Even after 33 years, the Communist Daily World (CDW) articles covering the activities of John Kerry and Vietnam Veterans Against the War in early 1971 remain shocking.
The Communist world understood clearly then what John Kerry even today tries to deny. The anti-war movement typified by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War was not simply a protest movement making a statement that the war in Vietnam was being wrongly waged in the sense that another military strategy might be more successful. No, the VVAW at its core was avowedly anti-American, willing to propagate lies about “war crimes” allegedly committed by American soldiers on a daily basis. The goal of the VVAW's highly publicized demonstrations in Washington, D.C. during April 1971 was to convey one simple message – the United States had lost its moral way in opposing North Vietnam and the Vietcong. As spokesman for the VVAW, John Kerry was happy to trumpet the exact theme the Communist world wanted broadcast.
How could Communists miss the propaganda value John Kerry offered? He was a decorated Navy officer, recently returned from Vietnam, a young man without the bearded appearance of a disgruntled outcast, an educated and articulate veteran, who was willing to associate his name with their revolutionary message. Navy Lieutenant John Kerry could not have been more perfect for the CDW if he had been recruited and trained by the KGB itself.
Today in 2004, running for President, John Kerry will be certain to object that the CDW was free to cover whomever the paper chose, that he, John Kerry, did not seek out the coverage or give interviews to the CDW. Yet the deeper reality is that anyone literate at the time, anyone deeply involved in the political and moral struggle that was Vietnam, could scarcely ignore the impact of the extensive coverage given the VVAW’s April 1971 protest in Washington and the newspaper’s constant positioning of John Kerry as their spokesman.
Here we have the CDW photo of John Kerry on the platform, assisting former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, an open supporter of North Vietnam and the Vietcong, as Clark addresses a group of VVAW members assembled before the Capitol. The next day, we see John Kerry’s photograph again on the CDW front page, now with his military fatigues disgraced by the inappropriate wearing of military ribbons, sitting in a studied pensive pose, right index finger pecking his cheek as if to enhance the serious purpose of his appearance before the Fulbright Committee.
At every utterance quoted in the pages of the CDW, John Kerry’s message is exactly what Communists wanted broadcast worldwide to undermine the American cause in Vietnam. In responding to questions from the Senate Committee, Kerry grossly exaggerates atrocities. He advocates the acceptance of Communist-advocated U.S. surrenders, such as the Vietcong proposal that America could gain the return of POWs only if the U.S. Government would set a date for full and complete military withdrawal from Vietnam. He proclaims that the war was a mistake.
Then in June 1971, we see another CDW-published photo of John Kerry, this time lending his support to Jesse Jackson and his then-current cause, Operation Breadbasket. Again, Kerry is pictured in coat and tie, still the mop of hair at regulation protest length, the shaven face clearly bearing no beard, the message again on theme: America is engaged in an unjust war in Vietnam, a war punctuated by American atrocities. To make sure no one misses the point, Kerry announces he is planning a three-week trip to Vietnam to see what is “really happening,” suggesting none too subtly that anyone who would still argue for the rightness of remaining in Vietnam must surely be a liar.
These old newspaper clips are archived here to memorialize a story that must be revisited as John Kerry seeks to hold the nation’s highest office. John Kerry crossed an important line in 1971. We see no letter from John Kerry to the CDW objecting to the way the newspaper seeks to exploit his activities. To this day, John Kerry does not express regret that CDW found in him the perfect “poster boy” to carry their word. Plastering John Kerry on its front pages made sense to the Communists thirty years ago as they sought to communicate around the world, even to American POWs held in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” that young Americans had turned against their country and were openly embracing the Communist message.
John Kerry thrust himself upon the world stage in 1971, proclaiming for all to see that the Communists were right in maintaining that American values were corrupt and that the only solution was for America to capitulate so Communism could continue to spread. John Kerry in 2004 will certainly try to maintain that his purpose in 1971 was otherwise. But let him do so in the face of this, the published record.
Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D.
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