn world, what is desperately needed — but what Burns and Novick fail to convey — is an honest rendering of that war to help the American people avoid yet more catastrophic wars.” [Read full ad at bottom of this posting. — EAW]
The ad identifies what it considers the fundamental flaw of the PBS series: Burns and Novick “assert at the beginning that the war ‘was begun in good faith by decent people, out of fateful misunderstandings.'” Questioned about this in a New York Times interview, Burns admitted that might have been “too generous to our leaders,” but he stuck by it.
VFP’s ad quickly responds to that “generous” remark, saying, “Even a cursory reading of the Pentagon Papers disclosed by Daniel Ellsberg,” (inexplicably missing from this history) “demonstrates the falseness of this claim of American innocence.” The painful truth, according to the ad, is that the United States “rained incredible violence on the Vietnamese people merely to replace France as the dominant power in Southeast Asia.”
Acknowledging that Burns and Novick were “justifiably critical of American presidents and military leaders” the veterans say the filmmakers, “mainly focus on the harm to US soldiers” and “reinvigorate Cold War myths that the Vietnamese anti-colonial struggle was merely an extension of Soviet and Chinese communist expansion.”
Another shortcoming in last fall’s series was it paid far too little attention to the millions of civilian deaths the US caused in Southeast Asia, skips over the millions of people still suffering from the effects of Agent Orange and ignores some 700,000 tons of unexploded ordnance still lurking in the fields of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, still killing and injuring today.
Many VFP members have firsthand knowledge of the broad antiwar movement, some as participants in the active-duty G.I. resistance where they conducted peaceful protests, sabotage and outright mutiny, and some in the civilian peace movement after their military service.
Nowhere in 18 hours of programming does the GI resistance movement merit mention and “instead of honoring the civilian peace movement for its accomplishments, activists are generally belittled as self-interested and self-indulgent, with stress on its supposed deep antagonism toward American soldiers,” the ad protests.
VFP concludes its ad, just above an iconic photograph of protesting G.I.s holding a banner emblazoned with, “We won’t fight another rich man’s war,” by saying that if the Burns/Novick series is “crowned with an Emmy, this defective history of the Vietnam era will become required viewing for generations of young Americans — a seductive, but false, interpretation of events.”
Mike Ferner is a former president of Veterans For Peace and author of Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq.
ACTION ALERT: Block The Trumparade
Will Fischer / Vote Vets
(June 3, 2018) — I want to tell you something that is somewhat hard to believe. And that is, when we talk to members of Congress, some of them don’t understand just how pissed off people are about Trump’s ridiculous military parade.
It’s not just that this parade would be an international disgrace.
It’s not just about making women and men who signed up to sacrifice everything march down the streets of our nation’s capital to salute a chickenhawk.
It’s about a president who has continually shown himself to have authoritarian tendencies.
If Donald Trump really wanted to honor our military and veterans, he’d fill the nearly 50,000 vacancies at the VA. He’d bolster job training programs for veterans returning home. He’d protect public lands veterans use to “walk off the war.” He’d stop trying to cut food assistance from veterans who need it.
This parade is a disgrace. Let’s stop it.
So, here’s what we need. Help us send a message to Congress that yes, you care deeply about this parade and you want action.
Will Fischer is an Iraq War Veteran who currently serves as Director of Government Affairs, for VoteVets.
Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam War
Documentary Series Deserve an Emmy?
To fully communicate the terrible reality and continuing legacy of the American war in Vietnam, one must have the courage to admit that the United States rained incredible violence on the Vietnamese people for no defensible cause, as it sought to replace France as the dominant power in Southeast Asia.
Ken Burns and Lynn Novick assert at the beginning of their documentary series that the war “was begun in good faith by decent people, out of fateful misunderstandings.” Even a cursory reading of the Pentagon Papers disclosed by Daniel Ellsberg demonstrates the falseness of this claim of American innocence.
The series pays scant attention to the millions of civilian deaths in Southeast Asia, the devastation of the land, and the enduring impact of Agent Orange contamination and of unexploded ordnance (10% of the 7 million tons of bombs dropped never exploded), all caused mainly by the American military.
Instead, Burns and Novick in The Vietnam War — while justifiably critical of American Presidents and military leaders — mainly focus on the harm visited upon US soldiers who were ordered to fight in Vietnam. They reinvigorate Cold War myths that the Vietnamese anti-colonial struggle was carried on as an extension of Soviet/Chinese Communist expansion.
Instead of being honored for its accomplishments, the profound US antiwar movement is belittled as self-interested and self-indulgent, with stress on its supposed deep antagonism toward American soldiers. The documentary does not put forth an honest moral critique of the war. Instead, the views of pro-war career professionals are put forward.
Daniel Ellsberg is absent, while Martin Luther King’s opposition is sanitized by omitting his powerful words: “The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. We in the West must support these revolutions.”
In this war-torn world, what is desperately needed and what Burns and Novick fail to convey is an honest rendering of that war to help the American people avoid yet more catastrophic wars. The Emmy Award is a powerful recognition of truth in art. Crowned with an Emmy, this defective history of the Vietnam era will become required viewing for generations of young Americans — a seductive, but false, interpretation of events.
As veterans who served during that time and during subsequent wars, and as civilians who actively oppose them today, we ask that these issues be seriously considered when voting for the “Best Documentary Series” this year.