Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Day We Lost Our Nation

Ngày Mất Nước (The Day We Lost Our Nation)
Reflections on attending the Viet Namese Community of Houston Black April Memorial
By Stephen Sherman

In his Inaugural Address in 1961, John F. Kennedy clearly delineated the battle lines of the struggle that characterized the Twentieth century. His audience understood that any authoritarian regime (by whatever name) stifled the Individual Creative Potential and Initiative that made our Society great.
Six years later I was in Vietnam, trying to explain the American presence to people whose interest were focused on more basic needs. The Communists used our ideological language, cynically, to defeat us. Theirs was the People's Democracy, here to "liberate" their brothers in the South and bring to them the freedoms that were being denied them by the colonialists who meant to enslave them. Add to that formula the factor of fear -- fear of becoming collateral damage and fear of reprisals for speaking out -- and you have a very hard sell.
Even our own citizens began accepting the enemy propaganda and we had no counter because our schools had lost any intent and ability to teach us about our national virtues.  Instead, every flaw and error ever made in our society was highlighted, so that the image of America as an arrogant imperialist, racist, greedy nation became too common in the minds of our youth.
In fact, Lyndon Baines Johnson was simultaneously embarking on a Second Front that usurped the very Individual Initiative and Spirit that was basic to American Democracy and began to entrench a dependent class in American society, irrespective of race, color, creed, religion or social status.
Eventually we surrendered the war in Vietnam because it was deemed to sap our ability to fight this "War on Poverty." When Saigon fell, people like our now-incumbent Vice President Joe Biden, suggested that the Vietnamese would be better off under the Communist government; that the absence of war was worth the loss of freedom; and that Communism was the moral equivalent of our own form of government.  The media which had put every real or alleged abuse of the Saigon government under a microscope suddenly ignored the thousands of executions, over a million people in “re-education” camps, and the official discrimination against anyone who’d served the Saigon government in even the least position.
April 30th has been memorialized each year since 1975 by Vietnamese-Americans as the date their homeland was irretrievably lost to Authoritarianism.
As we flash forward a third of a century we find Communism as an ideology is fully discredited. Our chief rival imploded when it reached the point where the expectations of an unproductive population exceeded the ability of the system to meet its commitments. Where Communism still exists, in China, Cuba, Vietnam and North Korea, it does so in name only to preserve the authority of the Nomenklatura who use it to retain control of the national wealth and resources while permitting limited freedoms, but no meaningful dissent
The war on poverty continues today, a war that is far longer, far more costly and far more disruptive of America's moral fiber than was the Vietnam War and all the military conflicts since, combined. It disincentivized both work and marriage. It created generations with an entitlement mentality. It drained the federal budget and gave the federal government more and more control over the individual.
The Great Campaign to transform America is sweeping towards Total Victory. From the grave, Khrushchev’s shoe is pounding on the table. To save America we must restore rather than transform it. In Vietnam today, it is now a crime to "abuse freedom and democratic rights to violate state interests.”
We must elect a government which will put brakes on the growth of its own power or risk the certainty that this unchecked monster will erode away the promise of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness that has been America. It certainly cannot financially sustain itself at this level much longer.
My Vietnamese-American friends are among the last people to truly appreciate what freedom can be, but many of their offspring have been processed through our educational system to hold out their hands and ask what their government can do for them. How do we tell their children, and the rest of our fellow citizens, what happens when the government grows itself into the all-powerful bureaucracy that controls people thoroughly, “for their own good”? History is replete with examples: the huge body of repressive laws, the suppression of all dissent, the omnipresent government police force with summary powers, the prisons and work farms for those who offer any resistance or objections. No one is immune. The fence-sitters cannot claim absolution because of their impartiality. The idealistic revolutionaries can expect to be singled out first for “re-education”, in order to protect the regime from internal dissent.  Individual freedom will not die with a bang, it will erode away with just some whimpering.
Will we remember November 6, 2012 as the beginning of the end of our Constitutional Republic or the beginning of a long hard struggle to restore Our Country? Whatever happens, there will be no place on Earth to which we might retreat.
-- 30 --

Stephen Sherman was a First Lieutenant with the U.S. Army 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Vietnam, 1967-68.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. And, welcome home. Ron P.