“In this war-torn world, what is desperately needed – but what Burns and Novick fail to convey – is an honest rendering of that war to help the American people avoid yet more catastrophic wars.”
By Common Dreams May 31, 2018
A national veterans’ organization is weighing in on this year’s Emmy awards with a full-page ad in Variety, saying Ken Burns and Lynne Novick’s “Vietnam War” series does not deserve a “Best Documentary” award.
Veterans For Peace (VFP), headquartered in St. Louis, with 175 chapters in the U.S. and six overseas, will run the Variety ad prior to the awards on September 17, to generate discussion about the series and the lasting impact it will have if “crowned with an Emmy.”
The ad says that because “The Emmy Award is a powerful recognition of truth in art,” Emmy judges are asked to consider whether, “In this war-torn world, what is desperately needed – but what Burns and Novick fail to convey – is an honest rendering of that war to help the American people avoid yet more catastrophic wars.”
The ad [see the link below for a readable copy] identifies what it considers the fundamental flaw of the PBS series: Burns and Novick “assert at the beginning that the war ‘was begun in good faith by decent people, out of fateful misunderstandings.’” Questioned about this in a New York Times interview, Burns admitted that might have been “too generous to our leaders,” but he stuck by it.
VFP’s ad quickly responds to that “generous” remark, saying, “Even a cursory reading of the Pentagon Papers disclosed by Daniel Ellsberg,” (inexplicably missing from this history) “demonstrates the falseness of this claim of American innocence.” The painful truth, according to the ad, is that the United States “rained incredible violence on the Vietnamese people merely to replace France as the dominant power in Southeast Asia.”
Another shortcoming in last fall’s series was it paid far too little attention to the millions of civilian deaths the U.S. caused in Southeast Asia, skips over the millions of people still suffering from the effects of Agent Orange and ignores some 700,000 tons of unexploded ordnance still lurking in the fields of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, still killing and injuring today.