Home | About | Donate

Have We Learned Anything From My Lai?

Have We Learned Anything From My Lai?

Barbara Myers

My Lai. The images of women and children clinging together in their last living moments on that March day, a half century ago, still sear our collective memory. While we harbor no doubts that My Lai was a crime, there has been no accountability for the atrocity, or a national reckoning for the wider holocaust that was Vietnam.

"The commemoration of the 50th anniversary of My Lai this month offers an opportunity to take stock of the wider implications of that disastrous March day and American culpability for the gravest of crimes."


No, we have not learned anything from My Lai, except how to better keep our eyes and ears covered and our lips sealed.

We love our cognitive dissonance. Pardon my cynicism.

An excellent analysis by Barbara Myers. I am experiencing blind hope that the rule of law will return to this nation.


The Military is glorified by our government so as to create an image of absolute righteousness in the average American’s mind.

The parties of the Duopoly have robbed the American People of their country’s treasures by allowing the Military Industrial Complex to build and maintain an Empire of 800+ Military bases worldwide.

No, We haven’t learned a thing.

If We had, We wouldn’t keep these same two parties anywhere near our government.


Where a Political leader who on television states “We came , we saw , he died” followed by a mad cackle was seen as the only legitimate choice as President next to one Donald S Trump, who is Fascist and openly Racist (Why not more people from Norway?) , I can not see much of anything has been learned in the USA.

Indeed with war “brought home” to the USA in the way of all of the mass murders happening in schools and with none that I see that as an effective advocate for peace like a Martin Luther King was , I think things have grown even worse.

There are certainly peace advocates , but the State deems none of them a real threat to the Establishment or the MIC for if they did, whether it Republican or Democrat in power, any persons leading such a movement would meet the same fate.

This same devolution towards Nationalism, stoked as it is by flag waving Patriots spreads the World Over and will lead to My Lai being seen as a Sunday School Picnic in contrast. The mass murder of the innocent is now not even covered up . It so commonplace and so accepted that a revelation such as “My Lai” was no longer has any negative traction with the public .In the USA the military is still seen as one of its most respected institutions and its soldiers all but worshipped.

What people should have learned, is that the initiative of the Pentagon to spend millions on the CONDITIONING of citizens of the UNited States of America after the Vietnam war, to never question its “heroes” in uniform (Support the troops!!!") has worked.


We should have learned that conservatives are authoritarian, violent, ruthless, criminal, cruel, greedy, despotic, stupid, reactionary, regressive, superstitious, lying animals and that people are easily misled by them.


1 Like

Yes, I think we have learned something - quite a lot actually.

We have learned that we are all the same, over the face of the Earth and throughout our collective hominid history.

We are the last hominids left standing, following some six or seven million years of evolutionary selection and chance (Lone Survivors: How We Came to Be the Only Humans on Earth).

We, in the civilized world, are as capable of torture, atrocity and mass murder as any of our predecessors, be they Mongolians led by Genghis Khan, or the British fire-bombing Dresden, or the Germans in The Blitz, or the Americans at Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Vietnam, etc…

We have learned that one valley over, A Papuan can speak a different language, and war incessantly with “the other”, even as late as ‘yesterday’ (The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?).

We have learned that even as tribes, we had the need to invent protocols and ceremonies and traditions to re-integrate our warriors back into our own societies, lest they become Navajo ‘skinwalkers’, and a danger to the very people they were meant to protect (Tribe).

This forum shows that we are learning.

We are tribal hunters and warriors, genetically comfortable with a group size of at most a hundred or two hundred, living in multi-million person societies and cultures which have developed on different continents at different times and under radically different circumstances.

And we have learned that we are heading off the proverbial cliff - together - like a herd of buffalo at ‘Head Smashed In’ by the Oldman River in southern Alberta (Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump).

Scapegoating is in our history and our religions - this too we have learned.

The question begs the real question:

What are we going to do with all we have learned ?


Well written with much to consider.

We have learned nothing. In fact a great many people would argue it wasn’t even a crime, or that it was “understandable” given the situation. When Chelsea Manning revealed the war crimes committed in Iraq, we demonstrated how far we are from having learned anything by prosecuting her, not the criminals her evidence uncovered. War crimes are committed every day in our name and we either deny or make excuses for them. In this country, a massive media campaign led by the Daily Mail (now clamouring for war with Russia and demonising Mr Corbyn for wanting to see evidence of guilt before rushing to judgment) won an early release from prison for an army sergeant who callously shot dead an unarmed and wounded Afghan. He’s a hero in our eyes, for his murderous activities.

If we had learned something from My Lai we would know that war is the crime and that starting one a criminal activity. We would not have invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, we would not have fought proxy wars in Libya, Yemen and Syria. We would acknowledge that in times of war all sides commit vile atrocities and that war should be unthinkable. But we don’t. It is still the first tool of national ambition and still hallowed in national mythologies, with all sorts of murderers in uniform lionised in nasty TV shows that present their dirty activities as heroic.


(emphasis mine)…I too have often considered that many of our subsequent problems, which are now reaching a truly awful apogee under Trump, can be traced to their roots in
the Vietnam era, when America made a drastic change for the worse, and from which it was never again the same.

1 Like

“War is a force that gives us meaning.”
-Chris Hedges