This pisses me off so much I'm actually seeing red spots in front of my eyes right now. My father experienced the very thing James Wolcott and Jack Shafer say never happened. What does anyone gain by denying Vietnam Vets, and soldiers in uniform generally, were treated like shit by protesters in the states and, yes, spat upon? Why, to rewrite history the way they want to remember it.
UPDATE: Emailed Jack Shafer to tell him my father and his brothers in arms did in fact experience exactly what he says never happened, and this is what I got:
Did your father report the incident? Is there a contemporaneous account of it in a newspaper or a police report? I'm prepared to believe it happened, I just want to see proof.
To whom would he have reported it, and why? You presume a lot of weird things about how this kind of thing went, and what would have happened if it had. Where's your proof it DIDN'T happen? Isn't that the real issue here?
You're the one who's making a public claim of something you are demonstrably ignorant about, and trying to prove a negative to boot (surely you understand how difficult that is?). How many military men and women did you interview about this? Think a little harder about your argument: people who have been through a war aren't likely to run and tell on someone who spits on them because they're wearing a uniform, and they aren't likely to jeopardize their careers over some ignorant ninny with a chip on his shoulder either. You may be threatened by hippies, but I can assure you a man who saw Pearl Harbor bombed and fought in Korea and Vietnam wouldn't be. And he wasn't, just kind of shocked and saddened.
Absence of certain kinds of evidence, cherry-picked by you to slant your argument, is not evidence of absence. You've got an axe to grind about the military, and that's fine. Just don't slander a bunch of people you don't know in the process.
He replied, incomprehensibly:
He could have reported the assault to the police or a newspaper.
I can't prove something DIDN'T happen. And neither can you.
Astounded, I replied thusly:
Then why are you trying?
And yes, he could have. But why would he have? What would he have hoped to gain? Do you misunderstand people, and the military, so thoroughly?
Shafer's reply, to which I replied line by line:
I'm not trying.
Bullshit. You wrote a slanderous essay trying that very thing. Why would you lie so transparently about this?
I'd report an assault, that's why.
I'm sure you would, but in my experience men who aren't pussies take care of their own business, they don't run and tell on people who wrong them. Just the other day a guy almost hit me on the road, then brake-checked me when I blipped the horn to let him know I was there. He chased me down and when I stopped to see what his problem was, he knocked my hat and sunglasses off, trying to provoke me into hitting him. When I slapped his face because he had slapped me slightly knocking my glasses off, he ran and grabbed his phone, yelling "Stay right there! I'm calling the police!" I told him I'd be happy to talk to the police about him trying to cause two car accidents and slapping me first. He chest bumped me a couple of times, cursing all the while, still hoping I'd punch his sorry ass. I declined to give him a reason to charge me with assault.
Did he deserve a beating? Sure. Would it have fucked me over to give in to such an impulse? Totally. It's called discipline, and they teach it in the armed forces. Surely you've heard of it.
I find it preposterous that none of the men who were allegedly spat upon beat the living shit out of the spitters. The people I know who served their country, especially in Vietnam, would not turn the other cheek. Surely there would be news stories or arrest reports stemming from those sorts of brawls. Lembcke could not find one?
I find it preposterous that the people you know would sacrifice their careers to beat up a hippie for doing something that didn't harm them physically. Can't you do any better than "I can't imagine that happening"? There are a lot of things you can't imagine. Doesn't make them nonexistent.
Do you always use this belligerent persona in your correspondence? Does it yield the results you're looking for?
You are slandering a lot of people who you should be thanking for doing what you won't. That seems pretty belligerent to me. And yes, it does. Now fuck off, you're boring the shit out of me with your inane lies.
And that was the end. I suppose I was mean at the end, but it infuriates me that this jackass pretends to not be doing exactly what he has done. Disgusting.