As the noted Vietnam War correspondent Joe Galloway says in his preface: “As you read the stories in Terry’s book, think about this: they were the best you had, America, and you turned your back on them.”
I was only one of many Vietnam veterans who wrote opinion columns criticizing the Vietnam War film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, opining their work seemed more like propaganda than history. In doing so I occasionally used “Burns” as shorthand for the pair, to which Ms. Novick emailed me her objection. She is correct, I should consistently include her name as co-producer because she is equally culpable in the hit piece they brazenly call a documentary.
So, Ms. Novick and Mr. Burns, this is for you. My back-handed compliment is that your wholly inaccurate film is a slick rationalization for aging Americans who, decades ago, loudly encouraged our enemy while we were killing each other in combat. For those harboring doubts about actively opposing us in their youth while we served our country in a war, your film may have supplied just the soothing salve they need.
You bent the truth in your film too far, too consistently, too repetitively, and omitted too much to leave any room for me to believe those errors, omissions, distortions, half-truths and complete falsehoods were remotely accidental.
Like a house of distorted mirrors, you portrayed the murderous and avowed Stalinist Ho Chi Minh as a nationalist driven by reunification of North and South Vietnam rather than his real commitment to Communist conquest of free South Vietnam. Your film repeatedly depicted the war as unwinnable, the North Vietnamese cause as just, war crimes between the two sides as morally equivalent, American troops as victims, South Vietnamese as mere bit players, all that and much more of your content completely opposite of the truth. You selected for dominant interviews from the tiny percentage of American combat veterans with a grievance who joined the protestors when they returned home.
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