Monday, January 10, 2005

A Perfect Double-Cross

During the Vietnam War
when I was younger and much better looking
I often heard people say
and sometimes I read in the papers
that the protesters who opposed the war
were actually communist agents
and that they were protesting
not because they had anything against the war
but because they were paid to do so
by our mortal enemies the Russians
who were making every possible effort
to destabilize our society

This never made any sense to me

I always thought
that if the Russians really wanted
to destabilize our society
they could surely find better ways to do it

I also thought
that there must be a lot of other people like me
who could see that the war was
not only stupid and dangerous
but also very wrong

and it seemed to me that I saw these people on TV
every once in a while
singing songs and carrying signs
and chanting slogans such as
"Hell No, We Won't Go"
or another one that started
"One Two Three Four..."

It always seemed to me
that these protesters
whom I saw on TV now and then
were seriously opposed to the war
and that they were doing whatever they could
to try to get it stopped

In fact they were the only people
appearing on TV news at the time
who didn't appear to be lying

But my father and his friends
all of whom seemed very intelligent
insisted that I was wrong about this
and that the people protesting against the war
did so only because they were paid to do so

And whenever they told me things like this
they seemed so sure of themselves
that eventually I stopped arguing with them
because I could see that it wasn't doing any good
but this did not mean
that I believed what they were saying

I wondered what the truth was
and whether I would ever find out
and why my dad and his friends
who seemed so intelligent in every other way
kept saying what they said
even though it didn't seem to make any sense

I also wondered whether they were lying to me
but I doubted that this could be the case
mostly because
my father loved me very much
and although he teased me just for fun
and made jokes all the time
I knew that he would never lie to me
about something so important

And therefore I came to accept the notion
that they really believed what they were saying

But I still didn't understand
how or why they had come to believe it
and I continued to wonder
whether it was actually true

And all these questions
which tumbled around in my mind
for many years
decades in fact
were probably the source of my life-long habit
if you can call it that
others would call it an obsession
of reading everything I could get my hands on
pertaining to Vietnam and the war
and our role in it

Eventually there came a time
when it was considered acceptable
to make documentaries about the war
and to show them on television
and so of course
I watched every documentary I could find

I did all this for my own edification
and I never made any notes
so today I don't remember where I read certain things
or which documentaries contained which interviews
or exactly who said what
which is a shame really
because I cannot point you to my sources
and therefore I am left in the unenviable position
of asking you to take my story at face value

Still I assure you
that the story I am telling you now
is the result of a lifetime of informal research
during which I have learned many very troubling things

For instance
at some point
it became clear to me
that the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963
was by no means the senseless act of a deranged man
as it was portrayed at the time
but was in fact a military coup d'etat
which eliminated the only obstacle
standing between those who wanted to wage war in Vietnam
and the realization of their ambitions

My father
and his very intelligent friends
never knew this
and to this day
many of them still do not believe it
despite all the evidence I can give them
that the official story of the assassination
could not possibly be true

Such is the power of human self-certainty

Fortunately for me
my mind was full of questions
not answers
and I kept searching for a reasonable explanation
for what had happened during those turbulent years

To me it was a giant puzzle
and I kept reading everything I could find
about the assassination of President Kennedy
and the war
and the protests
and the other political assassinations
especially that of Senator Kennedy

This puzzle was so big and so complicated
that it was very difficult to see the edges
not to mention the corners

There were also a lot of pieces missing
and some pieces that didn't seem to fit anywhere
but by the time I realized this
I had already collected so many pieces
that I could see no reasonable course
other than to continue collecting them

Thus the habit became an obsession
if that is what you want to call it

But eventually I discovered
that I had collected enough pieces
to start putting the puzzle together

and then I began to understand
that my father and his friends
and many other very intelligent people
who supported the war at the time
and who said things about it that made no sense
had been brainwashed by the new government
which had taken over in 1963
and which ever since had been spreading
all kinds of vicious propaganda
such as the stories about the demonstrators
who were supposedly Russian agents

when in fact
what had really happened
was that
most of the demonstrators
were very decent loyal Americans
who could not allow themselves
to sit back and relax
and allow what was happening to their country
and to Vietnam
to continue
without trying to stop it
although the great majority of these people
had no idea how to stop it
and many may have secretly wondered
whether it could be stopped at all

And the other demonstrators
were not actually communists
but were in fact hired to be there
by the FBI and the CIA and others

Some of these agents were instructed
to infiltrate the groups of demonstrators
so that the government would know
when and where future demonstrations
were about to be held
and the others were instructed
to impersonate communist agents
on whom the entire mess could be blamed

The impersonators were told
it would be quite all right
if every now and then
a demonstration got out of hand
provided that the infiltrators had done their job
because in that case the police would be there
and if things got ugly
the police could use force
and it would also be quite all right
if some of the demonstrators got hurt
because not only would it deter them
but it might also discourage
others from joining them
And the infiltrators were told
If you see someone
who appears to be a communist agent
inciting people to violence
pick up any weapons you can find
and lead the charge
provided you can see the police
but not otherwise
And the police were told:
If you ever see a demonstrator
who appears to be a communist agent
inciting people to violence
make sure that that he
and his immediate followers
escape unharmed
because they are on the payroll
but show no mercy
to the other demonstrators
because they are the enemy
It was a perfect double-cross

The object was to discredit the protesters
while providing a pretext for shooting at them
and for the most part
it seems to have succeeded
at least in the sense
that there are still many people
who saw the anti-war movement from the outside
and who continue to believe
that it was inspired and funded by communists

It may seem too horrible to believe
or it may smack of conspiracy theory
and yet I assure you
that I have put this puzzle together
using only those pieces
which appear to be extremely credible

For instance
I know what the police were told
because I saw an interview
with a former Chicago policeman
who explained the whole thing
from the police point of view

I have also read several interviews
with people who traveled around the country
recruiting infiltrators
and who said that most of the infiltrators
came from college campuses
especially the 'Young Republicans' clubs

It may seem strange to you
that former recruiters would speak so openly
but in their minds
they have nothing to be ashamed of
and in fact they are proud of what they did

They were supporters of Richard Nixon
and Henry Kissinger
and they truly believed what they were told
namely that the enemy
was not only in Vietnam
but also in Russia and China
and especially here at home

They considered the entire sequence of events
to be nothing more than a series of 'dirty tricks'
and in their minds
their enemies
however you define that term
were using dirty tricks against them
or if not then they could have been
and should have been
and would have been
if they were smart enough

in addition to the infiltration and impersonation
the dirty tricksters used quite a bit of disinformation
in their efforts to discredit the anti-war movement

For instance
they planted stories in the papers
saying that the protesters were responsible
for the deaths of our soldiers overseas

This was particularly galling to the protesters
whose actions of course were motivated
by the hope of getting the war stopped
and bringing our soldiers back home
where they would be safe

It was obviously untrue as well
since our fallen soldiers had all died
from wounds they had suffered
in the jungles of Vietnam
and not on the streets of America

And yet this obviously false story
is still widely believed
even though it clearly makes no sense
and even though it is contradicted by the evidence

Such is the power of propaganda

Worse still
even when they did get home
our soldiers were still not safe
because other 'Young Republicans'
had been hired to dress like hippies
to hang out in airports and bus terminals
to wait for the soldiers
who were returning from the war
and to greet them with cries of 'baby-killer'
or to throw urine or feces at them

Most of the returning soldiers
had no idea that their government was so corrupt
and never dreamed that they were being shat on
quite literally
by representatives of the very people
who had put them in harm's way in the first place

They could never have accepted the fact
that they and their friends
had risked
or ruined
or lost
their lives
fighting a war that was based on lies
on behalf of a government that was utterly corrupt
and which was led by a president
who was certifiably insane

They found it easier to believe
that the abuse they were taking
was coming from the very people
who had spent their time and energy
and in some cases risked their own lives
trying to bring our soldiers home
where they would be safe

It may seem to you
that this story represents
the very depths of human depravity

You may find it impossible to believe
that people could treat other people so cruelly

I assure you that this is only the tip of the iceberg
and that what was going on in Vietnam
was infinitely worse

Some day I may decide to tell you
all about 'Operation Phoenix'
but for now I will leave you
with a song by Stephen Stills

For What It's Worth

There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
I think it's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying "hooray for our side"
It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away
We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, now, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down