|Columns: Napalm: Not Your Ordinary Jelly (Views: 9,111)
Contributed by Harrell Graham
on November 18th, 2010
by Harrell Graham
The 60’s burned certain images into our consciousness. One of them is what napalm does to human
I bet the current generation doesn’t even know what this stuff is:
gasoline mixed with petroleum jelly so that when it is dropped on
you, burning, it sticks, all gooey-like—burning, with no way to
wipe the jelly fire off causing exquisite pain. If we had been
dropping it on Nazis in a real war that would have been okay with me.
But we were dropping it on civilians in their grass hut villages.
is it, exactly, about
fire bombing civilians
the American military is so infatuated with?
The US Napalmed Vietnamese Children
was an actual war strategy of the Second World War, too: outfit the
latest flying fortresses with incendiary bombs and drop them on
dozens of cities—yes, setting entire cities on fire--in both
Germany and Japan, killing primarily--or only--civilians. These
weren’t ‘mistakes’, or ‘accidents’ but carefully planned
attacks on men, women and children who were not, by any stretch of
the imagination, soldiers.
you require more understanding of these sorry episodes in American
history then I suggest you rent the movie, “The
Fog of War”
in which Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara lays bare these
sickening acts of cowardice disguised as ‘battle’. McNamara
cries in front of the camera as he remembers what he was a part of.
still hope for humanity
a proponent of burning civilians can realize the mistakes he’s
couldn’t understand why some were so angry with those of us in the
60’s and 70’s who just simply didn’t want to pour gasoline
jelly on rice farmers and their families. They called us cowards
for refusing to fight in Vietnam but, truly, it was they who were
cowards for not having the courage to stand up and say “No” to a
bullshit war. Secretary of Defense McNamarra all but admits this as
his singular failure as an American: his inability to say “No”
when it really mattered.
are rules for war that are agreed to in international law. Number one
among them is: no deliberate targeting of civilians. If the United
States of America continues to deliberately target civilians then it,
too, will go the way of other great powers who have faded into
history because they turned against humanity by not adhering to the
rules of war. (Read the excellent book, “The
Lessons of Terror”,
for a greater historical understanding of how using terror to fight
terror is ultimately self-defeating.)
things would give me greater pleasure than to find a Hitler in my
crosshairs while I squeezed the trigger. In that case, happiness
would truly be a warm gun, as John Lennon said. But murdering
civilians should not be on the agenda of anyone claiming to represent
what is good about the United States of America.
I’m waiting for the day when another kind of Vietnam memorial is
erected, one that pays homage to the hundreds of thousands of
American citizens who rallied to stop the war in Vietnam, to bring
the troops home, to end that terrible, wasteful, murderous chapter in
American history. How many lives did the Vietnam protesters save by
shortening the war? Yes, erect a wall to them
so that we may go there rejoicing in the power of the human spirit to
defy a war machine run amock.
yet even another
would be in order: not just for the antiwar protesters but also one
of Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian civilians killed in the war.
if the only casualties or heroes deserving a memorial were the
American kids sent by their blood-thirsty parents and elected
officials to die in the muck of Vietnam.
Napalm: Not Your Ordinary Jelly
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