To the Editor:
There were many photographic images from Vietnam that turned public opinion against that war: a young naked girl running from a village that had been hit with napalm, bodies of women and children lying in a ditch at My Lai, bombs falling like rain from B-52s. A particularly graphic picture was of a Vietnamese general killing a handcuffed man suspected of being Viet Cong with a pistol shot to the head. These images flew in the face of a general belief that we were not only there justly but that we “respected life” differently than did other races. War scrambles ideas in odd ways (the My Lai massacre became a war crime, but napalm, white phosphorus, saturation bombing, and Agent Orange did not) but George Orwell was brilliant in linking Doublespeak and perpetual war in the slogan, War is Peace. Such “Doublethink” allows us to accept that which is not true as Truth, that we are righteous when we are not, and, let’s face it, we are there. Torture is termed “enhanced interrogation”, the death of innocent people is “collateral damage”, “saving lives”, never an issue in revolutions across Black Africa, is a rationale for firing cruise missiles into oil-producing Libya, not having “boots on the ground” means we are not engaged while predator drones serve as emotionally detached, video game assassins. The saddest part is that, unlike mental illness, Doublethink is a conscious disconnect from reality. Those who believe assassination is “justice served” are, in truth, following in the same footsteps as John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray, Sirhan Sirhan, and Osama Bin Laden himself. We know it, but we don’t care.