New York City
Your lead editorial, “The First 100 Days” [Dec. 1], issues a welcome list of ambitious initiatives that would “get a real start on repairing our nation,” including a renewed war on poverty. No mention, however, of race and racism, despite the fact that a mobilized black community provided the margin between victory and defeat. A colorblind approach will not address the distinct problems African-Americans confront: occupational apartheid that leaves almost half of black men in cities like Chicago and Washington without jobs; the evisceration of affirmative action by all branches of government; mass incarceration that exceeds 2 million, two-thirds of them black or Latino, often for violation of drug laws; rampant discrimination in housing; a scurrilous lack of enforcement of civil rights laws, especially Title VIII. Can we “repair our nation” without confronting the legacy of slavery? Is the colorblind left going to participate in the charade of using Obama to sidestep racial issues? And is the Democratic Party willing to risk a backlash from blacks who feel betrayed by the election of “the first black President”?
What We Did in Vietnam
Laguna Woods, Calif.
Nick Turse’s “A My Lai a Month” [Dec. 1] is the best I’ve ever read regarding the truth of what we did in Vietnam. I served as an Army medic in Vietnam at a place called Bearcat from February to October 1969. I was attached to a unit that supported one of the main assault helicopter companies that did so much of the murder in the Delta for the 9th Infantry operations during the time of Operation Speedy Express. That unit was the 240th Assault Helicopter Company. I recall a door gunner who was known to have killed at least 500, and I recall talk about atrocities committed by the unit. I have many memories.
Shelter Island, N.Y.
I have never heard of Speedy Express, but I do not doubt this report. I was an officer in the 3/47th of the 9th Infantry from December 1967 to June 1968 in the 2nd Brigade under General Ewell. Body count was very important, as was the number of patients we treated as part of the Medical Civil Action Program. The counts were never very accurate, and the numbers were more important than the help we tried to provide to the locals.
I sent this article out to my VFP/IVAW list. Robert McNamara, in the film The Fog of War, says we killed 3.4 million Vietnamese. They died somewhere, and we were the ones who killed them.