Vietnam Record of John Kerry

I saw on Yahoo! this afternoon that President Bush has denounced the attack ads being published by the anti-Kerry group "Swift Boaters for Justice". I am glad to see the denouncement, though they don't appear to be as specific as I had hoped. These ads that attack the Vietnam service record of John Kerry have aggravated me.

Certainly, I acknowledge that it is possible that John Kerry "could" have lied about his service record, and that he "could" have unjustly received medals of honor. I just don't think that it is probable, given that there hasn't been any serious contention to his honors (to my knowledge) until this year, 30 years after the Vietnam war.

In theory, it is possible that anything and everything we know is actually untrue. This thought is unsettling, and probably at the root of why I am upset by the ads. There is nothing quite so unsettling as something that forces you to question what you believe in. If enough money is spent on tactics such as flashy ads, people can be convinced that Elvis is alive, that we never landed on the moon and that the holocaust never occurred.

The positive flip-side of questioning our beliefs is that once they successfully undergo the scrutiny, they become stronger and more immune to internal doubt. However, it is difficult to choose the evidence with which we decide to substantiate our beliefs, especially given the infinite number and variety of opinions, facts and other material masquerading as facts. Few people, myself included, have the time or energy to verify everything that we come into contact with. Furthermore, the verification itself usually leads to the same problem. How do we measure the truth of a statement or fact, when all statements or facts are seen as arbitrary? Some opinions and facts, we must simply take for face value, or we would go mad questioning everything. I think it is important to pick news sources, journalists and opinion providers that we trust. It is also a good idea to have a variety of sources from different philosophical perspectives. This reduces the chance that we are unduly influenced, without proper scrutiny, by one point of view.

This has been a digression away from the Kerry issue at hand, but I think it is an important topic. It is a topic that humanity has struggled with for millennia. In the Christian tradition, Pilate asks "What is truth"? His equivocalness is closer to my own feelings than I am comfortable with. I seem to have a fear, or perhaps an inherent distrust, of being "certain" of something. I am afraid to close the door on all other possibilities. Like everyone else, I don't want to believe in the wrong thing. I try to see my inquisitiveness as a gift from God. But, I sometimes feel that my mind would be more at peace if I simply believed without questioning. Of course, peace does not equal goodness, or morality.


Comments

RJ Schwarz said…
Kerry admitted writing his own combat records which muddies the issue of official records back Kerry's story the other guys just have hear-say. He's admitted he wasn't in Cambodia on Christmas and has been somewhat hazy about the story since. His diary entry from the day after his first purple heart indicates he hadn't been under fire yet.

It wasn't unheard of for folks to try to get Purple Hearts for minor wounds so they could get safely out of Vietnam. Personally I wouldn't blame him for that, but its not the actions of the hero we saw at the DNC.

There is more than a possibility that he lied on his service record. Kerry should release all of his health records immediately and end the speculation and double-guessing regarding his purple hearts at the minimum.
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