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Frances FitzGerald

  • To one people the war would appear each day, compressed between advertisements and confined to a small space in the living room; the explosion of bombs and the cries of the wounded would become the background accompaniment to dinner. For the other people the war would come one day out of a clear blue sky. In a few minutes it would be over: the bombs, released by an invisible pilot with incomprehensible intentions, would leave only the debris and the dead behind.

  • Americans ignore history, for to them everything has always seemed new under the sun. The national myth is that of creativity and progress, of a steady climbing upward into power and prosperity, both for the individual and for the country as a whole. Americans see history as a straight line and themselves standing at the cutting edge of it as representatives for all mankind. They believe in the future as if it were a religion; they believe that there is nothing they cannot accomplish, that solutions wait somewhere for all problems, like brides.

  • Americans live in a society of replacement parts — in theory anyone can become President or sanitation inspector ...

  • ... many Americans persisted in thinking of the Vietnamese conflict as a civil war, as a battle between two fixed groups of people with different but conceivably negotiable interests. But the regional conflict existed only within the context of a larger struggle that resembled a series of massive campaigns of conversion involving all the people in the country and the whole structure of society.

  • Intellectual freedom, of course, implies intellectual diversity.

  • The United States was not going into Vietnam merely for crass power objectives, but for the salvation of the Vietnamese, who like the majority of mankind, lived in poverty and ignorance. ... Surely, the leader of no other nation would have made such a pledge in the midst of a war. No other leader would have expected his countrymen to take it as anything but a cynical gesture.

Frances FitzGerald, U.S. journalist

(1940)