Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ann Wright and GI's Against the Vietnam War

Ann Wright, Arkansas hero, retired Army Colonel, who resigned from the State Department to protest her opposition to the Iraq War, and who ran Cindy Sheehan's camp at Crawford, Texas last summer, has got into trouble again. This time, she was detained, and charged with sedition, at Fort McNair, for passing out flyers for the new film, Sir! No Sir! The Suppressed Story of the GI Movement to End the War In Vietnam.

This was reported by Democracy Now! yesterday. But the reason you should watch this segment is because it features a long clip from the film, Sir! No Sir!. The film, as is obvious from the title, is a documentary dealing with the very strong opposition that emerged, inside the US military, to the war in Vietnam. There is an interview with Jane Fonda, active in a troupe called FTA (Fuck/Free the Army), that used to travel around the country and perform for GIs (in one scene you can spot Donald Sutherland). The film tells an untold, suppressed, and essentially censored story of the GI antiwar movement, of the hundreds of underground papers put out at bases and on ships, of the some half million cases of desertion. It puts the lie to the myth that veterans who came home from the war were spat on by antiwar protesters (most famously, in the Rambo films). Fonda was not anti-military, her anti-war activity involved her working very closely with GI's. H. Bruce Franklin's essential book, Vietnam and Other American Fantasies (2001), devotes chapter 5 to the story of antiwar activity inside the military. Although I was involved in the antiwar movement when I was in the US (68-69, 71), I didn't know or remember this story, or at least, the extent of GI activity. (I teach this book in my Popular Culture class, and students love it.) I can't wait to see this film! See the official website for information on screenings, and for a preview.

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