The significance of the Vietnam War, both from a historical and a political standpoint, cannot be emphasized enough. It was the most controversial of all America’s military ventures and it led to a rupture in American society that continues to this day. If allowed to hold sway, this rupture threatens American success in Iraq and beyond.
Speakers at a four-day symposium titled, “The Vietnam War: History and Enduring Significance,” at Hillsdale College this month came to much the same conclusion.
Some of the speakers were of the “Vietnam revisionist” variety. These historians and journalists are challenging the accepted “narrative” of Vietnam, which began to be established in the late 60s and through the 70s. This process of revisiting the recent past in the light of the passage of time is part of historical perspective, but in the case of Vietnam it threatens those with a vested interest in the earlier evaluation of the war and those who fought it.
Even on this blog, whenever the subject of Vietnam comes up, one can see how raw the feelings are and how wide and deep the divisions. The 2004 election, Kerry’s nomination, and the Swift Vet controversy also opened up many of these barely-healed wounds. And of course, as I’ve written many times, Vietnam is the template used not only to evaluate the Iraq War, but to plan the Democrats’ strategy in opposing it (see this, as well).
But sometimes that “first draft” of history–such as the Vietnam War as perceived in real time and told in the MSM–cries out for revision, as in “to revise.” To look at again with fresh eyes and new information, and to question whether the standard viewpoint of the time was correct.
Critical thinking demands it.