Blood Ties: The Furies That Haunt the American Family

Below is a comment posted on this website  by one of our regular readers, Scott Douglas. I wanted to bring it up to the front page and highlight it, because I think it is an emblematic story of the history of our times. So with his permission, here it is:

In December of 1972, when I was just a lad of thirteen years, the United States government launched a shock and awe campaign of carnage against Hanoi and Haiphong, delivered by machines from the air. Nixon was irate because negotiations over terms for ending the war in Vietnam had become stalled...and he was trying to outmaneuver a Congress hot to end the war on it's own terms. Nixon didn't have a lot of time. He needed results...

Anyway, many civilians died. I don't know how many.

But no nation had dropped that many munitions from the air in one week on two cities since WW II and the days of Bomber Harris - and lots of earnest folks in the West squawked about it. I vaguely remember the noise, similar in tone to the upset over the invasion of Cambodia, but not so loud...

The protests didn't register deeply in our household because my father, an Air Force officer, was in his second tour of duty in Southeast Asia at the time. It was Christmas and our dad was in the war, again.

Although the war was planned in Omaha by the big brass, my father was actually the airborne commander of the first B -52 raids in that campaign, and lots of his planes were being shot down. That's all we were really worried about.

He was up there.

Being shot at.

Several years later, when I was a little older, I saw film taken at the time of the bombings...

Not the eerie, green, scope-lit cockpit images from inside the B 52's with the canned voices of perfectly calm airmen reporting on the explosions of surface-to-air missiles all around their positions. No, these were taken on the ground, in Hanoi, by French journalists...

I will never forget the grainy footage of a woman standing on the lip of a crater -- where her house had been the day before -- screaming with a kind of animal abandon that terrified me. I knew she was an Asian woman and I knew she was a Vietnamese woman, but I couldn't tell that from her features. They were completely distorted by the shrieking hysteria of some open abyss of mortal horror that had utterly possessed her.

She was screaming about her dead children.

(Continued after the jump)

I think I was 16.

So, he was up there?

Being shot at?

That was the beginning for me. That was when I looked around the 'family room' and realized that there was blood on everything. I felt sick. I knew that the nation was sick.

The social turmoil, the assassinations and riots, not to mention the personal dislocation that years of war had brought to our household -- and would continue to bring like a slow curse -- kind of snapped into perspective.

And here we are, again. 2007.

The idea that we have, again, destroyed another country, wiping out a whole city with napalm and phosphorous, murdered hundreds of thousands of people...

No, I can't start listing the familiar charges or I will be sick with my own hypocrisy. A listing of particulars that is only a litany. A litany of crimes in which we are all complicit by the fact of our citizenship. A litany that doesn't express real guilt, and so offers no absolution. Our desperate repetition of the crimes become only an exercise in stress management.

And, now, you see, I really want to start laughing.

What do they call that, inappropriate affect?

Because 'they' (WE) are going to do it AGAIN, very soon, to yet ANOTHER nation!

And I sit here at this computer. My lifeline to other caring citizens…But I am so tired of watching this, decade after decade, now.

Arthur [Silber] keeps pointing out that this has been going on for a century...

May those good souls present and those powers unseen that disdain the cruelty borne of man's ignorance enlighten the hearts of enough of us, and soon, to end this blasphemy, once and for all. Amen.

.... But when you are reduced to prayer, in the comments section of a political blog... man, you know you're fucked.