The Counterpoint: Hyman and the Lies

The Counterpoint: Hyman & the Lies
by Iowa’s Ted Remington

The rational counter to “The Point,” “The Counterpoint” critiques and corrects the daily editorial by Sinclair Broadcasting’s corporate vice president, Mark Hyman, that is broadcast on all Sinclair-owned television stations across the country.

What do Robert Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Benjamin Spock, and Walter Cronkite have in common?

They all, at various times and in various ways, expressed their conviction that the war in Vietnam was unwinnable, a mistake, and that a peaceful solution should be sought. They all made these statements during the 1960s. They are all among the most revered names in recent American history as well.

To hear Mark Hyman tell it, however, John Kerry single-handedly created and led the anti-war movement when he came back from Vietnam in 1971. The most recent “Point” accuses Kerry of aiding the enemy through speaking out against the war, suggesting (again with no evidence, despite the several links to nearly random Vietnam-era press clippings on the Newscentral website) that somehow Kerry’s anti-war activities slowed down the release of
prisoners and prompted increased military activity on the part of the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong.

For Hyman, as it was for Richard Nixon and his Watergate crony Charles Colson who targeted Kerry for political destruction in 1971, any questioning of administration policy is tantamount to treason. Apparently, the soldiers who came back from Vietnam and felt to the depths of their souls that the war was not right and that the U.S. was pursuing a mistaken policy should have kept their big mouths shut. So much for freedom of speech and the public discussion of issues in a democracy.

(We’re just wondering Mark: do you have the guts to call today’s soldiers traitors as well? Check out “Operation Truth” for firsthand accounts by soldiers in the field of the failures of our current policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

Hyman doesn’t acknowledge that the antiwar movement had been a force in American politics since 1965, or that half of the American people felt the war was a mistake by 1971. He doesn’t acknowledge that even those who supported the war at first, including one of its architects, Robert McNamara, now say that Kerry and others in the antiwar movement were right: the Vietnam War was a quagmire. Would we have “won” in Vietnam if antiwar voices had kept silent? Of course not; the conflict would simply have dragged on even
longer with more and more loss of life. But that doesn’t stop Hyman from using charges of communist sympathy to tar a current political adversary. For folks like Hyman, history is not something to be understood or learned from; it’s simply a collection of raw material that can be twisted into a weapon for today’s battles.

Not that this attitude should surprise us. Part of the reason the Vietnam War has become such a central issue (beyond whatever tactical advantages might be gained in the daily give and take of campaigning) is that the “war on terror” has become the new Cold War for conservatives. Having spent eight years in the wilderness after the fall of the Soviet Union, conservatives are all too aware that their most powerful weapon is fear. Now that communism is gone as a present threat, terrorism is taking its place, and with it, the neo-con remedy: a sort of reverse domino effect in which the U.S. attempts to create democracy at the end of a gun, at which point it will supposedly flourish and spread of its own accord.

So once again we have a war in which U.S. soldiers are caught in an impossible situation on the ground, in which enemy combatants and innocent civilians are indistinguishable, and for which there is no coherent exit strategy beyond escalation. Once again we have a war that we’ve chosen to fight and which was pitched to the American people on false pretexts. And once again, those who support the war and the administration waging it accuse any who dare criticize them of treason.

Thus we have Hyman’s rant about Kerry’s antiwar activities morph into an attack on Kerry’s supposed weakness on defense, including the canard that Kerry voted against all sorts of weapon systems.

It doesn’t matter that folks like George H.W. Bush and Dick Cheney supported eliminating these same weapons systems or that it was the current administration that knowingly sent U.S. troops to Iraq without enough body armor or armored humvees. Hyman knows these charges have been refuted, but as long as these untruths help him create a myth about Kerry that combines Vietnam and the current campaign, he’s happy to ignore all evidence to the contrary.

In this case, Hyman’s juxtaposition is not meaningless; it’s part of a larger parallel between the Vietnam era and today, one that involves the creation of military and political enemies in order to maintain power. However, it’s every bit as bogus. Just as the notable names we mentioned earlier were speaking with a sense of moral imperative, not a lack of love for country, so was John Kerry in 1971 and so is John Kerry in 2004. So are all the voices that question the wisdom of sending thousands of men and women to fight and die in a conflict that has nothing to do with stopping terrorism or making America safer. But because they can’t defend their position rationally, Hyman and his ilk rely on distortions and jingoism to berate their opponents.

In fact, “distortions” doesn’t accurately reflect what Hyman does here and in so many of his pieces.

He’s a liar.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

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