The following was written originally as a response to internal disputes on a Vietnam Veterans Only site.
We have seen several disputes over our persistent use of slang in reference to the Vietnamese people and references to the enemy dead. This has even led to the loss of some members.
Personally, I consider such an argument between two Vietnam Veterans pretty out of bounds. Every war in history involved an effort to dehumanize and objectify the enemy. This is especially true of Christian nations such as America. We were all to one degree or another raised with a respect for individual life.
To kill, especially due to hate, was strictly taboo. How else and you get a bunch of well-trained young men to not only kill other humans but to kill them in huge numbers? Further it is not only necessary to dehumanize the enemy in order to kill them but the warriors must be able to live with themselves once the conflict is over.
The soft fluttering of an incoming mortar, the angry zip of a round overhead, an unusual sound amongst the myriad of sounds of an Asian jungle; all these and numberless others are imprinted upon our very soul. Reinforced time after time, they become the means to remain alive. Those who learned these lessons had the best chance of going “home”.
Just as important to holding onto out mind and soul were those self-same dehumanizing terms we used. We did not hunt and kill young Vietnamese men and women and their children. We hunted and killed gooks, monkeys, rats and the endless array of inhuman names we gave them. When they were dead they were not honored as human bodies they became greased, popped, capped, ripped, blown away, gut & slung (actually done due to bloating), tits-up, tits-down, caca dau, lit-up, exterminated, or crispy critters. These terms were so burned into our psyche that they last for a lifetime.
Those who deny these means of preserving life & limb, mind and soul, and our ability to literally live with ourself, are denying the reality of war. If you survived these inhuman times and have stumbled upon a better means of dealing with your past, then congratulations. Do not condemn or belittle those who must cope with the only tools available. Arrogance is not a desirable trait amongst brothers!
Those who have never been faced with the horrors of war have no standing to judge and in condemnation those who have, should be ignored as they are like clueless children.