Returning vets weren't abused

A news report recounts the experiences of a member of the 561st Air Force Band, including an account of being pelted with water balloons after the end of the Vietnam War at a Fourth of July parade in Danville.

I can't contradict her recollections, but I would like to correct the widely accepted view that returning veterans were typically abused, insulted and spat upon.

According to Jerry Lembcke, a Vietnam veteran who wrote "The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory and the Legacy of Vietnam," this is a widely accepted urban myth, fostered by the movie character Rambo and repeated by politicians from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama.

No photographs and scant contemporaneous evidence exists to document any abuse. There are books containing many personal accounts refuting Lembcke. But if newspapers are the "first draft of history," evidence is lacking to support the idea that vets were widely abused by antiwar protesters.

Jim Beller

Albany

Different people, different views

Thomas Sowell is a great example of what's wrong with American political discourse.

In a recent column, he waxes nostalgic about Ronald Reagan, fits in some "facts" about how Democrats are liars, and offers an insult to anyone agreeing with anything President Barack Obama says as being "uninformed" and too stupid to know better.

In grade school, I learned how to distinguish when somebody was intentionally fibbing and when they were wrong because they had their facts mixed up. A later lesson was that different people can believe different things, and a legitimate difference of opinion about "facts" was best addressed respectfully.

If writers such as Sowell would take 25 percent of their time to criticize their own party, things might be better. It's stupid to suppose one party is always wrong and the other always right.

We the people (in the middle) are poorly served by myopic legislators, writers and propaganda pundits of both parties who choose to avoid self-criticism but remain cynically and profitably intent on trashing all opposing points of view.

As a moderate independent, I'm tired of it, so I don't enjoy Sowell much.

John Weaver

Lafayette

Republicans again have a vital choice

Four years ago, Republicans lost the national election to our first African-American to become president. They had a choice: develop new policies reflecting the changing demographics and values or fight the changes. They chose the latter.

They strengthened their alliance with powerful special interest, double-downed on the economic policies that contributed to our financial problems, and demonized the people of the new demographics.

Once again, they lost the national election. Once again, they have a choice.

Democracy hopes they chose wisely.

Tangee Miles

Martinez

Arab rejectionism at heart of issue

A Dec. 4 letter writer must have missed the news since 1947 about the repeated Israeli attempts to create a Palestinian state, all of which have been rejected by the Arab side. Only one such attempt, the Saudi Peace Plan was ever made by the Arabs.

But given the turmoil in the Arab world, especially lately, it is even more clear now than it was then that there is no reliable Arab guarantor of such a plan, and Israel was both wise and lucky to not accept it.

Therefore, the suggestion that Israel "didn't want Palestine to obtain even a modicum of statehood" doesn't hold water.

Arab rejectionism toward Israel has become so entrenched and so violent that any discussion of a peace process in the Middle East has become a cruel joke.

The Arabs can't make peace with each other, so it is obvious they are not ready to make peace with a democratic nation like Israel, which they should be emulating instead of trying to make it go away.

Desmond Tuck

San Mateo

Not OK to mock people's religion

After reading Karen D'Souza's front-page article in the Nov. 20 Times, one can only wonder if Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of the award-winning musical, "The Book of Mormon," might want to take on a more challenging project with the same theme.

Maybe as D'Souza described it a "blasphemous lampoon of religion with a song in its heart and potty in its mouth" -- only call it "The Book of Islam."

No? Why not? Doesn't everyone like to see their religion mocked and made light of?

Floyd R. Colton

Pleasant Hill