Vietnamand the Mediafrom the archives of VietnamVeterans for Academic Reform

Part 2 of a 10-part series. ByLeonard Magruder, President

PART2 – The suppression of the final report to the American people

fromthe nation’s largest symposium on Vietnam at Stony Brook University, N.Y.

In part1 of this series on how the media suppressed stories related to Vietnam, Mr.Magruder recounted how Dan Rather refused an invitation to debate the manyissues with regard the performance of the media during the Vietnam War at theStony Brook University Vietnam Symposium of 1986.

“The media pretty well snubbed the entire event,” said Mr. Magruder, whoserved as National Coordinator, “and when I sent out a final press releasesummarizing the findings of the Symposium, the largest ever held, it wascompletely ignored by the New York national media.”

Following are extracts from that press release:

The key to thesuccess of the Symposium was that for the first time hundreds of Vietnamveterans and students had been brought together in a direct learning situation,stimulated by an outstanding panel of speakers, 60 in all, from all over thecountry representing the military, the media, the government, veteransorganizations, academia, and the war protestors.Funding for the project camefrom private individuals. Over $35,000 was raised for honorariums and speakerfees.

Each session of the Symposium, most with a number of speakers, covered adifferent topic related to the Vietnam War. These included:

The History of Vietnam and American Involvement
How America’s Youth Responded to the Call
The Views of Veteran Organizations (VVA,VFW, AmericanLegion, etc.)
The War as Seen by General Westmoreland
Protests and Counter-Protests at Home
The Performance of the Media
The Turning Points of the War
The Return of the Vietnam Veteran
The Story of the Wall by its Founders
The Adjustment and Reassimilation of the Veteran
The POW/MIA Issue
The Views of the South Vietnamese
The Lessons of the War
The Vietnam Veteran as Emerging Leader

In general, said Mr. Magruder in an interview, representatives of themilitary and government were not only highly responsive to invitations toparticipate, but all had given of their time at no cost. Most former warprotestors who were invited, he said, either declined the invitations or hadasked for fees which were in many cases prohibitive. The representatives of thenational media who were invited, such as Dan Rather, Mike Wallace, Tom Brokaw,Sam Donaldson, Peter Jennings, and Ted Koppel, did not respond, making the mediasingularly underrepresented.

Aspects of the war that had been neglected over the years, but had beenbrought out by the speakers at the Symposium, included: the humanitarian andidealistic dimensions of American involvement, the subversive aspects of thecampus “peace” movement, the true intentions of Communist North Vietnam toconquer all of Indochina, the ruthlessness and barbaric tactics of the VietCong, the use of the American media to influence public opinion against the war,the succumbing of American journalists and intellectuals to Hanoi propaganda,the bravery and victorious record of the American soldier, the genuine thrustfor freedom of the South Vietnamese, the abandonment by liberals in Congress ofSouth Vietnam, the views of the Vietnam veteran towards the war protestors andthe media, and the true status of the POW/MIA issue.

Asked what he thought were the main themes emerging from the Symposium, Mr.Magruder said that while he could not speak for either Dr. Kennedy or theVietnam veterans, that as a psychologist and sociologist the themes that he sawemerging from the Symposium seemed to include at least the following fivepoints:

The majority of veterans fully understood their mission inVietnam to be to stop Communist aggression from the North, do not view theirmission in Vietnam as having been “immoral,” take a certain amount of pridein their accomplishments on the battlefield, and are proud to have served theircountry. This is quite at odds with the image perpetrated on campus and in themedia of the veteran as a “dupe” of American “imperialism,” waiting forthe war protestors to save them.

2)Themajority of veterans do not view the war protestors as having been either“idealistic” or as “moral heroes,” and view their interpretation of thewar as naïve, false, and damaging to their efforts. Most of them recognize thatthe war protests were engineered by Marxist and other ideologues on campus whowere partisan to Hanoi and manipulated gullible students to further theself-interests of both groups.

3)Most veterans expressed concern over the fact that many former draftevaders and war protestors now occupy prominent positions on campus and continuein their writings and lectures to perpetuate a false understanding of the warand its veterans offering themselves to students as a “moral elite,” whilein general striving to avoid debate on the issues with the veterans.

4)Amajority of veterans appear to be deeply dissatisfied with the media,particularly national television, for having portrayed a view of the war moresympathetic to that of the war protestors than to the majority of Americansincluding themselves. They are particularly unhappy that their considerablemilitary achievements such as at Hue, Khe Sahn and other battlefields during theTet and other large offensives were portrayed by the media to the Americanpeople either negatively, or as defeats, and that these impressions have neverbeen corrected.

5)A majority of veterans appear to hold thecampus and the media largely responsible for the tragic outcome of the war, andblame those two institutions for having created a false image of them and thewar that made their return home very difficult.

Asked what he thought was the most significant contribution of the Symposium,Mr. Magruder said that it was undoubtedly the changing perception by students ofthe Vietnam veterans from the false stereotypes of the anti-war movement and themedia, to one of citizens who had acted responsibly in answering the call toduty, who successfully fought an especially difficult war to a peace treaty, andwho had returned home to totally unfair treatment as a result of misinformationspread by the campus and the media.

Equally important, he said, was the change that is coming about in studentperception of the war protestors and the draft dodgers as considerably less thanthe moral heroes they portray themselves to be, as a result of becoming aware,at the Symposium, of the ideological and often self-interested motives behindtheir behavior.

Asked about the problems the symposium had faced, Mr. Magruder said that thebiggest problem was that media coverage had been scanty and biased. What littlethere had been focused primarily on General Westmoreland’s visit, and thethree articles on this in the campus newspaper had been unduly critical andharsh, causing some veterans to observe that many on campus, and in the media,seemed to be trying to avoid the issues.

Also, he said, there had been some harassment by the leftists and Marxists oncampus. One professor, a well-known leftist, gave a lengthy speech on the“vested economic interests” behind the war (an idea universally hooted downby the veterans), had coached his students into giving him a standing ovation,had encouraged his students to heckle others on stage, and had lodged acomplaint with the Dean about the presence on campus of the American flag in acolor guard to honor General Westmoreland.

Mr. Magruder is President of Vietnam Veterans for Academic Reform, thenational organization and the student auxiliary at the Univ. of Kansas. Speakingin Lawrence today, he said, “Looking back, it borders on a national tragedythat an event of this scope, made possible by the contributions, in terms oftime, effort, and money, of so many, and designed to help the American peoplearrive at some correct historical conclusions with regards the war, was soneglected by the media, as well as by many on the University faculty, wholargely shunned the event.

Significant new insights on the Vietnam Era by GeneralWestmoreland, David Horowitz, Sen. Eugene McCarthy, Bobby Seale, and Al Santoliand so many others went totally unreported by the media, nor would they sendrepresentatives to engage in the dialogue. Nor has much changed. I notedyesterday a recent article by Richard Kolb, Editor-in-Chief of VFW Magazinein which he quotes Vietnam vet Milt Copulos as saying “There’s a wall 10miles high and 50 miles thick between those of us who went and those whodidn’t, and that wall is never going to come down.” And vet David Carrad,who wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Until my generation passes fromthe scene, I doubt there will ever be any reconciliation of views on the warbetween those who went and those who did not.” It is the guilt of those whodidn’t go that will always cause any effort to heal in a Symposium to be lessthan successful. For thirty years, the tissue of lies that had to be told bythose who would not serve has been rotting the heart out of this society. Lookat the experience of David Horowitz at Brown and Arizona State. The spirit ofthe leftist thugs of the 60’s is still with us. For 30 years the universityhas been unable to tolerate a dissenting opinion, or discuss an issuerationally, continuing to serve as the Depositer of the Lies or as PaulHollander, noted sociologist at U. Mass. writes, “the major reservoirs of theadversary culture.” Why don’t our universities finally face the truth aboutVietnam, rejoin and help our failing society?”

This article may be reproduced in anyform.




Reprint with permission of Leonard Magruder.  Founder/President,V.V.A.R.

©Vietnamese & American Veterans of the Vietnam War, 2005 All Rights Reserved

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