Hearts And Minds Vietnam Analysis

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Hearts and Minds shed a fresh and frankly horrifying light on the atrocities committed by Americans during the Vietnam War. The interviews with soldiers and government officials juxtaposed with footage of the carnage in Vietnam strikingly demonstrated just how extreme the disconnect between American’s perception of what was happening in Vietnam and the lived experiences of the Vietnamese people was. The American public perceived the conflict as a war against communism that must be fought by the U.S, as we are the only ones capable of winning the fight, without every taking into account the horrors they were inflicting on innocent Vietnamese people.
From a young age many Americans were brought up to unflinchingly oppose and despise communism
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This is followed by the declaration of General William Westmoreland that “The Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as does the Westerner. Life is cheap in the Orient.” He speaks as if Vietnamese are animals who are not affected by death and civilized people are, as a means of justifying their senseless slaughter. The footage that followed undeniably portrayed the falsity of this assumption. This was one of countless instances that exposed the extreme sense of superiority Americas felt to the “savage” Vietnamese. Prisoner of War and Veteran George Coke was asked by a schoolgirl about what Vietnam looked like and he answered, “If it wasn’t for the people, it would be very pretty.” Coke evidently perceived racism and white superiority to be so ingrained in society that he could express this to a group of children. Americans believed that they were the peak of civilization and every country, even ones with extremely different histories and cultures, should strive to be just like them. The U.S. contradicted its own supposed belief in national self-determination and isolationism by intervening in the affairs of the Vietnamese people. This caused the Vietnamese to view the U.S.

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