These victims died at the hands of soldiers from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade, Americal Division — one of whose platoons the diminutive Calley led to little acclaim. Widely regarded as incompetent, peers and subordinates often noted that he was incapable of reading maps or using a compass. His own company commander routinely addressed him as “Lieutenant Shithead.”
In September 1969, Lieutenant Shithead was charged with the deaths of 109 “Oriental human beings” — a figure that represents no more than a quarter of those who actually died at My Lai.
The atrocities at My Lai occurred less than two months after the beginning of the Tet Offensive. US forces were carrying out the policy of “search and destroy” throughout Quang Ngai province, where such operations killed over 50,000 civilians and destroyed roughly two-thirds of the provincial villages in 1967-1968. When Charlie Company was instructed to move against four hamlets that constituted the village of My Lai, they expected to find remnants of the 48th NLF Battalion; encountering nothing of the sort, the company destroyed the village and nearly everyone in it. After more than a year of official silence, the story of My Lai surfaced in November 1969 thanks to the investigative journalism of Seymour Hersh and several courageous letters written to Nixon administration officials and Congressional leaders by soldiers who had witnessed war crimes in Vietnam and had heard about the events of March 1968. Lt. Calley was formally charged on 5 September 1969.
At Calley’s trial, Private Dennis Conti testified for the prosecution:
Lieutenant Calley came out and said, “Take care of these people.” So we said, okay, so we stood there and watched them. He went away, then he came back and said, “I thought I told you to take care of these people.” We said, “We are.” He said, “I mean, kill them.” I was a little stunned and I didn’t know what to do. He said, “Come around this side. We’ll get on line and we’ll fire into them.” I said, “No, I’ve got a grenade launcher. I’ll watch the tree line.” I stood behind them and they stood side by side. So they — Calley and Meadlo — got on line and fired directly into the people. There were bursts and single shots for two minutes. It was automatic. The people screamed and yelled and fell. I guess they tried to get up, too. They couldn”t. That was it. They people were pretty well messed up. Lots of heads was shot off, pieces of heads and pieces of flesh flew off the sides and arms. They were all messed up. Meadlo fired a little bit and broke down. He was crying. He said he couldn’t do any more. He couldn’t kill anymore people. He couldn’t fire into the people any more. He gave me his weapon into my hands. I said I wouldn’t. “If they’re going to be killed, I’m not going to do it. Let Lieutenant Calley do it,” I told him. So I gave Meadlo back his weapon. At that time there was only a few kids still alive Lieutenant Calley killed them one-by-one. Then I saw a group of five women and six kids — eleven in all — going to a tree line. “Get ‘em! Get ‘em! Kill ‘em!” Calley told me. I waited until they got to the line and fired off four or five grenades. I don’t know what happened….
Calley’s use of the Nuremberg defense — that he was merely following orders — did not withstand the scrutiny of the jury. On April Fool’s Day 1971, two days after Calley was convicted and one day after being sentenced to life in prison for murdering 19 people, President Nixon ordered him transferred to house arrest, partly in response to the outpouring of public support for the now-convicted mass murderer. Calley became a celebrity for true-believers on the American right; even George Wallace paid him a personal visit during his house arrest.
After three years of living in his Ft. Benning apartment, Calley was paroled in September 1974. He continued to describe the events at My Lai as a “battle,” although not one round of enemy fire was taken that day.
In the spring of 1972 South Vietnamese forces — claiming to be rooting out NLF “terrorists” — destoyed the hamlet to which most of the survivors of My Lai had been relocated.
UPDATE: In fairness, he’s probably just riveted by the sociological significance of it all…
…more on the merits here.
Jon Gitlin recently visited the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky:
There were posters explaining just how coal could be formed in a few weeks as opposed to over millions of years, and how rapidly the biblical flood would cover the earth, drowning all but a handful of living creatures. The flood plays a big part in the museum’s attempt to explain away what we see as millions of years of natural processes. There was also an explanation as to why, with only one progenitor family, it wasn’t considered incest for Adam and Eve’s children to marry each other. Apparently there was less sin back then, and therefore fewer mutations in their DNA. Evidently sin, and not two copies of the same recessive trait, gives rise to congenital birth defects.
As you walk through the museum, the contorted reasoning to explain the formation of the Grand Canyon in hours or the rapid creation of thousands of breeds of dogs in a matter of weeks is augmented by what can only be described as a house of horrors about the dangers of abortion and drugs and the devil’s music. A wall is covered in articles from newspapers and magazines, showing what happens when society lives without the Museum’s brand of fundamentalist Christianity as its guiding light. Stem cell research, abortion, and homosexuality are center stage. Their representation of the modern world consists of a a seedy-looking alley, replete with rats, trash, and a church being demolished. It might have worked better if they’d set it to Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones, but I’m not sure Mick and boys would have gone for that.
Read the whole thing. Cross-posted to TAPPED.
In addition to basic ignorance of basic facts about Iraq, in the most recent debate Mitt Romney defended his flip-flop on don’t ask don’t tell, arguing that “It’s been the policy now in the military for what, 10, 15 years, and it seems to be working. And I agree with what Mayor Giuliani said: that this is not the time to put in place a major change, a social experiment, in the middle of a war going on.” What does he mean by “working?” Apparently, firing an extremely scarce Arabic translator because he’s gay, even though he didn’t publicly tell about his sexuality. So, if you think that if an effective policy is one that prioritizes bigotry over national security, I would urge you to vote Republican in ’08.
Is, according to Fouad Ajami, Scooter Libby. Even for the WSJ editorial page, this is something. Fortunately, if this war has taught us anything, it’s to not take Ajami seriously; this just draws a line under it. As AL says, “Libby isn’t a fallen soldier. He’s a convicted felon. There’s an enormous difference.”
Like Whitney Houston, I also believe the children are our future, if by "future" you mean "templates for our bovine, warmongering fantasy lives"
Our Lady of Manzanar joins Neo-Neocon in wondering where our child-rearing strayed from its obligation to raise capable citizen-soldiers. Like Neo-Neocon, Malkin seems to think we’re raising a generation of pacifist, Ferdinand the Bull-reading milk-sops. Behold:
I have a pet peeve. It goes beyond the antiwar indoctrination rampant in American schools. At the playground and at the mall, I see 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds walking around with pacifiers in their mouths. Kids old enough to feed and dress themselves. Kids old enough to figure out the remote control and cell phone. Standing upright, suckling on brightly colored binkies.
Where are the parents to yank the rubber from their mouths and force them to grow up? When did child pacification usurp the responsibility of child-rearing?
. . . I return to the video of the Hamas kindergarten class. Their “emotional barometers” break through the roof as one toddler with plenty of self-esteem leads the rest in a bloodthirsty call and refrain:
“What is your path? Jihad!”
“What is your path? Jihad!”
. . . Pardon me while I go fill my worry box. It’s a small world, after all.
As Malkin encroaches into Bobo-land here, citing noxious middle-class parenting trends that, like, maybe don’t actually exist, I’d really be interested to know how many seven-year-olds she’s seen with a Nuk dangling from their mouths. Because I’m guessing that number is somewhere in the neighborhood of zero to one.
Still, I don’t think Michelle should worry. With a little work, I’m sure we can raise fine children — strong, decent Christian children, perhaps like
Isaac Malachi here:
But other data show that Judge Southwick’s answer fits with his larger record. He has a pattern of voting against workers and the injured and in favor of corporations. According to the advocacy group Alliance for Justice, Southwick voted “against the injured party and in favor of business interests” in 160 of 180 cases that gave rise to a dissent and that involved employment law and injury-based suits for damages. When one judge on a panel dissents in a case, there’s an argument it could come out either way, which makes these cases a good measure of how a judge thinks when he’s got some legal leeway. In such cases, Judge Southwick almost never favors the rights of workers or people who’ve suffered discrimination or been harmed by a shoddy product.
You know how many more of these kinds of judges 5CA needs? None. What’s the argument against voting against him? “Apparently that if the Republicans get Southwick, they’ll remember when the next Democratic president asks their support for his judicial nominees.” Yeah, that sounds like a great deal. If you’re the kind of person who would lend the keys to your new Porsche to a stranger on parole for Grand Theft Auto.
In addition to this, kudos to Leahy and company for passing on a bill to restore habeas corpus rights. Yes to habeas corpus, no (or at least not yet) to Southern-fried Robert Borks; I believe this is “elections have consequences” in a good sense.
Jim Clark, the thug who oversaw the racist gulag of Selma for more than a decade, went toe-up yesterday in an Alabama nursing home. Clark was best remembered for the nationally-televised police riot that took place in early March 1965, when civil rights activists attempted to march from Selma to the capital in Montgomery in support of federal voting rights legislation. As the marchers crossed the Edmund Pettis Bridge on their way out of town, Clark’s Dallas County sheriffs joined a phalanx of state troopers who clubbed and gassed everyone who wasn’t wearing a badge. Clark would later insist that no one had actually beaten the activists; instead, he claimed, they had all fallen down simultaneously.
Though Clark could often be seen wearing a button that boasted “Never” — a word that neatly summarized his views on black voting rights — he was thrown from office the following year, when newly-registered black voters bade him farewell from public life.
A man who represented a less evolved era of white supremacy, Jim Clark’s spirit endures nevertheless.
. . . in comments, nolo reminds us that Clark later served time for scheming to import and sell dope from his mobile home . . .
This is Rob’s department, but since he’s away I’ll note that the idea that Stephen Walt had an undistinguished academic career prior to his LRB article (which I happen to think is not his finest hour) is crazy. He’s a major international relations scholar; I have only a couple of seminars in the field and I’m very familiar with his work. Certainly, I have to agree with Matt that his career strikes me as one of considerably greater distinction than, say, using your wife’s money to purchase a magazine and running it in a way that substantially reduces its quality while hemorrhaging circulation.
…Rob weighs in.