READERS DIGEST AND THE VIETNAM WAR

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READERS DIGEST: PART TWO
READERS DIGEST AND THE VIETNAM WAR

When I was a little boy in the nineteen-sixties my mother always had a subscription to Readers Digest. Every issue of Readers Digest had at least one section if not more than one in different places in the magazine known as,”Humor in Uniform” which featured humorous anecdotes and jokes about military life. Readers Digest, also, had articles concerning the Roman Catholic Church such as articles about the American Archbishop, the Pope and about priests. Readers Digest, also, had sections with religious humor about priests and ministers. During this post World War II period I suppose it only seemed natural for Readers Digest to have humor about military life especially since with the Korean war as well many American men and women had served or were serving in the military.

Like the vast majority of Americans in the early sixties I did not even know that a country existed called Vietnam. When rumors started spreading because of families having sons who were in combat and even being killed in Vietnam the American government echoed by the mass media claimed there were only American military advisers over there and the US military was not actively involved in combat. Later as more information kept coming back from Vietnam via the soldiers themselves who were over there the American government and the American mass media finally admitted that American soldiers were involved in front line combat. As thoughtful observers of the current war in Iraq point out that when there is a war there is another war going on over the control of information and the control of the minds of the people, so it was then during the Vietnam war only with different strategies. At first reporters were not allowed into the combat zones in Vietnam and when they finally were allowed American opinion about the war started to change.

As an idealistic, young boy who had a scholarly nature my concern for all the problems in the world led me to wanting to read about the Vietnam war and understand what was really going on there. Since Readers Digest ran so many articles about the Vietnam war I read volumes in Readers Digest about the war. It wasn’t until the 1980s when I found an amazing book called,”Cold War America”, by Lawrence S. Whittner that I finally read the truth about the Vietnam war. It was then that I became fully aware that everything I had read in Readers Digest about the Vietnam war was all lies. The lies were obviously on purpose.

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It is a sad commentary that the lies in Readers Digest mirrored those of more than one American government administration with both Democrats and Republicans alike and was in effect all that most Americans really believed about the war. It is obvious the earliest victory of the war was getting so many people to live and die for a lie. As a young boy when I read Readers Digest’s version of the war I was lead to believe that the war started because North Vietnam invaded a sovereign country, South Vietnam, for no other reason than to spread Communism throughout the world. We were taught then and Readers Digest confirmed it that according to Communist philosophy Communism can’t work unless the entire world is under a Communist system therefore Communists are dedicated to conquering the entire world. We were taught then and the officials of the American government informed us, also, about the “domino principal”. According to them the “domino principal” meant that if one country in Southeast Asia fell to communist rule then another would and then another with the final object being the spread of communism all over the world.

When I read “Cold War America” by Lawrence S. Whittner I learned that in fact at the beginning of the Vietnam War North Vietnam was not even involved. In fact North Vietnam did not even want to be involved in the war. The war began when South Vietnamese people started an organized resistance movement to free their country of foreign corporations and governments that were stealing the natural resources of South Vietnam and exploiting the South Vietnamese people in the process. Among the many aberrations of the foreign nationals in Vietnam including the French was keeping the Vietnamese people in total poverty while making massive profits so much so that young Vietnamese girls were forced into prostitution, a sex trade that still goes on to this day in much of Southeast Asia. The foreign nationals, including America, kept this system of exploitation in place by supporting a right wing, dictatorship government in collusion with organized crime.

The organization that was engaged in an armed conflict with the corrupt Saigon government and the foreign nationals was called the South Vietnamese Liberation Army. The French were tired of the never ending war in Vietnam and wanted to get out. That is when the American military became actively involved in combat. From the beginning of the US military involvement in the war the American Air Force started bombing Vietnamese villages indiscriminately killing South Vietnamese people who were not even members of the South Vietnamese Liberation Army and even killing Vietnamese people who were supporters of the Saigon government. This caused many Vietnamese people to turn against the Saigon government and the foreign nationals and join the South Vietnamese Liberation Army. The South Vietnamese Liberation Army in fact was not Communist at all but there were Communists among them. Eventually the carnage and the savagery of the Saigon government, the American military and its allies made the country of North Vietnam feel compelled to enter the war and Communist China said it would provide supplies and support to liberate the Vietnamese people from the oppressors.

At the beginning I mentioned the humor in uniform and the religious references in Readers Digest. I did not mention yet the anecdotes about military chaplains who are members of religious clergy such as rabbis, priests and protestant ministers who are military officers. Obviously Readers Digest as a publication has a purpose. There is a reason why it tells brazen, political lies while tying religion and military together. Those of us who are knowledgeable about propaganda techniques understand that media outlets in collusion with political factions have created what we call “misguided patriotism” which is something people cling to with religious fervor. I am always trying to explain to people that there is a real patriotism that is loyalty to the country and the people not to any government. When people consider it to be unpatriotic to question, to criticize and to choose not to participate in a war they are part of a system of fascism unwittingly.

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