creeds remote from Western ones,nhowever, to make things even worse,nAmerican liberals supposed freedom andndemocracy to be synonymous, and proclaimed,nquite arbitrarily, that freedomncould not survive without democracy innAsia—a rather naive supposition. It didnnot work, and in the process of losingnthe war, freedom, a concept basicallyndivorced from democracy in most of Asia,nwent down the drain.nNowhere was the cult of deficientnthinking so omnipresent as on thenVietnam War scene that stretched fromnSaigon and the Mekong Delta to thenAmerican editorial offices and universityncampuses. The world, Western civilization,nand the logic of political justice fornthe masses oppressed by communism innEurope, needed avenging. People innWarsaw, Prague, Leningrad and Sofianprayed for American intransigence asnthe just retribution for their sufferings.nFor her part, America chose the role of annoble sinner and permitted itself to transformnunexamined emotions and plainndefeatism into a morality play. One ofnthe most bizarre episodes in the historynof war occurred when, in the midst ofnthe war, American notables of the antiwarnmovement began pilgrimages to thenenemy’s capital, where they eagerlynvolunteered to serve the enemy’s propaganda.nThey saw themselves as apostlesnof compassion, fairness, impartiality, andnmany in this country saw them as such.nThey have not yet understood that theirnsmiling, polite Vietnamese hosts considerednthem consummate idiots, in thensame way that Stalin had contempt fornsuch beacons of the liberal conscience asnG.B. Shaw and Eleanor Roosevelt whilenthe Soviet press sang their praises. Thenonly Americans who were taken seriouslynand respected by the Vietnamese werenthe tortured prisoners who refused tongive in.nIn the years since the war, a culturalnterrorism has regulated American publicndiscourse of the conflict. One can writenand speak about Vietnam only in termsnof a preordained recognition that it wasna mindless, needless agony. It remains anpuzzle why America, a nation thatnowes its successes to common sense, opennreasoning, and audacious compromise,nallows this failure to be discussed only innterms of psychotic self-incrimination,nself-flagellation and self-destructiveness.nMr. Herr’s book adds new dimensions tonthe pathology of Vietnam literature. Hensees the war through the categories andncriteria of rock music. In one sense, it isnan apt metaphor. Just as the Vietnamnwar was virtually a non-war which ournmilitary forces were not permitted to trynto win, rock music borders on non-music,nespecially the acid rock of the late ’60s.nIf jazz was a prolific and meaningfulnproduct of American culture, rock begannas the bastardization of jazz’s musicalnsyndrome, and rapidly came to mirrornthe degeneration of the era in whichntrendiness passed for actual culturalnproduct. Barbarism and brutality ofnexpression were substituted for what jazznhad established as emotional or socialnsensitiveness. Rock is music that has beennreduced to physiology, just the waynrebellion in the ’60s degenerated intontwaddle. Mr. Herr appears, therefore, asna refugee from the ’60s in an age whichnpainfully strives for maturity. We believenthe truth about the Vietnam War hasnnot yet been distilled in his book. Andnwhen it finally is, it will still have plentynof trouble getting into print and onnthe screen.n”Quite simply. Dispatches is the bestnbook to have been written about thenAbinii, ihf Rockjord PapersnVietnam War—” the New York TimesnBook Review announced on its front pagenin a lead article. Perhaps. The reviewernthen proceeds to quote an excerpt to supportnhis claim. In it, Mr. Herr describesnreflections flashing through his mindnwhile coming under fire and finishesnwith: “… It was the feeling you’d hadnwhen you were much, much youngernand undressing a girl for the first time.”nThis, the N. Y. Times reviewer providesnwith a comment: “Vietnam required notnonly new techniques of warfare, but newntechniques in writing as well.” (Emphasisnadded) But is there anything “new” innthe quoted sentence? The metaphornwhich links the baptism of fire and lostnvirginity is as old as the literature ofnwarfare and it would be hard to findnsomeone in the post-Remarquian warnnovel industry who didn’t indulge in thatnconnotation. There are examples thatngo back as far as the Nibelungenlie’d andnChanson de Geste which intimate, in anpre-Freudian way, that battle and sexnsomehow connect in man’s soul. However,nan imposing number of the greatestnpoets and writers mankind has producednhave expressed quite a different view.nWhat this means is that Mr. Herrnbrings nothing new to what we alreadynknow, and that we are still waiting fornsomeone to tell us convincingly whethernwe were wrong or right in Vietnam, andnwhat was senseless and what wasnnot. (LT) DnThe Rockford Papers is a bi-monthly publication of the Kockford College hi.stitute. Itnchallenj^cs the mixture of idealism and prejudices which, under the name of liberalism, nownvirtuallydictaiesthcbeliefsandsympathiesof somany. ThejV(?w York ‘limesand WashingtonnPost, 1 lollywotxl millionaire radicalism and the Manhattan publishing industry all subscribento this ideology. ‘I’hns. our efforts to off.sct the radical snobberies and the moral malignancynof the jaded, super wealthy “social reformers’ may seem insignificant and even naive.nBut we firmly believe in the forces of well tested ideas and mature consideration. Thenhistory of the western world has confirmed repeatedly that intellectual choices rooted innmoral responsibility—even if long stifled by the pageants of cynical sophistry and impressiveninanities—will slowly but inevitably triumph,nKach issue of The Rockford Papers is devoted to the examination and clarification of ideas,nideological choices, social trends, value and-image-forming cultural movements. We arentrying to offer u.scful perspective for who believe as we do that our lives are determinednjjy the character of the culture. We recognize that the power of culture to shape ournexistence is now controlled by people who have little concern about what is salutary fornsociety and ultimately for themselves.n\i- !.•’:•!• ‘.w V .:i! i’l- hi’I Ml’ l.i ;:i’–i ‘.’ Ii,- v.’.-ii !.’ .••:.i;i;;c- r!ii •••-.•.:;.• ‘it .irt.i.r-.nnn27nChronicles of Culturen