WaPo Corrects Itself: Nathan Phillips Didn't Fight in Vietnam
Print Friendly and PDF

Earlier:"Tribal Elder" Nathan Phillips, Vietnam ERA Vet, Not Actual Vietnam Veteran...Of Course

The Washington Post issues a correction to its influential story that claimed that leftist activist Nathan Phillips fought in the Vietnam War:


In defense of Nathan Phillips, he was too young to serve in Vietnam.

Also, my impression is that he hasn’t exactly claimed to have fought in Vietnam, just to have served in “Vietnam times,” which is a reasonable approximation of the legal term “Vietnam Era Veteran,” which goes up to the spring of 1975 and covers anybody who was in the U.S. military anywhere in the world. Some sources seem to quote him as claiming to have served in the war, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was an ignorant reporter trying to clean up a redundant sounding (but important) term like “Vietnam times.”

Of course, he didn’t seem in too much of a hurry to clear up the media misperception.

But if he really was in the Marines from 1972-1976, this is much less bad than, say, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who not only never served in Vietnam, but who joined the Marines Reserve to get out of being drafted into the military and being sent to Vietnam, but then seemed to try to get voters to think he had been Rambo himself.

Strikingly, Indian Country Today back on January 19 got the Nathan Phillips service story right right in the caption at the top of its first article:

Nathan Phillips, Omaha, is a Vietnam-era Veteran who hosts a sacred pipe ceremony at Arlington, was taunted in D.C.

You don’t BS an American Indian publication about military service. Indians tend to know about and care about these kind of complex distinctions, much more so than Culture War reporters at mainstream sites.

No doubt the Washington Post, as the federal government’s Company Town newspaper, employs somebody who knows all about technical Veteran Affairs issues like this, but he or she isn’t out reporting the latest breaking White Boy Bad story.

I tweeted my best guess at the probability distribution a couple of days ago:

I would have made the odds that he just made up the part about being in the Marines higher because people who have some kind of fundraising racket going on about being a vet often are complete Stolen Valor types. But I’m a big believer in ethnic stereotypes. Nathan Phillips looks a lot more Indian than many people in the Indian activist business, and real American Indians volunteer for the military at quite a high rate.

[Comment at Unz.com]

Print Friendly and PDF