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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Another Genocider Dead

It seems rude to speak ill of the dead, but when they played a major role in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, it's hard not to just say "Good riddance!" I was going to write some sort of obit for General William Westmoreland, but then I remembered that something I wrote two years ago will suffice:
I just watched the 1974 documentary Hearts & Minds. It is an amazing look at the Vietnam war and the people that it affected. It features war footage, interviews with soldiers and pilots, generals, Vietnamese villagers, and politicians. The best insights come from Daniel Ellsberg.

Director Peter Davis makes several telling points just by letting the film run on for a while. In one scene, a funeral of a South Vietnamese soldier is shown. His son holds a picture of him and wails pitifully, on and on. The soldier's mother tries to get in the grave with the coffin, but is pulled out. She cries. The son continues to cry. Soldiers shovel dirt on the coffin. The son kisses the picture, then wails some more. This goes on for minutes. When Davis finally leaves this scene, he goes to a clip of General William Westmoreland, who was commander of US forces in Vietnam for several years. Westmoreland is saying that Orientals don't see life the same way we do--that life is cheap, that they don't hold it dear.
Maybe the General will get to meet a few of those Orientals he dispatched prematurely from this mortal coil. Could be interesting.

Billmon has a much more thorough memorial to Westmoreland.