The young Kerry seems to have fallen in the latter category, communist apologist. Under questioning from the Committee, Kerry referred to the democratically elected government of South Vietnam -- our allies -- as a "dictatorial regime, the Thieu-Ky-Khiem regime," while respectfully calling the North Vietnamese communist regime we were fighting by its oxymoronic official name, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and the murderous Viet Cong's political arm by their preferred "Provisional Revolutionary Government."
He claimed the Vietnamese people "didn't even know the difference between communism and democracy," saying, "I think you will find they will respond to whatever government evolves, which answers their needs, and those needs quite simply are to be fed, to bury their dead in plots where their ancestors live, to be allowed to extend their culture, to try and exist as human beings." In response to a follow-up question, Kerry said, "you can satisfy those needs with almost any kind of political structure, giving it one name or the other. In this name (sic) it is democratic; in others it is communism; in others it is benevolent dictatorship."
But communist victory in Vietnam did make a difference. The communist victors killed hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese after the fall of Saigon, forced more than 1.5 million into "re-education camps" and caused two million others to flee Vietnam altogether.
Kerry has never retracted his communist apologia, leading Stephen J. Morris, senior fellow at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University to charge this week that Kerry "sympathized with the communist cause."
Speaking on my syndicated radio program on Monday, Morris said, "John Kerry's life since 1971 with regard to Vietnam and Cambodia has been a policy of attempting to atone for ever fighting against them. ... He has bottled up a resolution from ever appearing in the U.S. Senate concerned with human rights in Vietnam today; he has never once expressed a public criticism of the government of Vietnam with respect to its human rights policy."
John Kerry deserves to make atonement to the Vietnamese people -- not for what he did as a young soldier but for what he has done ever since to justify communist tyranny in Vietnam and elsewhere.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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