Friday, January 06, 2006

Hugh Thompson, Hero of My Lai, Died Today

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Hugh Thompson, the brave helicopter pilot who witnessed the My Lai massacre and intervened, nearly losing his life, died today, may the Angels of Mercy and Pity guide his way! His best friend who was with him when he decided to do the right thing in 1968, was at his bedside.

From the BBC:
Hugh Thompson Jnr, a former US military helicopter pilot who helped stop one of the most infamous massacres of the Vietnam War has died, aged 62.
Mr Thompson and his crew came upon US troops killing civilians at the village of My Lai on 16 March 1968.

He put his helicopter down between the soldiers and villagers, ordering his men to shoot their fellow Americans if they attacked the civilians.

"There was no way I could turn my back on them," he later said of the victims.
Forget Rambo and his ilk. The Vietnam War Memorial should be this man, standing in the way of the firing squad, daring them to shoot him or stop. The sign of true bravery is to stand up for humanity and not let crimes happen. All battlefields easily devolve into criminal enterprises. Since the dawn of humanity, we have struggled with this, the glory of victory carries the taint of murder. So strongly, universally, all "primative" tribes have to do cleansing ceremonies to appease possible outraged ghosts of the dead.

The roots of many religions grew out of such dark soil.

I should add here that the incredible and great Seymour Hirsch was the reporter who broke this story and it was the first time he made the front pages and his career ever since has been equally heroic and brave, I read him in the New Yorker which is his main base now, he carries the torch of human dignity and mercy, he looms big even today, breaking stories about torture and destruction. He is who made the My Lai story so important and brought it forwards, refusing to back down and cover it up like embedded reporters do today.

As we fought the peasants in Vietnam, our rage grew ever greater until we were acting like Nazis. Whenever someone occupies a land filled with peasants who don't want one there, it falls apart and becomes just like the Nazis in Eastern Europe. This is why one has to understand what the peasants are really thinking. And to do that, you have to be unarmed. My own parents have roamed the entire planet, unarmed, and talked to countless people. They knew that the way to honest conversations was to come as a friend, not armed to the teeth, filled with delusions of grandeur and hubristic certainties.

I remember very vividly going into very poor villages in the countryside, people literally starving to death and my parents bringing hope and help and seeking, of course, information.

Kennedy, before his murder (oh, the same sorts that enabled 9/11 to succeed did the same in that case!), decided this was all a grand idea. To go to the villages just like my mom and dad did all over Asia and the Americas, and to be a friend and open handed and to understand those milling billions of peasants!

The helicopter pilot who stopped a grave crime was punished for this. He was called names by the ruling elites and the military considered him a traitor for revealing the ugly truth about their murderous rampages. He was shot down five times! It took 30 years for the military elites to award him for his bravery and dedication. Getting the award was like pulling teeth!

I want to thank Hugh for everything he suffered for us all. He literally sacrificed his future so that we can sleep at night and not be tormented with guilt except we are at it again, just this week, bombing an innocent family to death using a robot drone. The future robot wars will be merciless. There was no helicopter pilot around trying to stop the massacre of civilians in Fallujah nor this week in Baiji, Iraq.

This is why we have to be very careful, starting wars. Always, innocent people are brutally killed. And soldiers turn into criminals. The natural sense of goodness is hard to keep going on a battlefield which is why I am particularily angry about all those cowards like Bush and Cheney deliberately starting a war for specious reasons.

Arrest them all and send them to the Hague!

And Hugh Thompson: May you rest in peace, thank you for everything.
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