Nobody Spat on American GIs!, by Jerry Lembcke

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Re: Nobody Spat on American GIs!, by Jerry Lembcke

Postby admin » Mon Jun 06, 2016 7:43 am

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[JERRY LEMBCKE, U.S. ARMY, SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR] The typical story of a spat-upon vet is arriving at the San Francisco Airport ...
where he is met by demonstrators ...
and he says ...
Image
"THE FIRST THING THAT HAPPENED ...
WHEN I GOT OFF THE PLANE IN SAN FRANCISCO ...
A GIRL IN LOVE-BEADS AND A HEADBAND ...
SPAT IN MY FACE AND CALLED ME A BABY-KILLER."
That version of the story has been told over and over and over again.
Being a Vietnam vet, and having come home and worked with the anti-war movement ...
these just didn't resonate as true to me.
So I began to get interested in then where did these stories come from?
And how long had they been around?
Who had begun telling them?
I went back to the point in time in the late 60's, early 1970's ...
to see whether there's any reports in newspaper stories that activists were spitting on Vietnam vets.
No, I didn't find anything.
I looked at some National Lawyer's Guild observation projects of demonstrations ...
to see whether there was anything in their archives about this.
No, nothing there.
Were any Vietnam vets claiming that they were being spat on?
Or were any pro-war people then claiming that Vietnam vets were being spat on?
No.
So I thought, this is getting really interesting.
I was telling a friend of mine, who's a psychologist, she also teaches in women's studies ...
and I was telling her that I was working on a book about Vietnam vets having been spat on ...
and she said, "That's really interesting. Who supposedly did the spitting?"
And I said, "What do you mean?"
She said, "Well, the demographics of the spitters."
And I said, "Young women protesters, hippies."
And she broke out in this big smile and says ...
"Got to be a myth, huh?"
And I knew what was coming next ...
I knew what she was going to say next which is,
"Girls don't spit."
Now, whether girls spit or not, I've had some other conversations about that ...
but it seems pretty unlikely that these spitting incidents occurred.
A lot of these stories again begin with, "Well, we arrived at the San Francisco airport."
No, you didn't arrive at the San Francisco airport. Nobody did.
You maybe arrived at Travis Airbase near San Francisco, and then you were discharged, or you were processed out and you went to the San Francisco airport, that's possible ...
but that's not the way the stories are told. "We were met on the Tarmac at San Francisco Airport." Too many guys got off at the San Francisco airport. Somebody's making something up here.
And certainly if it was at military Air Force bases, there couldn't have been protesters on the base, much less on the Tarmac, or at gateside to meet people.
There are many stories of wounded Vietnam vets being unloaded, people on stretchers being carried from the plane, and they are spat on by protesters who are lining the walkways. Some of those stories really defy common sense. But these stories are picked up, and they are used very authoritatively.

[FIRST BLOOD (RAMBO), 1982] And I come back to the world, and I see all those maggots at the airport protesting me, spitting ...
calling me a baby killer, and all kinds of vile crap! Who are they to protest me, huh?

[JERRY LEMBCKE, U.S. ARMY, SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR] If you went back and looked at the front pages of newspapers in 1969, and 1970, what you were going to see on the front pages of newspapers was about Vietnam vets. They were in the streets. They were political activists. They're on the Capitol Mall, and giving the Nixon Administration fits.

-- Sir! No Sir!, directed by David Zeiger
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