detail from Labels for Hair Ribbons by Manuel Ocampo a delectable selection of oriental appetizers
Thursday, May 03, 2001

: . A compilation of articles related to Senator Bob Kerrey (D-Nebraska) and the 1969 raid he led on Thanh Phong, a Vietnamese hamlet located in a 'free-fire' zone. Included are the Sunday Times Magazine article which led to Senator Kerrey's very public 'confession' and some commentary from the Left (Bruce Shapiro of Salon and the writer Tobias Wolff) and from the Right (Jonah Goldberg of The National Review and The Times' own William Safire). NY Times articles are free for only two weeks, hence the compilation. New Yorker articles on the other hand are ephemeral, available only for a week and then gone. So here is The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg on Senator Bob Kerrey and fellow Vietnam vet Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) and the nation's valor and the nation's shame.

While Washington pundits probe the faultlines of Senator Kerrey's conscience and stalk the lingering ghosts of the Vietnam War maybe we should attend to this plea, published in the Letters to the Editor section of The Times last week, written by Patricia Sette from Concord, Mass.:

One of the saddest aspects about Bob Kerrey's role in the killing of innocent civilians in the Vietnam War is that everyone, including Mr. Kerrey, seems to think that this story is about him. It's almost as if those who were killed have become mere stage props in some morality play instead of real human beings who suffered a terrifying and undeserved death.
The famous photo from World War II of the little boy in Warsaw held at gunpoint by a German soldier puts the situation in the right order: it is the child we focus on, not the soldier.
If only we had a similar photo of the incident under discussion! We would see at once that no matter what degree of understanding we may feel that Bob Kerrey deserves, it is the victims who are at the center of this story.

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