A review written by Professor Thomas Bass titled America’s Amnesia is truly worth reading and provides far greater detail and insight than your present author is capable of.
The new PBS documentary by Ken Burns and collaborator Lynn Novick on the Vietnam catastrophe (which it always was) is a deeply reactionary film series that will efficiently and effectively trick liberals who don’t know any better into moving further to the right. This can and should be attributed to its financing by David Koch of Koch Brothers fame, a family practice that dates back to when his father funded the John Birch Society at the dawn of the Cold War.
Burns and Novick are relatively late to the game when it comes to documentaries about this war and their predecessors were much more honest about these matters, creating a definitive body of evidence that serves as an important check against their intellectual fraud. Films like In the Year of the Pig (directed by Emile de Antonio, 1968), Vietnam: A Television History (Judith Vecchione, Austin Hoyt, Martin Smith and Bruce Palling, 1983) along with nonfiction books like The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam, A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan, and Vietnam: A History by Stanley Karnow, all provide a sharp rebuttal to the Koch-Burns collaboration.
Some would say that these works have a definite leftist slant but, with the exception of de Antonio, that is complete nonsense. All these aforementioned works were created by mainstream American journalists who simply told the truth about a war that the public had been told lies about for decades. Sheehan, Karnow, and Halberstam were not Communists, they simply did their jobs as journalists.
And so where do we begin to parse through the problems?
The film opens with a rather absurd claim by an American veteran about how, until fairly recently, vets did not talk about the war with other vets. This is preposterous because, from 1967 until today, Vietnam Veterans Against the War has been an active nonprofit organization that has never stopped talking about the war. As far back as Jimmy Carter Americans were talking about a “Vietnam syndrome” and mostly getting over it. (The notable exception being those who died and some of their loved ones.)
After an admittedly impressive prologue, the Burnsumentary opens with a sequence featuring Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall, which is used for two rotten reasons. First, it invokes a nostalgia for the dead and the lost American Baby Boomer innocence that was the ultimate casualty of the war.
Second, using a song by Dylan invokes a set of emotions affiliated with the peace movement that successfully ended this vile and illegal war. But this bullshit notion of Baby Boomer innocence is deeply imperialist, racist, misogynist, and homophobic.
A large part of the 1960s and ’70s upsurge was provoked by this war, no doubt. But the other part was caused by this country being such a God-awful place to live if you were not a white straight Christian male. And because this is a deeply reactionary film passed off as mainstream Democratic Party liberalism, it toys with people in the hopes of getting their guard down rather than pay tribute to their memories and the peace movement. This is capped off with the claim that the war was “begun in good faith” by “decent people” and it was a calamity caused by mistakes.
That’s just pure bullshit, the Vietnam war was caused by everything but that.