Debunking Liberal Myths about the Vietnam War (part one)

(This is the first of my multi-part series for Examiner.com, debunking liberal media myths about the Vietnam War.)

It’s one of the most famous images of the 20th century.

Eddie Adams’ Pulitzer Prize winning 1968 photograph of an execution on a Vietnam street has been reprinted and reenacted countless times.

In the film Stardust Memories, Woody Allen’s depressed character decorates his kitchen with a colossal mural of the image, to illustrate his angst.

A post-modern artist recreated the iconic image in Lego.

However, few know the true story behind the photograph, which some cultural critics claim, then and now, “helped America lose the war.”

While lecturing on college campuses to promote his book Stalking the Vietnam Myth, author H. Bruce Franklin discovered that most students “were convinced the original photo depicted a North Vietnamese or communist officer executing a South Vietnamese civilian prisoner.”

However, the executioner was the chief of the South Vietnamese Police — an American ally. The victim was a captured Vietcong insurgent whose comrades in arms had themselves been summarily executing anyone associated with the South Vietnamese and the Americans.

After killing the captured prisoner, the police chief told journalists, “Many Americans have been killed these last few days and many of my best Vietnamese friends. Now do you understand? Buddha will understand.”

The photograph helped make Eddie Adams famous, but he wished he’d never taken it. Due to its notoriety, the photo ruined the police chief’s life, turning him into an internationally hated (and misunderstood) villain for all time.

Adams never forgave himself.

As Eddie Adams once wrote in Time magazine,

“The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn’t say was, ‘What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American soldiers?'”

(Kathy Shaidle blogs at FiveFeetOfFury. Her new book about government-enforced political correctness, The Tyranny of Nice, features an introduction by Mark Steyn.)

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