Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

Fake News and Vietnam

Posted: February 13, 2018 by chrisharper in culture
Tags: ,

During a visit last year to Vietnam, I made the trek to Khe Sanh, one of the key battles during the Tet Offensive, which happed  50 years ago.

For most of the journey, I bristled at the Vietnamese guide and propagandist, who maintained Tet was a major victory for the Communist forces. I finally had enough and offered some facts to the other tourists on the bus.

Simply put, the coverage of the 1968 North Vietnamese attack is a startling example of how the U.S. media got it wrong. The media presented Tet as a major loss for the Americans when it actually was a massive defeat for North Vietnam.

The North Vietnamese government launched the offensive during Tet, the celebration of the Vietnamese New Year. The attacks began on January 30 on targets in Saigon and other Vietnamese cities, and ended a little more than a month later when Marines crushed the last pockets of resistance in the northern city of Hue.

As The Washington Post’s Saigon bureau chief Peter Braestrup documented in his book The Big Story, reporters systematically used Tet to turn the reality of a U.S. victory into an image of American and South Vietnamese defeat.

For example, journalists reported that that Vietcong had overrun five floors of the U.S. embassy when the VC never got inside the building. Newsweek’s coverage of the siege of Khe Sanh showed 18 photos out of a total of 29 of dead or wounded Marines or Marines huddling under cover, never mentioning that the Marines inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy.

That campaign of misrepresentation culminated in Walter Cronkite’s half-hour TV special on February 27, 1968, when he told his viewers that Tet had proved that America was “mired in a stalemate.”

Here are some important facts that got lost in the journalistic shuffle. The North Vietnamese Army lost 20 percent of its forces in the South and suffered 33,000 men killed in action for no military gain.

As The New Republic put it recently: “The American public knew none of this, however. The misrepresentation by America’s most respected newsman and most trusted media outlets of what had actually happened during Tet stunned the American public and the body politic. Popular support for the war took a heavy hit, as the war’s critics now grabbed center stage….

“After Tet, American media had assumed a new mission for itself: to shape the nation’s politics by crafting a single coherent narrative, even if it meant omitting certain relevant facts and promoting other false or misleading ones. standing — just as they had convinced them a year earlier that America’s major victory was actually a major defeat.”

Sound familiar?

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Looking at these stories I can’t help but think of this poem:

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Send forth the best ye breed–
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child. Kipling 1899

What else can one think when you see headlines like this:

NYT:

Afghans Avenge Florida Koran Burning, Killing 12

Think about what that headline implies, AVENGE. Words mean things. AVENGE suggest a just retaliation for an act. This suggests that the New York Times finds their acts a legitimate response to the burning of a Koran.

Over at the Guardian they actually have a poll asking who is responsible for these actions and as of this moment 9:44 a.m. EST 46% of the respondents blame the killings on Terry Jones.

I don’t have a lot of respect for Jones but I wonder, would those same people who blame him for the killings blame the “artist” who put up the painting of Christ/Palin and Christ/monkey up if he was attacked by a violent Christian Cult?

What’s the bottom line, both the Times, and the Guardian have concluded that we can’t expect better from the people and those who are busy blaming Jones for these murders consider the Afghans inferiors “half devil and half child”. We CAN’T expect civilized behavior from such people.

How is such an attitude by these papers any different that Kipling’s?

I’m not outraged over the burning of the Koran, I’m outraged at the murder of innocent people and the Fatwa against an US citizen for free speech, and if you consider yourself civilized you should too.

Only a very ignorant person can call Liz Taylor the last star of Hollywood’s Golden Era while O’Hara and de Havilland are still around.

Oh and I think considering Taylor was sleeping with her husband I think its classless to be interviewing Debbie Reynolds on Taylor.

…at least that would be the headline at Think Progress if they were 1. Consistent 2. Not multicultural cowards, and 3. Covering this story:

“America is not showing its power it’s showing appeasement, they are laughing all the way to the bank” Nonie Darwish

Personally I’ve got no problem with the fixing the Egyptian sewer system (promote the general welfare and all that) but we need to realize that we are earning no brownie points by doing any of this stuff. I really think the whole funding Mosques overseas stuff is just to get us wound up.

Meanwhile ThinkProgress hits Newt Gingrich for opposing Gay Marriage along with the majority of the country, Stacy notes:

Except, of course, that there wasn’t anything “secret” about the “funneling”: It was duly reported as required by law and, as Think Progress itself notes, Gingrich was outspoken in his support of the effort “to oust three of the nine Iowa Supreme Court justices” who had voted to mandate same-sex marriage in that state.

Is it “hate” to oppose same-sex marriage?

It is “hate” to oppose Obama, “Gay Marriage” is just one club to beat his opponents with, additionally Newt is a particular target because he committed the ultimate sin to them, he converted to Catholicism.

Exit question: Under Think Progress’ definition since no president has ever supported Gay Marriage and until the mid nineties no congressman ever talked about the subject would they all be considered “Haters”? I’d ask if they would call Islam “Haters” for the same reason but that one is too easy.