Today’s reading was another example of the same narrative as we are getting accustomed to learning about. For as long as I can remember, I have always understood and been taught that the United States entered the Vietnamese war in order to expel communism and save the people of Vietnam. However, Zinn offers a different perspective that seems eerily similar to that of the revolution in the United States. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnamese revolutionist complained of being his people being abused and starved to death. Ordinarily, I would assume that the United States would have supported the oppressed, not help strong to economic incentives, but according to Zinn, it wasn’t the case (p. 471). I found it particularly interesting that the United States had a somewhat similar revolution not too long ago, in which a foreign ruler was treating the native population poorly, and those natives wanted change and were willing to make it happen. Furthermore, the methods used such a guerilla warfare were critiqued by America when used by the Vietnamese, but they weren’t too different from what the used in the American revolution. Specifically, John Mcnaughton’s tactic of flooding the rice fields (p. 481) reminds me of Sherman’s march. We tend to view Sherman’s march as unethical and as a tactic taken too far, but ironically in this instance it seems to be more acceptable.
The next point I found particularly interesting was the view and opinion of black men fighting in the war. As we have discussed in class, listening to Langston Hughes’ “Will V day be Me Day too?” poem, the black community struggled emotionally to fight a war for a country that did not entirely offer them the freedom, liberty, and equality it was giving the rest of its citizens, yet these blacks were being used to fight a war in the name of this same country. Blacks in Mississippi argued that “No Mississippi Negroes should be fighting in Viet Nam for the white man’s freedom, until all the negro people are free in Mississippi” (P. 484). This offers a very valid point that I had not considered much until taking this class.
With this being said, however, I struggle with this topic a little bit more than others we have covered. I have family members who fought in the Vietnamese war. I have heard their stories and listened to their trials while on this journey, so I am partial to this cause. Zinn offers a very drastically different viewpoint than what we are used to hearing. As I have had very close relationships with people who have fought this war, it is difficult for me to completely buy in to Zinn’s argument that the entire war was for American economic prowess, and that everyone fighting the war was either 100% on board for doing whatever was necessary to keep America atop the economic leaderboard, or so violently opposed to the war that they were thrown in jail.