One wonders whether the journalists pepper-spraying former senator Bob Kerrey about his conduct on a moonless night in Vietnam 32 years ago ever have faced anything more harrowing than air turbulence between New York City and Washington.
The image of these soft, pampered journalists hurling accusations of war crimes at a man who served his country and lost a leg in the process is obscene. And it is peculiar that the conflicted Kerrey has taken all the heat about this, when facts about Sen. John Kerry's, D-Mass., behavior have come to light, too.
It seems that Kerry, once head of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, perpetuated a little fraud. At a now-legendary demonstration, Kerry, along with other veterans, threw the medals they'd earned onto the White House lawn to dramatize their contempt for the war, their own service there and the nation that sent them. Kerry since has changed his tune, saying he is proud of his Vietnam service. But here's the kicker: It turns out Kerry threw down someone else's medals that day. He kept his. Hypocrite.
But this story did not engage the imagination of the press corps because it didn't fit into one of its tidy categories. Together with Hollywood and other centers of liberal thought, the press has created a bogeyman called American Soldier in Vietnam. He is a drug-abusing, stupid white guy who commits war crimes every day and comes home to become a derelict on a motorcycle. And it is all false.
Americans who served in Vietnam were no more likely than Americans in any other war to commit war crimes, and the overwhelming majority returned home to become solid citizens. Let's not kid ourselves -- crimes happen in every conflict. The suspension of normal rules encourages it. Even the valiant Americans who fought Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito engaged in murder, rape and pillage on rare occasions. Americans even have been known to commit crimes in peacetime. In 1995, three U.S. servicemen abducted, beat and raped a 12-year-old girl on Okinawa.
Vietnam did present more challenges to conscientious soldiers than World War II though …