Tag Archives: History

"The Terror of War" Pulitzer Prize winner 1973 - Spot News Photography

Truth in Education and the Vietnam War

This post is a direct result of my frustration with the garbage spouted by history teachers in the modern education system.  The subject is a photo taken during the Vietnam War and the lies that have grown up around the events leading to the picture. The Photo is named “The Terror of War” and it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 in the Spot News Photography category.

"The Terror of War" Pulitzer Prize winner 1973 - Spot News Photography
“The Terror of War” Pulitzer Prize winner 1973 – Spot News Photography

Along with the 1968 photo “Saigon Execution” (another post their as well), this is one of the most iconic images to come out of the Vietnam War.  What started this is when my son came home from school and asked me about the photo.  He was told by his history teacher that the Americans bombed the village and that the girl in the photo subsequently died.  Naturally, I lost it.  First, I was floored that such garbage was being taught, especially since the facts surrounding the picture are so well known.  I told him his teacher was wrong and told him the facts.  He then asked his teacher about it after class one day whereupon she told him that I was lying and she had seen an interview with the American pilot who dropped the bombs.  She is no doubt referring to John Plummer, who asserted in a 1996 Canadian documentary that he ordered the bombing, a story later proved to be false.


Video of the airstrike on Trang Bang taken in 1972, the aircraft are clearly identifiable as Douglas A-1 Skyraiders, and aircraft only flown by the RVNAF in 1972.

The short version of the picture is this. The photo was taken on June 8, 1973 by Huynh Cong “Nick” Ut an Associated Press photographer after the village of Trang Bang was accidentally napalmed by A-1 Skyraiders from the 518th Fighter Squadron of the Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF). The girl in the picture is named Phan Thi Kim Phuc an she was nine years old in the photo. The two boys on the left in the picture are her brothers and the children on the right are her cousins.

The airstrike was ordered by the commander of the 25th Division from the ARVN and carried out by aircraft of the RVNAF 518th Fighter Squadron. At no point in the loop between requesting, authorizing, or executing the airstrikes were any Americans involved. It was a completely Vietnamese show. Even more back story is that the village of Trang Bang was under attack by North Vietnamese forces and that is why the 25th division was there in the first place. The airstrike hit the wrong target which resulted in injuries and death to civilians. Not to be flip, but these kinds of things happen in war. War is only clean in video games.

Kim Phuc survived the war and defected to Canada in 1992 where she currently lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with her husband and two sons.  She also established the Kim Foundation, a charity dedicate to helping the child victims of war.  Ironically enough, the website for her charity repeats the lie that an American adviser was responsible for calling in the airstrike.

References:

Horst Faas and Marianne Fulton The Survivor, http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0008/ng1.htm. accessed 8 Feb 2013
List of Pulitzer Prize winning Photos in the Spot News Category, http://www.pulitzer.org/bycat/Spot-News-Photography. accessed 8 Feb 2013
Timberlake, Ronald N. The Fraud Behind The Girl In The Photo: Hijacking the history of the Vietnam veteran 1999. http://www.ndqsa.com/myth.html  accessed 8 Feb 2013
Zhang, Michael. www.petapixel.com Interview with Nick Ut. 19 Sep. 2012 http://www.petapixel.com/2012/09/19/interview-with-nick-ut-the-photojournalist-who-shot-the-iconic-photo-napalm-girl/ accessed 8 Feb 2013

Historical Resources on the Web – Updated 24 Jun 2014

Updated 24 June 2014 – Below the fold is a list of historical sources on the internet, this includes both primary and secondary source collections.   I am constantly updating this list when I run across useful sites.   Please point me at sites I miss in the comments section. Continue reading

Bias in Academic History?

I got my latest copy of the SMH Journal of Military History a few weeks ago and am working my way through the articles.  The Journal always provides grist for at least one post, most of the time it is a thought provoking article that prompts me to post.  This time it is different.  There is a phrase in one of the articles that caused me to raise my eyebrows.  The article is:  Candice Shy Hooper, “The War That Made Hollywood: How the Spanish-American War Saved the U.S. Film Industry,” The Journal of Military History76 #1 (January 2012): 69-97.  The phrase is:

“The newest form of mass entertainment in the United States was, virtually from the outset, held hostage by a very small, primarily mechanically minded monopoly of urban white males.” Emphasis mine

The sentence is at the end of a paragraph discussing the stagnation of film as an industry after it’s introduction.  What got me thinking was what the point of the sentence, especially the last three words was.  I cannot figure out the implication of the whole urban white male piece except that the author is somehow implying that any other group of people would have done a much better job of developing the nascent film industry.  I good go into an orgy of being offended but I will not, instead I will simply point out that the author does not expand on why this was a bad thing other than to claim lack of imagination.

I cite this as an example of why current academia is losing it’s popular appeal.  Knowledge is no longer for the masses, it is restricted to an elite group of people who let their own prejudices guide them as they delude themselves into thinking ow open-minded they are.  I guarantee that if she had made the same remark but substituted black males or females, the comment would not have made it past the peer-review process.  In many ways, those that claim to be open-minded or objective are just as much, if not more prejudiced tha thse they are writing about.

Mostly, I am just shocked that this comment and its tone made it into the Journal. Apparently the reviewers agree with her implication that urban white males are somehow bad.  Never mind the fact that most of the scientific advances of the last 400-500 years have come from that group.  They have bought the white man is an oppressor meme hook, line, and sinker.  How sad.

 

Comments please, I would love to get a discussion going on this.