By Gustavo Arellano
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Re: Nick Schou's "Phantom Menace" (Cover Story, July 9):
I enjoyed reading Nick Schou's excellent article on the MIA-POW myth. One thing he overlooked is that there are only 50 GIs who are truly missing in action, rather than the 2,000 who were clearly killed and their bodies never recovered. Almost all of the 2,000 MIA-POWs were last heard of or seen going down in a fireball in the South China Sea, crashing into the side of a mountain, hard landing in the jungle canopy, sitting against a tree with a sucking chest wound while their unit retreated, turning into a wet mist when they got in the way of a B20 rocket, [getting blasted by] a short artillery round, or tripping on an anti-vehicle mine.—Tom Baxter, served in Vietnam 1967-1969, Veterans for Peace, Tallahassee, Florida
You guys are a stitch! In the same edition in which you decry the MIA-POW lobby and politicos who represent their positions, picking on the poor Vietnamese over bygones, you wax wroth and horrified over another issue that's also related to the Southeast Asia War—but even longer ago.
While your cover type "El Toro Base Spies Saved Us From Vietniks" was accurately in the past tense, the contents page line promised much more: "Spying on civilians was part of the El Toro Marines' mission." Since the last Marines left El Toro on July 2, the time frame that line refers to could have been much closer to now than the 33 years ago actually referenced in Daniel C. Tsang's "The Few, the Proud, the Spies" (The County, July 9).
And what a banality that piece is! Marine counterintelligence personnel actually followed protesters from one public place to another and documented their presence with photographs. If we cut away all the "Ain't It Awful (and Weren't We Cool)" rhetoric in the article, the writer failed to identify one breach of individual rights committed by the counterintelligence unit. The article also failed to state whether that unit was located on the El Toro base after 1969!
But I guess bygones aren't bygones when there is yet another opportunity to cast anti-war protesters as heroic victims. Far better to continue that theme than to recognize any of the complexities that operated in the Southeast Asia War. The North Vietnamese played off the Russians against the Chinese and obtained billions of rubles and yuan to maintain their 13-year war upon the peoples of South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Somehow, though, the American effort to contest the issue was illegitimate. I guess sappers throwing satchel charges trump fighter-bombers in the peculiar moral calculus of protesters.
Next time your right hand taps out the message that bygones should be bygones, don't let your left hand contradict it.—Charles H. Brown II, Esq., via e-mail Some drunk in the mailroom responds:Where to begin with someone whose powers of reasoning are worse than my own momentarily dulled faculties? How about with your assertion that "the article . . . failed to state whether [the counterintelligence] unit was located on the El Toro base after 1969." In fact, author Daniel C. Tsang states quite clearly (paragraph six, line six), "By the 1990s, declassified Marine Corps documents released by the Federation of American Scientists show, the El Toro counterintelligence team was one of only three teams nationwide." Like you—may we call you Chuck?—we found the El Toro group's inept spying pretty funny in a Peter Sellars kind of way; unlike you, we still find it sobering to discover that the American government spies on citizens engaged in peaceful protest. In the end, Chuck, I'm just a drunk. But you are illogical—a real nut and not a very good reader. In the morning, I at least will be sober.BOARD GAMES
Thanks for Matt Coker's update on the hijinks at South Orange County Community College District (A Clockwork Orange, July 9) and professor Roy Bauer's considerable political and legal successes in battling the folks who, while we're at it, changed—in one of their first bizarre administrative moves—the name of our district from the innocent Saddleback Community College District to the unwieldy SOCCCD. What they now possess in extra initials, illegal meetings, lawyers' bills and homophobic Christian Coalition allies, they clearly lack in ethics or recognition of shared governance.
The truly remarkable characteristic of our colleague Bauer is his tenacity in the face of actions by trustees attempting to turn our formerly esteemed community-needs-oriented district into a model of Reagan-esque corporatization, trickle-down management and, soon, insidious "virtual education" (read: classes on TV).—Andrew Tonkovich, instructor, Irvine Valley College A THUMBS-DOWN
How did you manage to find the only five pinheads in the United States who didn't like the film South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (Film, July 9)? The first reviewer, Steve Lowery, reviewed the previews instead of the film (that should have been my first clue that I was about to be treated to a steady stream of morons). The second, Anthony Pignataro, mentioned that he was disappointed there weren't enough cartoon characters flying through the air and crashing into "stuff." Sorry, Anthony, if you and your Jim Carrey-loving buds had stopped smoking that dube long enough, you might have noticed that South Park was a brilliant satire on our society's irrational belief that profanity and sexual content in entertainment are to blame for all of our problems with children. CJ Bahnsen (c'mon, what does CJ stand for? You're not a TV star like TJ Hooker. Give us your first name) complained about the singing and the "Broadway-esque" tunes. That was the point, fool! From the profanity-laced lyrics to the Busby Berkeley dance routines, the songs were meant to mock all those family-friendly musicals. I share Bahnsen's frustration at not seeing more of Chef, but what we did see was 100-percent-prime rib-tickling funny, particularly the scene with the black American soldiers forced to be "Operation Human Shield" for the white American soldiers. Your two final reviewers, Molly MockClure (almost funny) and Tim Meltreger, have some personal issues to work out in therapy. Their oppressed, rigid, Catholic-myth-indoctrinated upbringings would be better-served on the couch of some $150-per-hour specialist in sexual repression/laser surgery than in the pages of the OC Weekly.—Richard Meese, Long Beach The editors respond: The American Heritage College Dictionary. Page 761. See the entry for "lampoon." Read it, absorb it, understand it, and then get back to us. PEACE OUT