Monday, September 07, 2009

Loose Change and My Lai

I watched Loose Change: an American Coup recently, and although the production values are improved, I found it rather boring. Much of the problem is the first 15 or so minutes are nothing but a montage of bad historical events without anything tying them together. One example is a short clip on the My Lai massacre where a platoon of troops under Lieutenant William Calley shot up a village of Vietnamese.

The film never explains its relevance, although I am guessing it is there to repeat the conspiracy theorist belief that US troops are just mindless drones who will commit any amoral act simply because they are told to. This fails on several levels though, first of all because this was not a planned act, but rather a case where a poorly led unit got caught up in the "bloodlust" as it were. Secondly, this horrible incident also shows how hard it is for a massive conspiracy to succeed.

Yes, in any group of people you will find those who will commit heinous actions, whether for money, power, or no particular reason at all. You will, however, also find people who will do anything they can to prevent this from happening, even at the risk of their own lives. The problem with a large conspiracy is you really have no way of knowing who is who ahead of time. There is no SAT score for loyal corrupted minions.

To make my point in regards to My Lai, there is the case of Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson Jr. As a CW3 myself, I have known about his story for quite a while now, and he is regarded as a hero among the army community.

Mr Thompson and his crew came upon US troops killing civilians at the village of My Lai on 16 March 1968.

He put his helicopter down between the soldiers and villagers, ordering his men to shoot their fellow Americans if they attacked the civilians.

"There was no way I could turn my back on them," he later said of the victims.

Mr Thompson, a warrant officer at the time, called in support from other US helicopters, and together they airlifted at least nine Vietnamese civilians - including a wounded boy - to safety.

He returned to headquarters, angrily telling his commanders what he had seen. They ordered soldiers in the area to stop shooting.

These are the stories you will never hear about in a Loose Change movie.

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