RAINBOW NATION NEWS
People, Let's Stop The War!
As part of the new U.S. Christmas-present bombings of North Vietnam, Thanh Hoa province was bombed once again. I remember Thanh Hoa very well; I was there in June, 1970 as a representative of the White Panther Party, along with Nancy Kurshan and Judy Gumbo, both Yippies. We had been invited by the North Vietnamese government through the Committee of Solidarity with American People.
It was the first time that the Vietnamese spent any time with freeks from the rainbow colony, and they wanted to understand everything about us and wanted us to understand them. We have the same enemy, and they feel much love for all American people. When I read in the paper that the U.S. dogs were attacking and bombing gentle Thanh Hoa again the fire burning inside grew a little brighter.
Thanh Hoa province is about 80 miles south of Hanoi, beautiful beyond description. The city of Thanh Hoa is on the coast, on the Gulf of Tonkin. I should explain that what is called a city in North Vietnam is barely equivalent to a village or small town in this country. Small white mud/brick buildings with palm-thatched roofs. The area was at one time one of the most popular for the French and American colonialists to come and enjoy the countryside and exploit the people. You can climb way up on the surrounding hills and see the remains of many bombed out resort buildings, hospitals and churches; none left standing complete.
The ocean water in the Gulf of Tonkin is warm for swimming and it was killer to get out of the hot jungle air and get refreshed. They warned us about swimming out too far, because the 7th Fleet had started to move back in and the the possibility of frogmen was imminent. We spent two afternoons on the beach, swimming talking; exchanging experiences and deep feelings with the local people. The hills around there were a favorite place of Ho Chi Min to come and be quiet when he got older. There is a temple at the highest point facing the Gulf, small with beautiful old painted holy statues, bombed along with everything else. On the climb up there were shells from old bombs lying beside the way, some whole, but de-activated. That area was one of he hardest hit in North Vietnam, a prime target for the imperialists whose tactics are to destroy in order to control.
The people who live there so simple it blew my mind. They survive mainly by collective fishing. They make their boats themselves from bamboo and other wood, and work socially, or socialistically. Dig it. Behind each group of boats in the trees is a small fishing hamlet, made up of fishing families. They go out to sea in groups. When one group goes, the other two help ta-e care of the families of the group that's out fishing, in case of any emergency, remember they go out in the Gulf of Tonkin, and have had to face the battleships of the 7th Fleet with only rifles on their backs, not to mention the natural hazards that could injure them so easily with such primitive technology. When they return they divide the fish among themselves according to their needs and pass on any tools, nets, or boats the next group might need for themselves and their families.
While we were there, close to everyone in the surrounding area came by to greet us and watch us talking and swimming, and we all felt really close. They gave us presents of small, sweot, watermelons. (In North Vietnam everything is organic, since the technology has not been perverted and misused as it has been here.) One thing that will forever stick in my mind about these tiny, delicate and so strong people (l'm 5' 6" and was probably one of the tallest people in the country at the time) is their readiness to face at all times whatever enemy might attack. When we were there the bombing had halted since 1968, but they were expecting it again at any moment, literally.
Vietnam is the far, far east, and it's very delicate and rugged at same time. On the one hand, watching the Sun set, in the darkening heat, or standing in the full light of the day near some mountains covered with colored flower trees, it was hard to think it was necessary for all the elaborate security and for all the people to be as prepared for attack as they were. But on the other hand, once you notice the land, once you see the holes in the land all over the place, for miles and miles, the bomb craters - when you see these reminders it's not too hard then to understand their constant readiness.
They have factories inside mountains to make machine parts. Watching someone work in a rice paddy with a rifle on her/his back was not uncommon at all. When we were in the mountains sitting in beautiful bamboo houses raised up off the ground to keep the tigers out (no more tigers though, they were all chased up north to China to seek refuge during the bombing) drinking coconut milk, and every once in a while someone would walk through with a rifle on their back, sometimes a young woman with a baby, too. There was nothing imposing about it at all. They simply were ready, waiting for this time that has come now - the resumption of the bombing of North Vietnam, their home. When I think of what I saw of anti-personnel bombs and napalm and then realize that it's happening again right now, my skin ciawls and the feelings I have are not expressable.
I keep remembering brother Pun, my closest partner, saying how we've got to make our entire lives as revolutionary as we can, from the food we eat to the music we listen to, to the way we relate to each other. And the Vietnamese, who kept repeating how they had learned that you had to do things step by step, to realize that things develop strong and true organically in stages, as part of a whole process. We can't possibly effect what's going on in Vietnam unless we can effect what's going on in our own country, in our own communities. We've got to change things here, because its what happens in our country that will finally determine what happens in the rest of the world.
Nixon, Laird, Mitchell, all have made it clear that they intend to ignore the will of the people of this country and continue the war. We keep wondering WHY they think they have to do these horrible things to people, why continue this atrocious war that nobody wants? And it becomes increasingly clear that they have definite economic interests to preserve. The relationship between the military and big business and politics in this country has lead directly to the development of war for war's sake, as we see happening now in Southeast Asia, where a beautiful people and countryside have become the testing and proving grounds for murderous, vicious weapons. Remember that the more bombs they drop and have to replace, the more defoliants they experiment with, the more money they make. That's what this war is all about; raking in the cash for Lockheed, Honeywell, General Motors, Bob Hope, John Wayne and Ronald Regan and the other major Amerikan corporations who profit off the war, and who are out to get the fantastic natural resources available in that part of the planet for their control, so they can exploit and plunder it. Time and time again the government of this country on all levels from local cities to county, state, federal, CIA et al, have gotten away with the most incredibly diabolical madness, from the conditions in the county jails to the tiger cage prisons and napalm of Vietnam, from the shooting of George Jackson to the shooting up of our sister Janis Joplin.
WE have to start in our own homes, in our every day lives, in our communities, to redefine our existence in our own terms, and create a whole new way of life. It is self-determination that we seek as rainbow people, just as the Indo-Chinese people seek self-determination as their own beautiful selves. We all need to figure out a way to live in harmony while retaining our unique identities, like the colors of the rainbow. We need to work step by step to build something strong and true like the tiny Vietnamese, who fight the most formidable enemy on the planet. We need to come together as the sisters and brothers we are.
PEOPLE, LET'S STOP THE WAR!
- Genie Plamondon, RPP
GENIE PLAMONDON, NANCY KURSHAN, JUDY GUMBO, N. VIETNAM, 1970