Mark Baldwin, Surry
I didn’t go to Vietnam. I spent the war eating tear gas on the streets. I was near a lot police brutality but, with one exception, I was never roughed myself. Strangely, one of the things I came out with was an appreciation for the passion of anti-abortion “right to life” people, whom I also opposed.
Every day, for year after year of the war, we lived with the fact that on that day, that minute, our government was ripping people apart in Vietnam – their bodies, their way of life, and for what? It was to enrich corrupt Vietnamese thugs because they said they were “anti-communist,” and it was to justify the crap that our own best and brightest were feeding us.
We chanted, “Hey Hey LBJ, how many babies did you kill today?” I had babies. The words were ripping.
What has this got to do with abortion? I was, and always have been, fiercely supportive of a woman’s right to choose, but we were desperate to stop the killing and I began to see how desperate at least some of the anti-abortion people must feel. At least some of them must feel, just as I did, that there is not a minute to lose. Every day I woke up with that.
he war didn’t change my mind about the question of choice or no-choice, but it did give me a feeling for the urgency of people on the no-choice side. Some of them may be thoughtless and knee-jerk, but so were some of us. That doesn’t matter because for us who opposed the war and those who opposed abortion there isn’t a moment to lose.
This statement is only about how the war helped me appreciate the passion of anti-choice people. Some American soldiers in Vietnam said the same thing about the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. I have no parallel appreciation for JFK’s and LBJ’s and Nixon’s best and brightest, whose cold arrogant ivory-tower brutality would have been comfortable in any of history’s most savage regimes. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick bend reality by calling them “well-meaning.”