Hue: the massacre the
Left wants us to forget

By Gerard Jackson The New Australian


No. 66,   16-22 February 1998

Bryan Patterson


Bryan Patterson was sent a copy of this article and was offered right of reply. He ignored the offer and refused to comment on the article's specific criticism of his brand of 'journalism'. I have no doubt that readers will draw the appropriate conclusion.

Pious hypocrisy is always a nauseating spectacle, but more so when it raises its ugly head in defense of a murderous regime. Bryan Patterson, religious correspondent for the Sunday Herald Sun, wrote an article (14/12/97) from the Vietnamese village of My Lai where the infamous massacre of 109 civilians was ordered by Lieutenant Calley on March 16, 1968. The allegations of mass rape, sodomy and mutilation that he willingly regurgitated were provided by ever-truthful communist officials.

What this man of God did not say, however, is that what differentiated the US military from Hanoi and its Southern stooges is that while the Mai Lai massacre was an isolated act that appalled the US military, North Vietnam had implemented a policy of terrorism by mutilation and massacre. There was the terrible atrocity at Tay Loc where scores men, women and children were murdered by the Viet Cong in an act of calculated butchery. Then there was a bus carrying 22 peasants that the Viet Cong stopped. They murdered every one of them. These murderous incidents were part of a calculated reign of terror planned and authorized by Hanoi and ruthlessly waged against South.

The Hue massacre was the most shocking example of the North's barbaric policy. On January 30, 1968, the Vietcong, on instructions from Hanoi, broke the Tet truce by launching an offensive against the South. Hue, an administrative center just south of the border, was over run by communist forces who quickly set about their cold-blooded business of calculated mass murder. Thousands of were thrown into trenches and then buried, even though some were still alive. But if Patterson doubts my veracity then let another tell the awful tale.

The following is Uwe Siemon-Netto's mea culpa to the English magazine Encounter,1979:

"Having covered the Viet Nam war over a period of five years for West German publications, I am now haunted by the role we journalists have played over there. Those of us who had wanted to find out knew of the evil nature of the Hanoi regime. We knew that, in 1956, close to 50,000 peasants were executed in North Vietnam. [As Nguyen Manh Tuong stated at the 1956 National Congress in Hanoi: 'It is better to kill 10 innocent people then let one enemy escape.'] We knew that after the division of the country nearly 1 million North Vietnamese had fled to the South.

"Many of us have seen the tortured and carved-up bodies of men, women and children executed by the Viet Cong in the early phases of the war. And many of us saw, in 1968, the mass graves of Hue, saw [take note, Mr. Patterson] the corpses of thousands of civilians still festively dressed for Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. Why, for Heavens sake, did we not report these expressions of deliberate North Vietnamese strategy at least as extensively as of the Mai Lai massacre and other such isolated incidents that were definitely not part of the U.S. policy in Viet Nam?

"What prompted us to make our readers believe that the Communists, once in power in all of Viet Nam, would behave benignly? What made us, first and foremost Anthony Lewis, belittle warnings by U.S. officials that a Communist victory would result in a massacre? Why did we ignore the fact that the man responsible for the executions of 50,000 peasants, Truong Chinh, was — and still is — one of the most powerful figures in Hanoi? What made us think that he and his comrades would have mercy for the vanquished South Vietnamese? What compelled, for example, Anthony Lewis shortly after the fall of Saigon to pat himself on the shoulder and write, "so much for the talk of a massacre?' True, no Cambodian-style massacre took place in Vietnam. It's just that Hanoi coolly drives its ethnic Chinese opponents into the sea. That's what Nasser threatened to do to the Israelis, no massacre intended, of course.

"Are we journalists not in part responsible for the death of the tens of thousands who drowned? And are we not in part responsible for the hostile reception accorded to those who survive? Did we not turn public opinion against them, portraying them, as one singularly ignoble cartoon did in the United States, as a bunch of pimps, whores, war profiteers, corrupt generals or, at best, outright reactionaries?

"Considering that today's Vietnam tragedy may have a lot to do with the way we reported yesterday's Vietnam tragedy; considering that we journalists might have our fair share of guilt for the inhuman way the world treats those who are being expelled by an inhuman regime which some of us had pictured as heroic, I think at least a little humility would be in order for us old Viet Nam hands, Mr. Lewis included. And if I did not strongly believe in everybody's right of free expression at any time, I would even admonish him to keep quiet about Indo-China, at least for a while".

Robert Elegant, who had been a journalist in Vietnam, wrote in a similar vein to Encounter, August 1981, about the shabbiness and dishonesty of much of the 'reporting'; from Vietnam. Are these men liars, Mr. Patterson? Is Siemon-Netto lying about Hue, for example? In his 'report' from Vietnam Patterson made no mention of the 'boat-people', tens of thousands of whom died at sea fleeing Hanoi's tyranny; he also ignored the thousands of South Vietnamese who were murdered by the victorious North after the fall of Saigon, also ignored are the thousands of victims of Hanoi's Gulag.

Last year, Vietnamese dissident Nguyen Chi Thien described to The Australian the appalling conditions he endured during his 12 years in Hanoi's Gulag. He called the suffering of the Vietnamese people an "outside prison" and called on the world's democracies to pressure Hanoi to end its "cruelty and barbarity". But of course, these are all lies, aren't they, Mr. Patterson?

Perhaps Mr Patterson will muster the courage to explain to our readers why he made no mention of communist atrocities in his report and why he ignored Hanoi's political prisoners, choosing instead to piously parrot its propaganda. We should not really be surprised at Patterson's behavior: Australia is probably the only Western country in which no left-winger has ever apologized for supporting Pol Pot or Hanoi's communist butchers.