“War is hell, and those who start them belong there,” a wise man once stated. Yet, on each Memorial Day we are subjected to pomp and circumstance by those who send out the young to fight and die. We worship our soldiers, (hopefully) remember the civilian victims, and yet choose to forget the perpetrators. Every May 30th I look back once again and see Tommy Lombardo, the church crossing guard's son (who lost her trademark smile the day she lost her boy), and I see Vito Putchko, the Polish immigrant building superintendent's son. They would be standing so close to me at Saint Edmund's 5 o'clock mass, or pass me on Avenue U, kidding as only teenage boys can. Then, as a sudden postscript to those memories, the two are killed in South Vietnam, “defending the freedom” of a people who did not want us there. Two guys from my Brooklyn neighborhood who never got to see the other side of twenty-one, dying for a cause as phony as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that justified it. War is hell!
Saddam Hussein was a thug, but he was Reagan's thug, and George the elder's as well. Didn't matter whatever inhuman tortures and gasses he inflicted upon the Iraqi dissidents, the Kurds, or Iranian soldiers. No, what mattered was that Saddam Hussein, installed with the help of our country, kept the Shiites, the Kurds, the Socialists and the Communists under control, or else underground. That kept the oil (and US oil cartel profits) flowing, and it kept “order” in that region. If one reads James Bamford's Body of Secrets or Charles Higham's Trading With the Enemy, one sees just how far both American foreign policy and corporate interest can reach. Vietnam should have taught us those lessons. It apparently did not for over 50% of our voting public. They bought (and sadly, many continue to buy) the propaganda campaign of lies, half-truths, innuendoes and false labeling that this Bush administration and compliant media offered us. To quote one of history's preeminent propaganda masters:
“There was no point in seeking to convert the intellectuals. For intellectuals would never be converted and would always yield to the stronger, and this will always be the ‘man in the street.’ Arguments must therefore be crude, clear and forcible, and appeal to emotions and instincts, not intellect. Truth was unimportant and entirely subordinate to tactics and psychology.”
As this Memorial Day floats by -- and Tommy Lombardo and Vito Putchko will miss another summer, another trip to the beach, another season of family and friends -- let us remember them. Let us also remember that the Vietnam War did not end because Nixon decided that it was time. No, it ended because many towns and cities of our great nation saw their street corners and squares filled with marchers and protesters. The regular folks, not just the so-called radicals and hippy types, became the majority of the antiwar movement. Newspapers were flooded with one main point of discourse: “This Vietnam thing is wrong -- send our kids home!” Fast forward to May 30th, 2005. Let us all read the Downing Street Memo, released in the London Times on April 28th, and still buried by our mainstream press. Finally, let us not just simply honk in support of our neighbors who stand on street corners in dissent of this war. Let us park and join them, and allow democracy to really survive in America. And yes, by the way, that quote above was not written by Karl Rove . . . rather, by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister.
P. Anthony Farruggio is co-founder of "Pro Activists of Volusia County," a Central Florida grassroots organization. A small businessman and columnist, Mr. Farruggio spent his formative years in Brooklyn, N.Y. the son and grandson of Brooklyn longshoremen. He is a graduate of Brooklyn College, and his articles have been posted on numerous progressive web sites and newspapers worldwide, including CounterPunch. He can be reached at: PAnthonyF@aol.com.
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