[Until we learn indigenous ways of fighting, we cannot know what it means to fight for this land. Today, we honor Indigenous Peoples’ who’ve served in American Wars. Originally written for Dr. Julie Todd’s Course (Non0Violent Social Change.]
“If the vision is the seed, daily life is the soil.”
-Staughteon Lynd (Todd 2012, 44)
I got lost in the chapter in Counter Power, “How the Vietnam War was stopped”. That memory also seeped onto the front page of Sunday’s New York Times. The war has become a case study of the relationship between the American government and the people impacted by it (Gee 2011, 85, 88). Descriptions of the destruction of human lives and land have left a bloody, haunting watermark on American foreign relations (Gee 2011, 86). And its atrocities were framed by the shame and embarrassment of feeble men. This war delegitimized the government like brett kavanaugh’s appointment to the supreme court delegitimizes the american legal system.
And it’s all mainstream media’s fault.
Well, not all of it,
“The anti-war movement was wise enough not to rely solely on the mainstream media for it’s Idea Counterpower: it made its own. It is estimated that there were as many as 500 different homemade newspapers–otherwise known as ‘zines’” (Gee 2011, 89).
“One anti-war pamphlet explains the escalation of the movement as a whole: ‘We have met, discussed, analyzed lectured, published, lobbied, paraded, sat-in, burned draft cards, stopped troop trains, refused induction, marched, trashed, burned and bombed buildings, destroyed induction centers. Yet the war has gotten steadily worse–for the Vietnamese and, in a very different way, for us’.” (Gee 2011, 92)
(Dis)Honest media presence played an important role in bolstering support for and descent from the government’s orders and actions within our distant neighbor’s borders, “The Pentagon Papers also revealed the sensitivity of the admin to public opinion. Initially, this led to recommendations that the US should bomb Vietnam so intensely and severely that it would be cowed into submission…it was followed by a proposal to destroy locks and dams in order to cause mass starvation…” (Gee 2011, 95). It reminds us now, that truth and fiction, facts and lies, are important to our ability to make decisions. As a nation, are we are even sure what distinguishes the two from each other?As we move forward, the pace of our complex era of globalized communications has yet to be matched with the hordes of diplomatic leaders necessary to meet the needs of international relations, let alone be able to anticipate its future. By leadership, I am referring to the willingness to engage in nation building, not just social responses to personal wants. By leadership, I’m referring to a firm willingness to hold those accountable who are most responsible even when that is ourselves. By leaders, I’m referring to those with the privilege of voice and capability of action. I’m referring to you and me.
Thanks for reading
- Gee, Tim. 2011. Counterpower: Making Change Happen. Oxford: New Internationalist Publications.
- Sanger, David E. 2018. “U.S. Commander Moved to Place Nuclear Arms in South Vietnam.” New York Times, October 7, 2018.
- Todd, Julie. 2012. “Evaluating Violence and (Non)violence: A Critical, Practical Theology of Social Change.”
- Photography by Seth Nagle