Vietnam War Report; Barbara Demming
Vietnam report just two weeks ago Ms Babbitt Deming visited her Nari tonight. She joins this program to answer questions from you our audience. The phone number is 8 6 8 2 500. Karen is bad and practice no. We also interviewed Miss Deming.
Good evening. CROCKER snow speaking. Seated beside me here in the studios. Is Miss Barbara Deming of Wellfleet. But before proceeding with the questions I want to fill you in just a little bit on her background. Reading from a fact sheet which she has kindly provided I see the following. Mr Ming has been active in the nonviolent civil rights and peace movements since 1060 was the only white person arrested while participating in the Birmingham Alabama civil rights demonstrations in 1963. He spent 23 days in jail in Albany Georgia in 1964 during integrated back Washington Guantanamo peace march went to Saigon South Vietnam in spring of 66 with five other members of the committee for nine nonviolent action has just returned from North Vietnam with three other American women. Visited cities and villages spoke with Vietnamese citizens visited hospitals and talked with two captive American pilots conference with Holcim in. Stopped in Chinese cities going to and returning from up North Vietnam. So that's it and now for the questions. For those in the Boston area I remind you to call 8 6 8 2 500 for those in the Amherst area listening to WFC our call 5 4 5 0 0 0 100. We've been taking questions since 6:30 and now Callan is well let's start off with one of these questions that we received earlier.
Well Crowder we have quite a few questions already and one of the first ones is from Hugh Hawkins of Pelham mass. He wants to know whether Mrs. Deming has read Mr. Salisbury's articles and if she agrees with him or is there any way she would want to change the impression he gives of North Vietnam.
I've read most of them and of course agree with most pieces because most what he said is just factual description of what he saw which in many cases with what we saw. The one the one thing that to me he doesn't stress enough which to me I would stress again and again. When the government insists that reforming only steel in concrete and when civilians get hurt this is accident. The thing with to me that I would like to ask my government and so spring does interest him enough is if it actually didn't. Why why has the U.S. dollar bomb dropped again and again which is not designed for steel and concrete but it's specifically designed for human flesh and souls produced to me doesn't make enough of this and we have another question to follow up on this topic from Bernard Boyle of North Hampton Massachusetts.
He asked whether you're sure that the bomb damage you saw and Hanoi was done by United States planes and what evidence can you cite.
Well it's just this question by the way. I'd like to to make a lot of that because to me oh. One of the things that's distressed me most in him returning here. I was distressed to begin with to see what we were doing in North Vietnam and I'm distressed and frightened upon my return here to see the unwillingness of the American public to believe what is reported by eye witness of people who who saw it with their own eyes. To me it's just irrefutable that we're we're doing this. And the American public seems to me very unwilling to believe it. Oh well when the evidence we saw was in most and a lot of these places we visited they have actually museums none of the tellers in the bombing you know had there for instance samples of American weapons that bombs that were dropped either bombs that didn't explode over the fragments of bombs that did. And you can look at the roots American the American markings on them.
There are photographs of of the damage done that don't either.
Well in the first place there are as so Springs pointed out you see craters there that couldn't possibly be had been caused by the anti aircraft missiles that the government is now claiming has caused the damage and also he talked to people after people who were. Rohit that day or had family killed when they become by now pretty expert at identifying evil by sound of various kinds of aircraft and various weapons. And unless you suppose that there's a mammoth stage Sheryl put on for you here with with the innumerable peasants and workers acting a part of grief stricken people and carefully bonded for the occasion. Reporting these days for you then it's pretty clear to you that American planes are are doing is we also. Actually when they were taken to see an American in this case pilotless plane that had just been shut down. Now conceivably they constructed this like Hollywood technicians and taken us out there and put the American markings on it and out we were taken to see this elaborate show. This to me is pretty fantastic.
Now you mentioned earlier you mention the ways a dog barks I want to hear explain what these are.
Yes I think that one point understood that the government was saying these were not leasing about leasing to a bomb so perhaps they're the same weapon by another name and the name to me makes very little difference there. We saw and held in our hands actual examples of the way sebum first comes down a long container and we start piecing some of these museums and each container contains apparently about 300 of these poems about the size of baseball each one inside is explosive and with apparently timing devices and when setting explodes hundreds of little steel pellets like ball bearings which are in the casing. Now were exploded out and live with terrific power and come from the great territory that here any human being standing anywhere in here is it. It's a fluke if he doesn't get some of these in him and the the power of it in one place when village will disappear. Where they were taken out to just a field near some very simple workers houses where a lot of people have been killed including a lot of young children who've been tending water buffalo and there was a power pole of metal power pole there in which. Quite a number of these pilots were deeply embedded in the force thing so this is sort of a glorified hand grenade really airborne hand grenade I take it.
Perhaps and I want to get to a different subject now Mrs. Carter's idea of Winchester and I phoned in and asked the following. She mentions that we all hear that those who left North Vietnam in 1054 were mostly Catholics who left because they feared religious persecution. And she wants to know if Huma stemming saw any indication in Hanoi that these fears were justified.
No none quite the contrary. I'm glad this question was Has because we made a point of asking to see the Catholic priest and we also met various Catholic laymen there and. One thing they told us about was exactly how far this impression was given they said after the Geneva agreements there was a very conscious propaganda job done. But I think the French and the Americans to persuade Catholics that they would be oppressed if they stayed. Even the priest even showed us a picture of a little boy who was persuaded to pretend to see a vision of the Virgin Mary who told him she was going south and all Catholics better follow her. But this priest and the various Catholic laymen we met all said that there was absolutely no oppression that they had complete. Freedom of worship there. And there by the way we also asked the priest directly what do you think of communism. And his reply meant pretty much like this he said the communists. Are not religious and don't believe in God and I obviously believe in God and I'm religious but they grant us perfect freedom to worship as we wish. And furthermore they are taking the lead in promoting the economy and the culture of this country and we admire them and cooperate with them. He made a point to get under the under the French when they were fighting the French the French often use churches to put gun positions in and when they retreated they destroyed the churches and he said the communists after they had eaten the French helped us rebuild the churches. He said we had absolutely no problems with him. He was a made the point that American planes are now who have destroyed 125 Catholic churches.
This this is surprising from. Considering the fact it is the alleged fact that the Catholic population of South Vietnam is among the most rigid any anti communist stand on third.
This is no Risto because when we made the trip to Saigon last April 1. For five minutes before we attempt to do our protest we spent seeing as many get much news as we could. NEWSROOM strictly communist and when there were many Catholics and those Catholics who took the position that if only the Americans would withdraw the noncommunist peace forces could easily have conversations with the endo and set up a coalition government. And none of these Catholics were at all afraid of the communists. They made the point as you know also the Buddhist with whom you talked economists were patriots first in communist second. That's the way. And they said many other Catholics feel this way.
I remind listeners at this point that you're listening to Miss Biber Demming one of four American women who just returned from Hanoi less than two weeks ago and this is a live broadcast we're taking. Found in queries from both the Boston area and the Amherst area if you're in the Boston area. Call it six eight to five hundred. And if you're in the area Steria call 5 4 5 0 100. Now count you have some further questions.
Miss Deming you just mentioned the issue of patriotism we have a phone call here from this is Ralph Robins of Wayland Massachusetts. She wants to know how did you get any feeling as to how much communist China influences and supports North Vietnam.
I would I would say that I know there's always the great bogey of if. If Vietnam if we don't win in Vietnam then the Chinese will just move on down that much further. I think this is absolutely ridiculous because when the first things you noticed in Vietnam as well recently are fighting the war and the reason they're not going to give up which is something I'd like to stress is that they're fighting a war for their independence from any foreign domination. French Japanese they fought. Now the American years ago they fought off the Chinese at least three times I think. And whether the Chinese Russian they hear they want what they're fighting for is for the right the Vietnamese to determine the destinies of yet not one or more specifically that you see Chinese There have many.
I thought my doing.
No I know there's a Chinese Embassy there and I assume there are Chinese in it but I saw no others.
You didn't see Chinese technicians or equipment.
Now this doesn't prove that they weren't there but from all the talks I had the thing I felt most strongly in the Vietnamese was their wish to be independent even if their friends and. So I would be surprised if there were many there but I can't speak with authority about that of course.
Mrs shen of Cambridge has two questions. One the first one is to what does the North Vietnam government attribute the failure of the country to negotiate a settlement and the second is what is the North Vietnamese view of what the United States must do to bring about a settlement and I think that's very simple.
I think that to bring about a settlement the United States must be willing to let the Vietnamese the term in their room destiny and so this is I don't know if that nominee's view I would say yes I would say it's the North Vietnamese and the South Vietnamese except for the key government which speaks for hardly any means of tomorrow. And this person of the person with a gun pointed out to us couldn't stand for an hour. If the Americans were backing it up.
And her first question was to what does the North Vietnamese government attribute the failure of the country to negotiate a settlement. This is the government here.
Yes well I would assume the Jordan has them this directly that they attributed to the unwillingness of the United States to let the Vietnamese run their own affairs.
He spoke without hoti men did he mention anything about this.
Not directly in answer to that question but totally related to it. One of the things he talked most about was how no not only he but everything nice was going to fight and fight fight. This war would never surrender whatever terror was used against them because it was a war for independence and he said you know what it is to be slaves. And he made the point that you know they were suffering greatly from this war. This is under the French. There were huge women many many of them died simply of starvation.
I remember standing I know in your factsheet here that you're a member of the Executive Committee of the New England international committee for nonviolent action.
Jerm member of core NAACP.
The Women Strike for Peace and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom So you're obviously an activist and in certain areas and there's this question as relates to that it's from Simon Fitch of Winthrop and he asks whether your view America whether America looks different to you now after your trip to North Vietnam.
Well it looks more so I guess.
But as I say the thing I'd stress again is the thing that it frightens me about my country at this point is I think it's very unwilling to look at itself. It's very unwilling to face what it's doing in Vietnam. It's I'm willing to face what its role in the room is at this moment and her. This scares me because for instance about the war in Vietnam. And one reason I would stress the fact that the Vietnamese are not going to surrender whatever terror we use against them. What frightens me is in this unwillingness of Americans to face this that the only way we're going to win that war if we insist on winning it and win would be a strange word to use here too is by literally exterminating them all. And I think it's absolutely necessary for the Americans to. To face this and to ask themselves Is this what we want our government to do in our name. Commit genocide.
I notice that you have used the word terror several times in relation to American actions in North Vietnam and I wonder what your attitude is concerning the various terrorist activities of the Viet Cong and in some cases I gather the North Vietnamese regular army in South Vietnam.
Well that's a patch just like my attitude about the use of terror by anybody in any place. He's obviously been against it and I would hardly deny that he would do good coming from the North Vietnamese were using it. That's what war is. I do feel it's always intrigued me that in the broadcast the terror is used only for the net con and in spite of fact that the US has one winning.
Heavy weapons in the room terrorists never used in a bar so I didn't mean that you can't deny that preponderance of terror used is an arsenal and Apropos of this we just got a question from Charles Jones of Rahway and he asks whether you observed any atrocities by the Viet Cong in South Vietnam and your attitude. We don't particularly care about your attitude because you just gave it but whether you in fact observed any atrocities or saw the effects of this in South Vietnam as you apparently did in North Vietnam where we didn't have the same opportunities we were in the city of silicone.
The of course there are acts of terror but the good con wouldn't want to go there wouldn't he. We didn't observe any at the time we think we were there for a week.
I notice that you got many of your requests while you were in North Vietnam that the North Vietnamese Government carried them out and in fact took you to many of the places that you asked to visit now. What's your reaction to this. You were talking earlier about a massive traumatic move on their part a red carpet treatment. And do you think do you feel that this was in fact that.
Well to answer this in another way I know when you ask it nicely and other people are vested in a kind of hostile way they said Don't you feel you were used by the North Vietnamese in my reply to that is or was. Obviously it was useful to the North Vietnamese to have us observe what we did and come back and tell about it. But to me it's also profoundly useful for the American public to know the same facts. And another point I would stress is that to me. You see there is no conflict of interest really between the people of Vietnam and the people of the United States who are also suffering from this war. Oh To me this waging this war is an interest of very very few of us in this country and by those few I mean the few against whom President Eisenhower warned us before he retired.
And once more a quick reminder if you have any questions you the listening audience for this Barbara Deming. You can call it six eight to five hundred in the Boston area or 5 4 5 0 100 in the Amherst area. Now Carolyn what about for the questions that you have.
We have a question here from Albany Fosse of Cambridge he was said Now whether you see any evidence that North Vietnam is a threat to the security of this country.
I see absolutely no evidence. And one of the reasons I took the trip I did when reason was of course to see with my own eyes. What my government was doing. Oh yeah the roast too saying very clearly by my act that I refused to accept my government's judgment that these people are our enemies because I see no way in which they threaten us in the way in which they are trying to determine our lives in the United States. When you said by your IQ mean that a passport refuses you the that right passport does not either you give us permission to go there. But this I feel very strongly to I think in a democracy to refuse citizens the right to travel anywhere they want particularly when they want to observe what their government is doing. If they don't refuse this permission you can't any longer call it a government. Oh well I'm for the people. How can you.
I'd like you to give us a brief disk description of your trip in North Vietnam. Where were you taken. How long were you there. You know where you spend most of your time.
Rivera lived in Belize and the first place we visited there for their first our main cordons of Hanoi and all four have been bombed and these are strictly civilian quarters workers houses mostly. We also visited the winter food which is not far from Norway. We made it and which was was bombed. Completely destroyed in a sense been rebuilt.
We made two longer trips which we were able to do one of two supports a truce that is because they were of course very careful for our long lives and even understood you get up to travel by night. You get up at 3:30 in the morning and travel and you stay there and you come back on those days we went to for instance food and now I'm done fooling with it was a village that used to have a population of 8000 now has a population of nobody because every building in it has been wrecked. Oh and we made a trip to another larger place called the name for the moment escapes me something beyond beyond that at these names and we're not at these places where you could do a variety of things with look at the bomb damage. We talk to the people who've been hurt themselves that they are had their families killed. We visit hospitals.
And we want to win.
Here's a brief description.
Here's another question from Nora Joyce of Hamilton Massachusetts. Why do you feel that we should not hold the line between North and South Vietnam. And if we had a line if it were violated surely guy hadn't bought a new life.
I don't think we should be I'm getting a tunnel and also speaking of the line between North and South. Well given the fact you are there I don't think we should hold them lying there so that's the only answer I can I can give to that question I don't think we should move across from the south and move north and I think we should get out of the south and that's the mantra. But as for the difference between north and south this is one thing I'd like to talk about too. Because as the Geneva agreement said it's one country and the line was drawn as a temporary line strictly for military recruitment. It's one country and this was this I knew from meeting the Geneva agreements and Vietnamese history before I went but when she got there it's clearing them in a very immediate and personal sense. For instance just the fact that almost anyone you meet in North Vietnam has family in the south from whom they're separated. Another thing that brought it home to me was on some of these one trips the woman pointed out to me a certain kind of palm tree growing and said the street never used to grow or tall in North Vietnam now you see it everywhere. We planted it to remind us of the South.
Getting getting back again to the first part of that answer in how how we resolve the situation. Benjamin fried all of Wes Newton asks by subway How should we end the war in Vietnam in your opinion and I think there's a very simple answer.
Just get out of there because it's not our country. What kind of society they build is their business not ours and we should disgrace responsible. Withdrawal. They don't like what I hope she didn't said which was he said it's not our object to humiliate the Americans that would be no victory he said.
But then he talked again of their determination to be independent. And he said if the Americans would leave let it be our country would gladly give them a banquet with champagne and we could be friends he said. If they won't go to music then we'll have to fight them. If the Americans would leave South Vietnam one of you know you are.
Here. Here's a question from Cambridge from Mrs. Gray splitter. Why did the North Vietnamese say what do they say is the reason that the United States is in the war and what does Mrs Deming think is the reason and perhaps you could tell us who tell you what.
Yes we're going to we didn't. I don't remember asking that question directly. You could get a complicated answer I think but sums it up is that they're in there to try to have some say in what kind of society is built there. When you could talk of various reasons for wanting to have this say obviously to. Our relation to China isn't brought here and we want it as a military base against China and of course to lose. One country which should be chaperoned as a military base against another country is to me entirely immoral and to want to have a say in about how a society in another country is built. Well this to me is entirely also unjustified on our part. That's why I would recommend what who came in recommending that his but the Americans to leave with music.
Yeah John Ross of Brookline asks something that which I think you'll find interesting and that's. What you think best selling is the most positive course of action for people that agree with you are there.
I have my own. Particular biased but I would say to me a repeat again that this war is waged by very few of us than we are. We are making it possible for them to wage it by giving them the tax money with which to pay for it and by sending our sons and brothers and friends to fight it and by turning out in the factories the weapons with which they fight it. And my answer is refused to do that any longer refused to pay them the tax money as long as it goes with this kind of thing. Refuse to fight in it. And if your women encourage the young men who. Are thinking of that but hesitant and back them in their stand and both refuse yourself to make the weapon the standard courage others to refuse to make them and the scientist only certainly will refuse to invent these really damnable things for you personally.
For example refusing to pay your taxes.
Yes I refused to pay my tax in other words you are therefore favoring civil disobedience of the kind that as much as breaks the statutes of our country.
Yes I would recommend it with all my heart and as widespread as anyone who is against this war. I think and feels that it's that it's not in their interest it's not their war. Should make it not there by refusing to help the government because the driver of a democratic process which you don't agree with I think entirely so here for now especially when especially when democracy is being flouted here when you vote for a man because he says he's not going to escalate the warrantee escalate when Congress as declared that how can you vote against the war except in a storeroom to put it you know your lives.
We just have about a minute left. But Dean Allen of Amherst Massachusetts wants to know whether you or any members of your delegation have spoken with American officials or congressional committee about your information that you gathered in Hanoi or observations that you saw made and if so what are their reactions to you.
I have no stores no Gnome neither to one of the three other women have the one I'm talking recently. I would be very happy to do so.
Will you comment on the statement of Dr Spock in the January issue of Ramparts magazine that one million children of Vietnam have been killed wounded or burned since the United States started fighting in Vietnam. This is from Dr. Pepper like Megs of Waveland.
Yes I think this is a statement that should be read by every American.
We have one more question here I think for EARLY START. Do you see anyone that those of us who feel sorry about the war anyway can get in touch with each other since our views are so poorly represented by the press and administration.
Mrs Mahler of rock Spain can you make it brief Please like us through these groups specially to attract you.
All right well I'm sorry that we have to interrupt now but you've been listening to Miss Barbara Deming who was one of four American women who has returned from Hanoi from North Vietnam from a conversation with him in just really less than two weeks ago. And I want to say at this time for those of you who called in questions and didn't hear them on the air we can only apologize perhaps your questions duplicated some that were already heard or perhaps it was the one attention of our air time if you found a sort of show of interest please let us know. Listen again next week at the same time for a Vietnam War report.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
- Vietnam War Report
- Barbara Demming
- Producing Organization
- WGBH Educational Foundation
- Contributing Organization
- WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
- AAPB ID
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/15-33rv1fsw).
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
Production Unit: Radio
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: 67-0065-01-24-001 (WGBH Item ID)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “Vietnam War Report; Barbara Demming,” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 16, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-33rv1fsw.
- MLA: “Vietnam War Report; Barbara Demming.” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 16, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-33rv1fsw>.
- APA: Vietnam War Report; Barbara Demming. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-33rv1fsw