by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
No, I’m not talking about the panning and zooming effect overused in videos that rely heavily on still photos. Instead, this blog entry focuses on the left-of-center viewpoint that pervades Burns’ historical documentaries. Scott Johnson of Power Line raises concerns about Burns’ dishonest approach to the Vietnam War.
I think the documentary seeks to fix the record in falsity. To take only one example, as I say in my “Notes,” Burns and his colleagues were apparently unable to find a soldier to recall his service in anything other than shades of disillusion, disgust and shame. Much more remains to be done on this deeply dishonest work to prevent it from becoming the received history of the war.
Wanting to check my own heated reaction to the documentary against the observations of more knowledgeable observers, I wrote Yale’s Charles Hill. …
… Before he alighted at Yale, Professor Hill had an incredibly distinguished career in the State Department. In the course of his career in the government he served in Saigon during the climactic period of the Vietnam War (1971-1973). Among the roles he served was that of mission coordinator in the United States Embassy. …
… Professor Hill watched the documentary with intense attention. I asked Professor Hill if he would comment on the documentary, however briefly. He responded:
“The most repulsive sub-theme starts at the very outset when a veteran says: ‘I was scared. I hated them. I was SO scared!’ This quaking fear of American troops is repeated throughout the 18 hours, often silently with just quick photos of US soldiers with expressions of fear.”
In a separate message he commented on the documentary’s depiction of the war after 1968:
“When the US and South Vietnamese cause turned the war on the ground in a sharply different direction and began actually to win it (I was there), the cultural elite of Haight-Ashbury and Woodstock, promoted by the media, simply stopped reporting on the war so that the astonishing South Vietnamese victories over the invading North Vietnamese Army on three international fronts in 1972 was barely mentioned. Burns’s aim is to make sure the annoyingly christened (sic) ‘Millennials’ will be locked into the leftist narrative of his own formative years -– to him, the real ‘Greatest Generation.’”
I think we are beginning to get somewhere.