Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Vietnam: An Independent Study (July 13)

Chickenhawk (93% completed)
Again, we hear stories of missions, drinking and whoring, but in this section we see a bit more discussion about the war itself and its execution. His superior says that Mason’s previous unit and the air strikes don’t really help the cause: As soon as you kill all those civilians, you can’t make any progress in the war. Several in his crew do start to wonder why they are there in the first place.
Mason switches units and finds the new one is more lackadaisical regarding regulations (busing in hookers, using the helicopters to transport and sell ice, and other things previously prohibited, but they did get the job done). We also hear of comments from McNamara and LBJ about how they are currently winning the war and that it will be won (such statements almost seem comical in retrospect).
More disturbingly, Mason describes how they were to transport 21 prisoners who had done some gruesome things (killed US soldiers, cut of their penises and put them in their mouths). Another trooper was overtaken by vengeance and began executing the tied up prisoners. Mason exclaimed "It's murder" but didn't take overt action to stop it.
Finally, there is the incident of Mason inspecting a village that was bombed and his terrible experience of seeing an old woman burned to the barbed wire encapsulating the village. Let freedom reign...

Camden 28 (2007) Directed by Anthony Giacchino
This was a very interesting story but only a decent documentary (still worth watching though). The latter comment is due to one or several structural flaws that are hard to describe exactly but the doc didn't quite flow like it should have. The primary issue was that the audience should have been provided with a bit more context (as it shouldn't be assumed people lived through that time period).
Broadly, the film is about twenty-eight members of the "Catholic Left" who were arrested in 1971 for attempting to break into and vandalize a draft board in Camden, New Jersey.
It was a film about the US domestic situation in Vietnam, the nature and purpose of civil disobedience, the workings of the FBI and how states treat their population. It was also a very significant court case. Delightfully, Howard Zinn makes a brief appearance in the doc (and made an important one in the trial by laying out the history of American civil disobedience).


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