Friday, September 28, 2012

Among the Forgotten

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It's not often that the decisions young men had to make in the 1960s about Vietnam and the draft come up, and almost never is the decision  to oppose both and refuse to participate in either given any respect. But Lawrence O'Donnell does it here, in the context of highlighting the amorality of Mitt Romney in actively supporting the war and the draft, and taking a deferement that apparently only Mormons got, so he was not drafted and did not risk participating in the war he advocated.

It is all still a very sore subject.  Soldiers returning from that war felt disrespected.  Perhaps for that reason alone, although probably for others as well, it has been harder for many Vietnam vets to make peace with protestors of that war than it has been for them to make peace with North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers they fought against. 

It has been decades now since anyone has experienced anything like what we experienced, being subject to the draft at the height of the Vietnam war.  Once again there are the naive proponents of a new draft as a way to solve the very real problems of those who serve in the military today.  They don't know what they're talking about. 

How America treats its military veterans is criminal.  But First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of the Vice President, have persistently highlighted their plight, and advocated for them.  O'Donnell is right to point the finger at Mitt Romney, who sees the military, and the horrors of war, only in terms of money.  All he can say is that he wants to increase military spending.   It is money that largely fuels war--money that people like Romney make in huge quantities, while poor young men and women suffer and die so those "builders" can become richer.  That's the brutal truth of it.

In the meantime, there remains another set of young men who made moral decisions in the 1960s who have been disrespected ever since.  O'Donnell's words are rare, and welcome.