Has Anything Really Changed?

Friday, August 19, 2005 at 03:54 AM

Being an old fart doesn't come easy, oft, it's worse than you wish it was, and I don't mean shit like wishing the hair that sprouted on one's ears at 40 would move elsewhere...

I'm watching the Cindy Sheehan saga unfold, much as everyone else is, and it stirs old memories into place: Gee willikers, what's changed since Vietnam?

At first, our anti-war movement seemed dead in the water long before we could set sail. Almost immediately, we'd be assailed with everyone and their brother being so critical of us: "We're over there fighting GODLESS COMMUNISM! What are you, some sort of commie sympathizer?"

Oh, yes, the media was as churlish then as now. Every story I've read to date concerning Cindy..from NPR to CBS to every print rag...all the same: "But, Cindy doesn't speak for everyone. We interviewed Dick Hurtz, and he said....".

Yada, yada, fucking yada. What's changed? The news media in the 1960's and such was the same two-faced hood: Praising "Jesus" Nixon, and at the same time, loading up the evening news with blood, gore, weapons fire, smoke, and dead, dead, dead. You didn't dare openly criticize Dick, Republicruds or shit on the flag, not without getting assailed with comments berating your mother, your patriotism, on and on and on.

We were told, in a way, to shut the fuck up with Nixon's "landslide" win over McGovern, who'd promised us that as soon as the oath was done, pullout would begin in picoseconds. Even to this day, George knew 'nam was a lost cause.

And we had a name for those who believed the lie then: The Silent Majority. Or, as most preferred...The Establishment. The Man. Same characters, different screenplay, eh?

And they would not be turned away from believing Dick was a big penis, a liar and a con artist, that it made no sense to fight a "police action", and why was it the responsibility of all the young men to go and die for such crap?

We, the dissidents of our era, were as determined as those of this one, we could not be convinced Vietnam made sense, that it was worth dying for, and too, we knew...Nixon was incarnate evil, we lacked the proof to hold him accountable for that.

So, we protested. We demonstrated. We marched. We made a lot of noise. The media noticed eventually, and as today, with high reluctance, and as today, always mentioning "those long hair types, those..." when we were described.

Until Kent State. Nixon's handprints were all over it. Symbolically, it said it all: "We are not going to listen to you assholes anymore." But, it backfired, especially when the images showed clean-cut kids, innocents....this is the price of quieting dissent, eh? Four dead college kids and for what?

And up in New York, Country Joe said why:

"What are we fightin' for?
Don't ask me I don't give a damn...
Next stop is Vietnam!
And it's five-six-seven...
Open up them pearly gates!
Hell, there ain't no time to wonder why..

Slowly, change came all the same. The Pentagon Papers got published, mocking the military's "vision" of a failed campaign. The light at the end of the tunnel? An oncoming freighter at Warp 10. Parents were starting to realize...my baby may not come home, except as Country Joe said....in a box.

And, too, older friends who did make it back, some in wheelchairs, crutches, and all with that hollow, haunted look. One, a firebrand Christian young man, so gung ho he enlisted the instant he graduated, so determined, and then, to hold his hand some time later, and to listen to him make my stomach churn, describing in rich detail what it's like to fly through a hailstorm of gunfire, to be toting wounded into the air as fast as the Huey will go, then, to turn eyes left and see his co-pilot, dead, slumped over the cyclic.

And I wonder to myself, an old man, and I look around, and I am sore amazed at what I see. What's changed? Nixon is Bush. Vietnam is Iraq. And our nation, again, is divided deeply over dogma versus reality. More lies, more rhetoric, all of it focused against a cold, hard reality: Fools march into hell proudly, the wise fear it and tremble to avoid it at all costs.

But, change is eternal, only God can make change not take place. The polls are showing strong anti-Bush sentiment building, any lower, and we pray he will implode and collapse on himself, hoping that his event horizon will suck in Santorum, Delay and all the others with him. Similar polls are showing a disbelief in the Rove Talking Points Media, a stirring is taking place: Disillusionment is building.

Such gives me hope, now, restores my faith. Change is on the horizon, it's inevitable, the voices of unreason and illogic will soon be silent, and maybe, just maybe, someone will realize that those who do not study history are forever condemned to repeat it.