Someone could do an entire blog, with several posts daily, just on phony, ideological re-writing of the history of the Vietnam War. Here's another one, Possible cover-up in Iraq draws parallels to My Lai, says Vanderbilt historian VUCast 05/31/2006
[Vanderbilt historian Thomas Alan] Schwartz says that one of the real dangers is that Haditha, similar to My Lai, could become sharply politicized, and the truth about the incident become secondary to opposing political agendas. During the controversy over the My Lai massacre, opponents of the war argued that the individual soldiers like William Calley, the only man convicted for My Lai, were scapegoats, and that the real responsibility rested with the leaders in Washington. On the other hand, supporters of the war excused the massacre with a “war is hell” attitude and rejected the idea that any American soldier be punished for war crimes. “The result of this politicization was that the exceptional nature of the crimes at My Lai was lost, and a distorted view about the average behavior of American soldiers in Vietnam became widely accepted,” he said.
Uh, no. Anyone who wasn't completely spaced out about the meaning of law in war understood that gunning down hundreds of unarmed civilians was a war crime, whatever their personal attitudes toward the war. Yes, some people argued that Calley was being made a scapegoat; but that didn't mean that everyone taking that position thought he should be freed of his legal responsibility for his crimes. Some of them did, which mainly illustrated how clueless they were about the laws of war.
And, yes, some prowar zealots treated Calley as a hero for murdering unarmed civilian "gooks". It was and is a disgusting attitude. Human nature being the sad thing that it is, there will always be some blowhards who take that position. But to imply that was the general sentiment among war supporters is also not accurate. Any adult not suffering from serious mental retardation can understand the difference between killing enemy soldiers or guerrillas in battle, and rounding up a whole village full of women, children and old men and machine-gunning them to death.
Nixon showed the darkest side of himself by commuting Calley's sentence and letting him go free. He was pandering to that sement of the voting public then called "Wallace voters", in reference to supporters of George Wallace at the height of his racist posturing. Mean white folks, in other words. The OxyContin crowd, I call them today, in honor of Rush Limbaugh's drug of choice.