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Debate Tuesday: Illegal Immigration, The Bush Plan

December 13, 2005

Guest: Martha Zoller, radio talk show host and author of Indivisible: Uniting Values for a Divided America. Her website is

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  • Genocide, or what? December 27, 2005 1:42 pm

    Invading the Stone Age
    Our mission was to help the Montagnards; but the first thing we did was destroy one of their villages. They just watched, standing idly by in loincloths and apparent disbelief as the army engineers bulldozed a battalion-sized fire-base where their community of grass and bamboo-stilted hut-homes once was.
    Our company was standing down from a month when we had registered the highest kill-count in the division. Now we were supposed to be merchants of good-will for these highland-mountain people. This “Chieu-Hoi” mission was a lifer idea to be coordinated with the ARVNs and took us north to Song Be near the Cambodian border, along the imaginary II Corps-III Corps border.
    But now we witnessed the culture clash of half-naked savages greeting G.I.s who were infiltrating the Montagnard version of the Stone Age that still survived in the 20th century.
    The women of this particular tribe of Montagnards were as topless as the men and unabashedly disposed to exposing their bare breasts as well as their black-enameled nubs for teeth that still remained from their chewing of the betel leaf that, we were told, gave them a cocaine-like high. The Montagnards thought the women’s blackened dental remains were a sign of beauty. But whenever the Montagnard women smiled, whatever allure they conjured to the G.I.s with their naked bosoms and rich, dark-brown skin, was counteracted by their foul-appearing oral display.
    I was amazed at how docilely and matter-of-factly the Montagnards reacted to the upheaval that was happening all around them. They just stood and watched their village get destroyed. The next day, the Montagnards moved a few clicks away and began making a new village. Some Montagnards even stayed in their hootches that were just outside the wire of the newly-constructed G.I. landing zone.
    Economically the Montagnards adapted, too. The G.I.s traded food with the women and children for goods and services. Most every sandbag of the new fire-base was filled by Montagnards; and most of the G.I.s were soon wearing Montagnard necklaces and/or bracelets.
    I admired how unobtrusive and unassuming a people the Montagnards appeared to be; they seemed to have a silent strength about them. The women now had to walk further to their water-point in the morning, carrying large vase-like jars in large baskets strapped to their backs, or even balancing the jars on their heads; and they did their newly-more-difficult chore, stoically.
    The Montagnards were very industrious; they quickly learned to live off of what the G.I.s threw away. They salvaged and rewashed edible G.I. garbage, and then ate it themselves. The G.I. garbage dump was a haven of wonder to them; the Montagnards utilized most everything that the Americans discarded.
    A Montagnard man made a functional wagon out of a cardboard, C-ration case, circular gas-canister lids for wheels, baling wire for axles; and gave it to his son, to the little boy’s glee.
    Our company helped build and helped watch the new fire-base be built for about seven days before we charlie-alphaed out several clicks to our “Chieu-Hoi” mission. We set up a company-sized NDP on some high ground in a jungle area where, we were told, a Montagnard village was nearby. A South Vietnamese advisor used a loud-speaker to blare out music and a spoken message at regular intervals.
    I felt uneasy; we were violating the first rule of combat by giving our position away. “But if it’s just VC we’re dealin’ with,” I thought. “Maybe we can get away with it.”
    We were told the Montagnards here were starving to death because the VC were stealing their food and livestock, mainly pigs. The “Chieu-Hoi” message said that if they came out of the jungle, the Montagnards would be given food, medicine, and be relocated to a safe place.
    I felt that, finally, we were doing something good.
    One day of loud-speaking went by, with no tangible results. We stayed near our perimeter, ate Cs, wrote letters, cleaned weapons, and pretty-much goofed-off the way grunts in the bush do, when they don’t have to hump. We even pretended not to be annoyed by the constant oriental music and Vietnamese chatter that was blaring in our ears.
    The night was still a night in the boonies and we played it close-to-the-cuff, especially knowing our position was blown.
    The second day we still had no Montagnard takers; but on the third day some started straggling out of the jungle canopy in one’s and two’s and two’s and three’s, some carried on crudely-built stretchers. They certainly looked like they were starving and sick.
    We called in some slicks and flew them away, to where we didn’t know; but it had to be better than where they were.
    We stayed two more days at that position and flew out 20-some more Montagnards. We never knew how many didn’t leave; we never even went into their village. We just choppered out and went to the fire-base for more rear-duty.
    Three days later my platoon choppered to a recon a couple clicks from the fire-base. In the heat of high noon, we came upon a flat jungle valley that had many rectangular mounds spread around the area. Lt. Hunter thought we had discovered a cache. He called back a slick to kick out some picks and long-handled shovels. We peeled off our shirts and started digging.
    Pretty soon we started finding things. We found bodies, some pretty-badly decomposed; they were Montagnard. We had six bodies unearthed before I said something to Hunter, “C’mon L-T, it’s a fuckin’ graveyard.”
    “Could be rice, ammo, and weapons here, too,” replied Lt. Hunter. “Keep digging.”
    SP4 Sommers picked up a body by its arm and the body fell away. He threw the arm that was partially bone, flesh, and worms back into the mud of the damp bottom-land. “Fuck,” he said. “Give me an Article 15…I’m done diggin’.”
    As the afternoon wore on, the platoon’s efforts produced 13 foul-smelling, semi-decomposed bodies and associated body parts, but no rice, ammo, weapons, or enemy contraband. It was close to dusk when Lt. Hunter finally called off the scavenger hunt.
    We were hot, sweaty, muddy, and pissed off as we left the valley, headed for a clearing and the birds that would take us back to the fire-base.
    We left the Montagnard corpses uncovered, lying askew, strewn about in bits and pieces by their defiled graves.
    I got on a chopper smelling of the stench of the mud that was clinging to me, mixing with the sweat of my torso. Lt. Hunter sat next to me on the floor of the Huey.
    “Zombies ‘R Us,” I yelled at him over the rotor roar, with a deadpan stare.
    Within a week we were deployed south to enemy sanctuaries in Cambodia to engage the NVA. I left the Song Be AO thinking we had at least helped the poor Montagnards who had straggled out of the jungle in response to our “Chieu-Hoi” mission.
    It wasn’t until a couple years later, when I was back in the world watching a TV news documentary that I was informed that those Montagnards we allegedly rescued were given to South Vietnamese authorities and put in tiger-cages from which the Montagnards were trying to escape and return to where they had previously fled.
    Somehow the nonsense of that whole “Chieu-Hoi” scenario suddenly made sense, in a horrible, ludicrous way.
    Thirty-some years later there is a world-class golf course in Song Be, and the Montagnards…I don’t know where the Montagnards are.

  • The Immigrant December 17, 2005 10:18 am

    Felice Navidad!!!

  • sean December 17, 2005 1:26 am

    Just some random thoughts, probably better suited to post on a conservative blog:
    George’s new found interest in immigration is only to address the 23% Rep approval rating on immigration. He doesn’t really have a plan to address it. His plans are designed to look as though they are doing something, without effectively changing anything.
    What SHOULD be done to address immigration?
    a – Keep boarder SEALED. IE boarder security is a resource issue – we would allocate the resources necessary to do the job. We would seal the boarder, George will not.
    b – We will process the unlawful. We will implement immediate laws and allocate special prosecutors, agents, accountants, law enforcement personnel, and local administrators. We will convert those we can to US citizenship, enroll those we can into Naturalization process, and export those few remainder that are either a security risk or have criminal disqualifications. We would not turn our back on the responsibility of addressing this issue.
    c – Streamline the immigration process for the eligible. If a person shows the aptitude to be an American, than we should have a process in place so that person can pursue the American dream.