|All Sources > The Manitou Messenger (DA-MM) > The Manitou Messenger (1916-2014) > 1969 > No. 20, Vol. 82|
Author: Jay Summerville
Focusing his remarks on the President's Nov. 3 address to the nation, Rep. Don Fraser (D-Minn.) criticized Mr. Nixon last Friday evening for taking the real "easy way out" by postponing the truly hard decisions about the war.
The Minneapolis congressman noted that the most chilling aspect of the speech was Nixon's willingness to accept the substitution of his own name in what used to be called "Johnson's War."
Fraser refuted Nixon's claim that to call Vietnam Johnson's war and blame the consequences of a pullout on the former President would be "politically cynical." He stated that this may have been Mr. Nixon's best chance for ending the war.
"The most ominous aspect of the speech," Fraser said, "was Nixon's emphasis that there is 'a peace to be won' and that it is to be won 'by us.'" By using highly charged words such as "defeat," "betrayal," and "humiliation," the President is making the eventual pullout of American forces more difficult.
Fraser also criticized the President for misleading the public into thinking that there are only two possible solutions for ending American involvement — a precipitate withdrawal or an open-ended withdrawal. He implied that there is a middle path.
As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Fraser was personally concerned with the resolution approving Nixon's policies which' was passed without hearings the day after the nation-wide address. He was the author of a minority report which criticized the President's speech point by point and expressed concern that the resolution of support might be misconstrued as was the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.
Moving beyond Vietnam, Representative Fraser commented on the arms limitation talks which are about to begin in Helsinki, and set forth his hope that the United States and Russia will be able to end the lunacy of building more and more elaborate "defensive" strategic systems to protect them against each others' "defensive" systems.
He feels that the hard line military viewpoint prevails in the U.S. bargaining position in the Finnish capital.
In Fraser's opinion, the ABM system now under development, and the AMSA and MIRV systems which are in the planning stages, are provocative and wasteful. He also added his name to the long list of politicians who have publicly opposed any further testing of chemical and biological warfare weapons.
Concluding with general observations about the future of the Republic, the congressman said that America must maintain a foreign policy which has world-wide concern for the enslaved and down-trodden. He was quick to emphasize that this does not necessarily mean military engagement. But he said that America must begin to make more tough-minded decisions concerning its vital interests and. national security. It must also reduce military spending and reallocate those resources.
On the home front, Fraser cited the triple dangers of racism, alienation, and the rapid deterioration of the environment.
Following a question period, the chapel audience was treated to a propagandistic performance in mixed media which — in contrast to Fraser's rational and intellectual approach — called for an immediate emotional response. It was produced by Mrs. Carl Wiener.
Much of the presentation was trite and much was nothing more than sensationalism. Furthermore, it lacked a unifying structure. But if the whole was not a successful work of art, there were some successful parts. And with a highly sympathetic audience, it certainly succeeded as propaganda.
The "mixed media" were slides on three different screens, readings from various works of literature and the quotations of famous people, dancing, acting and music.
The slides depended for their effect on the juxtaposition of violent and pacific scenes and the investing of traditional symbols of patriotism with the macabre trappings of war (e.g. the American flag with skulls instead of stars).
The readings were laden with irony and satire (e.g. Marshal Ky's praise for Hitler, and the comparison of the Vietnam campaign with Quijote's tilting with windmills). The skits were sensational — men with guns aimed at the audience, and the Statue of Liberty forced to move about at gunpoint. The playing of the "Stars and Stripes Forever" as a background for violence and death has certainly been overworked.
The dancing was perhaps the highlight of the production. The choreography by Ron Bush and the performance by Mrs. Fred Easter and Terry O'Dean were skillfully executed and provided a moment of poignance.
The production pleased a crowd of angry young men and women. It would not move a more representative audience to an aversion to war as "All Quiet on the Western Front" once did.