History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Monday, July 20, 2015

Donald Trump's comments re. John McCain: no big deal

Donald Trump, candidate (image from "The Black Sphere")
Boomers roll their eyes when the topic of the Viet Nam war comes up. It seems like an awful dream: the Viet Nam war. We should be so lucky if it were just a dream. If you need a reminder or a primer on the Viet Nam war, watch the movie "Born on the Fourth of July" starring Tom Cruise.
Donald Trump has waded into Viet Nam memories with his comments on John McCain. Instantly I knew this would lead to an extended session of media masturbation. I'm sure "Morning Joe" on MSNBC salivated over the opportunity to begin its Monday morning show on this topic.
The media are walking a very fine line in addressing the matter. The media must be careful not to pre-suppose that Trump's comments are 1) insulting to all veterans, and 2) objectionable on the face of it. I would assert that it is not unreasonable to assert, as a passing opinion, that being captured in a war and being in a prison do not automatically make you into a hero. You can disagree if you want. But Trump's opinion is not out of bounds, not cause for knee-jerk condemnation.
The media then started reporting that "Trump refuses to apologize." The media are assuming that Trump had some sort of obligation to apologize, and a "refusal to apologize" is thus news. There can be two schools of thought on the matter. You can be a holier-than-thou type and rail at Mr. Trump, or you can realize the issues are at least more nuanced.
By spending so much time in a North Viet Nam prison, McCain at least was spared any risk of being "fragged" or killed. Fragging became commonplace in the Viet Nam war. It has been cited as the reason we absolutely had to get out of Viet Nam at a certain point. We are hearing more about fragging in Viet Nam, than was the case in the years immediately following the war. It is such an unsavory topic. "Fragging" was U.S. servicemen literally killing their superiors.
Should we be surprised this happened? Did anything good come of the Viet Nam war? Were U.S. interests served in any way at all? The U.S. dispensed propaganda about how sub-human the enemy was. This is typical propaganda accompanying any war. Dehumanizing the enemy makes it easier to kill them. "The enemy" won the Viet Nam war and these are the people now running the country and with whom we have relations. Do they seem so sub-human now?
From Wikipedia:
The prevalence of fragging was partially based on the ready availability of fragmentation hand grenades. Grenades were untraceable to an owner and did not leave any ballistic evidence. M18 Claymore mines and other explosives were also occasionally used in fragging, as were firearms, although the term, as defined by the military during the Viet Nam war, applied only to the use of explosives to kill fellow soldiers. Most fragging incidents were in the Army and Marine Corps. Fragging was rare among Navy and Air Force personnel who had less access to grenades and weapons than did many soldiers and Marines.
This morning (7/20) on the "Morning Joe" program (Joe Scarborough), the panel wondered if anyone had previously criticized John McCain in the manner that Donald Trump did. Someone pointed out Al Franken. I wonder if there will now be calls for Franken to resign from the Senate. So many "patriots" go into such knee-jerk hyperbole on these matters. Why don't you all try to get into the heads of people like the Tom Cruise character in "Born on the Fourth of July."
BTW I personally remember one other public figure who has criticized McCain, Trump-style, and it was Wesley Clark. This happened during McCain's run for president. I'm not even going to bother Googling this because I do in fact remember it: Clark saying that being captured doesn't make you a hero.
Maybe I should sympathize with McCain because by being captured, he ensured his own survival through the end of the war, which was a far better position to be in, than by staying in the field. He'd have to be sure he'd at least survive in prison. I wouldn't blame anyone in Viet Nam for finding any sort of way to simply survive.
More on fragging:
Most fragging was perpetrated by enlisted men against leaders. Enlisted men, in the words of one company commander, "feared they would get stuck with a lieutenant or platoon sergeant who would want to carry out all kinds of crazy John Wayne tactics, who would use their lives in an effort to win the war single-handedly, win the big medal, and get his picture in the hometown paper." Harassment of subordinates by a superior was another frequent motive. The stereotypical fragging incident was of "an aggressive career officer being assaulted by disillusioned subordinates."
What a wonderful war, eh? The boomer generation was too young and powerless to do anything to try to extricate us. We made noise and the media paid attention. The media became sympathetic to us. We got infused with the message that dissent is a good thing. It was through these reports that I learned the word "dissent."
But dissent of course is not a good or ideal thing. In an ideal world, we'd like to think our leaders, even teachers in school, have wisdom and will lead us in the proper fashion. In the '60s, for some reason, this ideal did not hold. I entered adulthood thinking it was just fine to question authority. To "refuse to conform." In an abstract sort of way, I suppose this attitude is OK. But it can also get you in a lot of trouble. Today we teach our kids to respect authority. That's the way it should be. The boomer generation will never forget the more questioning ways that were instilled in us.
War "heroes?" Maybe we should back off from the term "heroes" completely. "Heroes" suggests a comic book type of template. It's not the real world. Try to be a "hero" in war and you'll end up dead. The smartest soldiers learn to take as few risks as possible. Don't try to be a hero.
Donald Trump's opinions re. John McCain were no big deal. It took him a mere few moments to express them. What followed was a lot of ridiculous hair-pulling by the sanctimonious type, many of whom were following a Pavlov's bell. "Our soldiers are heroes!" A better attitude would be: war is bad and it should always be avoided.
Some final background on fragging in Viet Nam:
Only a few fraggers were identified and prosecuted. It was often difficult to distinguish between fragging and enemy action. Was a grenade thrown into a foxhole or tent fragging, or the action of an enemy infiltrator or saboteur? Enlisted men were often close-mouthed in fragging investigations, refusing to inform on their colleagues out of fear or solidarity. Although the sentences prescribed for fragging were severe, the few men convicted often served fairly brief prison sentences. Ten fraggers were convicted of murder and served sentences ranging from ten months to 30 years with a mean prison time of about nine years.
Having read this you're probably in no frame of mind to watch the movie "The Green Beret" starring John Wayne, or any John Wayne war movie.
I recently blogged about a friend of our family who was a victim of friendly fire in Viet Nam in 1966. To read that, just type into search the name of this blog, "Morris of Course," and the name of the deceased: "Richard Ungerecht." He was from Brainerd. I still carry bitterness from attending that funeral.
I'm rather indifferent about Donald Trump. He reminds me of George Wallace in the sense that he's a performer as politician, which can in fact be an entertaining talent. Trump's comments about McCain were essentially true. Now let's move on.
Didn't Fox News try to diss John Murtha as a war hero during the burgeoning debate over the Iraq war?
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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