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All posts copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le.
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The views and opinions expressed on this site and blog posts (excluding comments on blog posts left by others) are entirely my own and do not represent those of any employer or organization with whom I am currently or previously have been associated.

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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

December 4, 2004

Written by C.N.

War and Conscience

Originally posted April 2001

Former Senator Bob Kerrey admits that he participated in the massacre of innocent civilians in the Viet Nam War. After more than 30 years of silence, former Senator Bob Kerrey now admits that he participated in the massacre of more than 13 women and children in an attempted raid in the village of Thanh Phong near the Mekong River delta during the Viet Nam War. Kerrey claims that most of the killings occurred only after his Navy SEALs team returned fire after being fired upon.

Former Sen. Bob Kerrey © Time Magazine

However, one member of his team who also participated in the event said that after the team failed to find the suspected communist leaders they were searching for, dozens of villagers were rounded up and summarily executed. This version is supported by at least one woman who survived the killings by hiding, but who did not actually witness the atrocity.

Does Kerrey deserve some credit for coming forth and admitting his guilt in the murder of innocent civilians? Maybe, although 30 years of silence is a long time of personal and public denial. Let us remember that the real reason why Kerrey came forth now was to answer the charges made by his former team member, not out of his own conscience. A lot of people say this sort of thing is bound to happen when you prepare young men to fight in a war they don’t understand. I guess they missed the long-established and universal law of combat and of human rights that you do not kill innocent unarmed women and children — ever.

An equally tragic part of this story was that the U.S. military did absolutely nothing to investigate this incident even after the South Vietnamese reported this and other similar atrocities. What was the U.S.’s official response to this massacre? Amazingly, Kerrey was given the Bronze Star for this incident. Many suggest that at this point, all we can do is to feel Bob Kerrey’s pain. What about the pain suffered by the murdered villagers? Who will feel for them?

Author Citation

Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "War and Conscience" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <> ().

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