Opinion

Defending the SwiftVets rights

In the Sept. 1 issue of this paper, David Olson wrote a letter claiming disgust for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (www.swiftvets.com). If Olson managed to do anything in his 550-word letter (I thought we were limited to 450 words?), it was to completely miss the point, take a journey into the land of speculation and make-believe and anger at least one veteran.

The real point of the SwiftVets is whether or not Kerry has been truthful in his accounts of events that led to his receipt of medals. Another point is that Kerry later threw away some of these medals (somewhere between six and nine were thrown away, by Kerry's account), medals that Kerry now makes a central part of his campaign.

Olson attempted to tie the SwiftVets to the Bush campaign. I guess that's like linking Michael Moore's movie to the Kerry campaign. Moore was at the Democratic Convention and has donated money to Kerry's campaign. Or perhaps Olson would like to discuss the organization MoveOn.org (a 527-member group that attacks Bush and has raised more money than SwiftVet) and where their donations have come from? If Olson wants to shut the SwiftVets up, he needs to be equally outraged at the Michael Moore and MoveOn.org.

Olson goes on to speculate as to why Kerry morphed from Vietnam war hero with four months of service in-country, to Vietnam protester throwing away medals. Olson has a "guess" that Kerry, like Olson, did research and study about the origins of the war. Kerry never mentions this. Instead Kerry describes war crimes allegedly committed by fellow Americans, and then throws away his medals. Olson condemns the SwiftVets as "wacko" men who have never left Vietnam. These "wackos" served their country on swift boats, just like Kerry, but didn't leave their comrades behind after four months. If Kerry gains any credibility by being a swift boat veteran, then so do these men who spent more time in Vietnam than he did.

I am a 29-year-old veteran who served more than five years in the military. I may or may not agree with what SwiftVets say, but I will fight to the death for their right to say it. I think most readers would agree with me on this, not Olson. The fact is, most of us don't sit behind a booth at a fair and blindly support all Democrat candidates. Instead, we like to hear both sides of an issue, with full disclosure, and then we choose. We tend to be suspicious when partisans like Olson want to shut someone up.

Elliott Johnson

North Bend

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