Resolving The Spitting Debate

February 3rd, 2007 7:27 PM

There's a growing blog debate going on as regards peace activists spitting on returning veterans during the Vietnam era. It begins here at Slate in an article claiming the charges are false.

The myth of the spat-upon Vietnam veteran refuses to die.

At Volokh, Jim Lindgren points out some weaknesses in search mechanisms that could lead to the stories not showing up in contemporaneous reports, leading to the assumption that it didn't happen.

Always up for a Google challenge, I decided to take a look and can confirm that spitting and more did in fact take place. Stored on a government server found via advanced Google, there's this first person account - also available in pdf.

As a young Marine officer Carl Bourne was trying to help recruit University of
Connecticut students into the USMC. Some UConn students responded by spitting at him and throwing ink on his dress uniform, Bourne said about his experience on the Storrs campus.

Bourne was the target of spitting and ink throwing in 1973. As a lieutenant he paid for his uniforms, so the ink was not a welcome alteration, especially considering the low pay of the early 1970s. He said he was also called a "baby killer" – right in his own home state.

Another instance is documented in a government fact sheet.

The Legacy of Psychological Trauma from the Vietnam War for American Indian Military Personnel

"I was spit on and called a baby-killer in the mainstream culture when I first came home, and no way any college would accept me or any good job would be open to me. I felt too ashamed and enraged to accept the love and gratitude my family and community showed me. I thought I was going crazy, waking up in a sweat trying to choke my wife, seeing signs of Charley around every corner when the weather was hot and steamy.

Another report covering multiple instances from Cornell that should also be available through the Library of Congress and a Veteran's History Project.

The Tet Offensive began 37 days after Henschel arrived in Vietnam. His unit was sent into Hue, the old imperial capital.

Henschel's platoon was almost wiped out and Henschel himself was shot in the head when he tried to rescue a wounded comrade. The unconscious Marine was placed on top of a tank. When a shell hit the tank, Henschel fell off, and the tank apparently ran over his left leg.

"At this point, probably everyone thought I was dead, but I was unconscious for seven weeks. I regained consciousness in San Diego, Calif., at the naval hospital there. I weighed 72 pounds," Henschel said.

Henschel tried to go to college after he recovered, but he had trouble concentrating because of his injury and discovered that many fellow students at Cornell were hostile.

"I can't count the number of times I was called a murderer," he said. "And actually spit in my face."

Another first person account via a DOD publication:

Back in the 1960s, Cannon graduated from high school and 10 days later was enlisted in the Air Force. He was stationed at Clark Air Base in the Philippines for 17 months beginning in June, 1967. Upon his return to the United States, he was spit on three times while riding the cable cars in San Francisco simply because he was in uniform.

This below from a California Assembly Bill on Public Safety circa 2003:

"Overcome by their hatred, people threw rocks at the returning soldiers.  Some spit at them.  Others physically attacked them and tormented them.  No one should have to endure that kind of hate-related violence for simply agreeing to serve their country."

None of the above reports have a dog in this fight now. But obviously they support reports like this at Black Five:

It happened to me, and I asked my father if it had ever happened to him.  If anyone were to be on the receiving end, it would have been him after being involved in the Ohio State riots and Ohio University riots for years.

As The Jawa Report suggests, the notion that returning veterans weren't abused, particularly by spitting, after Vietnam is simply pathetic revisionism by an increasingly revolting Left that opposes the war, while claiming to support the troops.

Were that so, they would not be so interested in revising history and, by default, calling so many of our troops, both past and present, liars to boot.

So, can we question their patriotism now?