In the past week, I spoke with people who remember the Viet Nam War and what many Americans thought of soldiers back then. Many soldiers serving now don't like being thanked for their service. They think of it as insincere or shallow. They take for granted that the public loves us. That just shows how fast public opinion can change. When the young men in the photo below came home, they might have been greeted with "Baby Killer" instead of "Thank you for your service." I have heard both. I like the Thank You.
I enlisted in 1972, during Viet Nam, but never got closer to Viet Nam than Nevada. Even though I never went to Viet Nam, I was part of the military, so I was a "Baby Killer" in the eyes of many. It is certainly true that Lt. Cali and some others killed civilians, but the people who thought of the military as "Baby Killers" had to believe that more than two million Americans enlisted and suddenly became murderers of children. And they had to accept the word of Jane Fonda and others who were not soldiers about the character of soldiers.
In retrospect, it seems crazy that millions of Americans could have believed that about soldiers from their own towns and neighborhoods and that anyone could have accepted the word of Jane Fonda on military matters. But they did. Could anything be more ridiculous than thinking the children of World War 2 veterans were suddenly transformed to monsters?
As a matter of fact, yes.
People who deny man-made climate change must believe that more than a million people with advanced degrees in science are involved in a conspiracy to defraud America and the world. And on top of that, they have to accept the word of Senator James Inhofe, who knows as much about science as Jane Fonda knows about the military, on the science of climate change.
The other expert climate science deniers on Fox News are lawyers, not scientists. Like Inhofe they receive millions from oil-industry-backed groups, most notably Koch-brothers-sponored organizations.
I know many Americans accept the most idiotic conspiracies. They believe that the same government that lost the Iraq War by saying we "Would be greeted as liberators" and the war would "Pay for itself" is somehow involved in staging 9-11. Some Americans think fluoride is a Soviet Plot and have not noticed the fall of the Soviet Union. Others fight vaccination.
And in the late 60s and early 70s they accepted Jane Fonda's evaluation of our military.
James Inhofe believes he is smarter than all those striving, high achieving people who earn doctorate degrees in chemistry, physics, math, geology and related sciences.
Many members of my family have advanced degrees in physics, math and other fields. They all accept the work of people who work in climate science.
In the Army, I serve with many people who think Fox News is credible.
When Jane Fonda called American Soldiers Baby Killers, I was in High School and my Uncle Jack was on his second of three tours flying close air support in Viet Nam. Anyone who believed her was talking shit about a man I admired more than anyone else in the world except my Dad.
When someone says sincerely that all scientists are involved in a conspiracy, they are talking about my wife, my in-laws, one of my daughters and many of my friends.
I despise conspiracy theories for that reason. They are an excuse to dismiss or hate an entire groups. And like prejudice, they are an excuse to lump people together instead of dealing with them as they are.