Avatar No. 14, December 8-21, 1967, p 13
Wayne Hansen: The Illuminated Beggar

AVATAR:
I don't know what you people think you are doing with your Anti-Vietnam bag, but I do know what you are doing. You are encouraging the VC and boosting their morale. We have found many propaganda leaflets pertaining to U.S. anti-Viet marches and protests. Apparently you are making the worst of a bad situation while we are trying to make the best of it. Remember that there are a lot of people over here who don't want to be here. How about running some articles encouraging the soldiers in Vietnam, especially those of us who have a "US" prefix on our service numbers!

Sincerely,
Richard L. Ketchen
Advisory Tm. 27
APO San Francisco 96238

Dear Richard,

At first your letter made me angry, not because you disagreed, but because you obviously understand so little about yourself. Maybe you're just too drenched with Army bullshit to see outside of it, maybe you like the army, maybe you think the war in Vietnam is a good thing, shit I don't know what you think, but your letter is sure wrong, baby.

If we're encouraging the VC, don't forget that you've got a good solid 75% of what are generally referred to as the American people behind you. They seem to have a lot of trouble getting very many people to their demonstrations, maybe some people don't care FOR the war as much as other people care AGAINST it, but after all, the war is supported by American Business and by the majority of the people in power, and it doesn't really make that much difference what a few of us object to, they intend to go right ahead and kill all those gooks anyway. Only they don't do it themselves, they hire you, or draft you, to do it for them.

We're not making "the worst of a bad situation", we're showing just how bad the situation really is. How do you make the best of it? Kill only two VC instead of four? Wait patiently for the whole thing to get over? Huh? Are you kidding, man? Be honest with yourself and see just for a moment that there is no best to make out of that war, that the only thing it can lead to as far as people in Vietnam are concerned is more American soldiers getting killed, more Vietnamese getting killed, more children getting napalmed and an entire country being devastated. Those things are not going to be stopped until the war is stopped. You can't make anything good of that whole fucked up show, unless, possibly, it's that a whole lot of people have gotten together over here to oppose it.

If there are a lot of people over there who don't want to be there, then why are they there? Can you blame it on Johnson, or the Generals, or American Imperialism, or some vague Communist threat? I don't think so. If you don't want to be there, why don't you tell them so? Tell them you're sick of their fucking war, you don't see that it's doing any good, and that you just won't do what you don't want to anymore. Look, the Vietnamese don't want the war, you don't want the war, I don't want the war, so why the fuck is there a war? I'm doing what I can, the Cong are doing what they can, but you guys are still there. That doesn't make much sense. I know that insubordination in war is suicide, or at least a long jail sentence, but a whole lot of people over here are taking the same chance to get to the same thing. I turned in my draft card, which makes me liable to five years in jail and a ten thousand dollar fine. Two thousand others have done the same. The FBI can arrest us for it if they want to. People come and throw bricks through our office windows and beat us up on the streets because of what we stand for. The cops look the other way. Hey, man, I didn't want to go fight a sorry war in Vietnam, so I didn't: instead I slashed my wrists with a rusty razor at the induction station. I just fucking was not going to go. So please don't lie to yourself about why you're there, because if you REALLY didn't want to be you wouldn't.

If there's any encouragement I can give to you guys, it's that we're working as hard as we can over here to make it a bigger and better place to live. Maybe by the time you come back we will have done just a little toward that end. We wish you'd come back and help out, you'd be doing a lot more good here. There's a fight for freedom going on here that's parallel to the one in Vietnam, only we're more like the VC. Everyday we expose a little more garbage and uncover a few more lies, and every day we get out a little more truth. For God's sake come back with your arms and legs and eyes and ears so you can walk and work and be together with us. We're your brothers, what's happening here is what's important – the war in Vietnam is just the last excuse of a sick society trying to prove to itself that it's got something going. And it hasn't. We're the new life force trying to root out the crap to make room for a real America. Come back and work with us.

Your big brother,
Wayne Hansen

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Mel Lyman