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Racism in Vietnam and Iraq War


Submitted By ghatz
Words 4184
Pages 17
Gabriella Hatzopoulos
War & Society
Uniting Tactics, Divisive Consequences
Rape, torture and murder against innocent civilians- what could cause someone to do such a thing? The My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War was a result of a war tactic that continues to be utilized today: racism and dehumanization of the enemy. This strategy, employed by the Armed Forces and facilitated by the media back on American soil has proven to be dangerous in that it causes both soldiers and civilians to treat an entire group as subhuman and unworthy of empathy. We can see this in the My Lai Massacre and through the persistent hare crimes against Muslims during the United States’ current “war on terror.”
On March 16 1968, 140 men of the American Charlie Company entered the village of My Lai and were ordered to kill whoever they saw. There was the belief that the province of Quang Ngai where My Lai was located was a stronghold for Vietcong guerillas. After increasing frustration with losing their soldiers and not progressing in the war as much as they’d like, the group took their anger out on what was thought was a village of Vietcong enemies. It was the first chance they had to meet the enemy face to face instead of through grenades and booby traps and finally get even. Lieutenant William L. Calley ordered a search and destroy mission and urged that anyone in My Lai was to be considered connected to the Vietcong in some way, and should be killed.
Though no guerillas were found when Charlie Company reached the village, the task was still carried out. The law regarding civilian immunity during war clearly states that civilians “should not be object of attack” and that soldiers must be able to “distinguish at all times between combatants and military objects, and civilians or civilian objects,” (Gutman and Rieff 1999: 84). The Charlie Company completely disregarded these

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