By his own admission, Terry Garlock expected to see an unfair history of the Vietnam War told by Academy Award winner Ken Burns, and his biased expectations were fulfilled. The rest of the country (including columnist Cal Thomas) watched an insightful documentary on this war viewed from every conceivable angle.
In the PBS documentary, American battlefield commanders and soldiers were universally lauded for their resourcefulness, combat skills, and execution under fire while American atrocities like My Lai were presented as aberrations rather than normative.
The ubiquitous villains were always identified as Ho Chi Minh (the Lenin figure) and the butcherous Stalinist, Le Duan, who repeatedly sent his troops into slaughter, murdered countless civilians, and terrorized the entire country.
Burns clearly noted that every Viet Cong offensive (including Tet and the Easter Offensive) were dismal military failures. Coverage of student protests of the war included explicit polling data that evidenced how ineffective these displays affected the general American populace. Indeed, Burns points out that violent protests of the war actually increased general support of the war efforts.
Criticism of the United States was firmly targeted upon our leaders. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and Secretary Robert McNamara were supremely naive in conceptualizing the war effort from the beginning and untruthful in their optimistic communications of progress to the American people.
The more cynical criticisms were directed at General Westmoreland for his wholesale prevarications and Richard Nixon for his treacherous disregard of American and Vietnamese lives in the service of his selfish political gains. Few historians dispute any of these tenets.
Most disturbingly, Mr. Garlock advocates a chilling abrogation of First Amendment rights during wartime so that the military may act with impunity. This Orwellian strategy is derived directly from the playbooks of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Ho Chi Minh himself.
I am amazed that a conservative newspaper like The Citizen would publish this blatant affront to liberty on its front page. If any instructor of minors allows Mr. Garlock to address impressionable students, a cadre of civics teachers should be on hand to disavow this threat to Constitutionally enshrined freedoms.
The framers of our founding document clearly understood the imperative of a free press to guard against government overreach, and this is doubly important during times of war.