Letters to the Editor for Dec 09, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Peace of Freedom
Kudos on your cover story on peace activist Phil Butler. (“Phillip Butler fought his way through a violent childhood and captivity at the hands of the North Vietnamese,” Dec. 2-8). I was moved by the story of his early life and his life in the Hanoi hellhole. One important correction, though, in an otherwise excellent report: The speaker at the Nov. 13 peace rally who called on the people on the other side to join us was not Bill Monning. It was me. I’m co-chair of the Monterey County Libertarians for Peace, which is one of the member organizations in the Peace Coalition of Monterey County.
The reason I called on the counter-protestors to join us is that I regarded almost the issues advertised on their posters as legitimate. They want the government to quit interfering with farmers, churches, and fishermen, and one of them chanted, “End Obama’s War.” I see no contradiction between wanting the U.S. government not to interfere in the lives of people in other countries and wanting the government not to interfere in our lives. And, unfortunately, given the hopes many of us had for President Obama, it is, indeed, Obama’s war.David R. Henderson | Pacific Grove
Phil Butler’s life journey brings to mind two other celebrated Vietnam War vets, Claude Anshin Thomas and Ron Kovic. Claude Anshin Thomas is the author of the book At Hell’s Gate, his personal journey from an abusive childhood with a raging alcoholic father, to brutal soldier in the Vietnam War, to a post-war alcoholic/drug abuser, and finally to a Buddhist monk who travels the world now for peace. Claude’s book is a must-read for anyone who appreciates personal transformation and internal redemption.
Ron Kovic is one of the most famous Vietnam War vets because of his best-selling 1974 book titled Born on the Fourth of July, and the movie made from the book almost 20 years later by the same title and starring Tom Cruise in what I feel is the actor’s finest and most meaningful role. For a short time in the early 1970s Ron and I were friends and I once pushed him in his wheelchair at an anti-war rally in L.A. in 1972, but his subsequent fame following his book and the movie has made it impossible to find him now. But for the brief time I knew Ron, it was inspirational.
I intend to get Phil Butler’s book and I also strongly recommend that all young people in and out of the military services avail themselves of Thomas’ and Kovics’s books. I have a 20-year-old son in the Army who is being deployed to Iraq and then to Afghanistan right after the first of 2011, so I have a serious personal vested interest in the insanity of war and errant foreign policies. I’ve tried to get my Army son to read the two books I recommend above, but he’s locked into that gung-ho, pre-war warrior macho. I’m not naive, I know that a warrior-to-be must stay in that frame of mind for his own safety and the safety of his combat buddies, but I’m his dad and I love him and I want no harm to befall him physically, emotionally and psychologically. War not only damages the body, it ravages the soul.Jeffrey Van Middlebrook | Pacific Grove
BUTLER SPEAKSI can’t thank you enough for your excellent article about me in this week’s Weekly. Please know I have been getting many compliments on your well-written article. Thanks too for your sensitivity and patience during the interview process.
In peace and justice.Phil Butler | Monterey