Monday, November 28, 2005

NPR Biased?

How hard is it to be fair? Over the weekend I heard an interesting "letters from listeners" segment on NPR. One listener was respondeding to what I guess was a debate between two Iraq veterans about the war in which the pro-Bush policy veteran argued that the "million" deaths in Vietnam following our pull out could be repeated in Iraq if we leave.

That listener questioned the "million deaths" figure.

NPR's host told listeners that the news organization followed up with its own research into the matter and that though reports to the number of deaths differed depending on the source, "none" reached one million. That was it! The host then left me hanging. How many did die? 100,000? 500,000? 1? NPR gave no answer.

So, I started looking for the answer. does not provide a count, though it does report that "The new unified Vietnamese government also took it upon themselves to punish the indigenous highland Montagnard tribes" and Between 1975 and 1978, the Vietnamese government carried out retributions against the highland tribes; imprisoning or executing nearly all prominent tribal leaders and confiscating fertile tribal lands for coffee plantations. Several human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, has called this an act of genocide."

That source adds that more than 2 million "boat people" fled Vietnam after Saigon's fall (I have met some of those people personally, their stories are heartbreaking).

Still, no numbers here.

More looking turned up an article in the National Review by a Vietnamese article that was published just two years after the fall of Saigon. That source cited 300,000 Vietnamese sent to "reeducation camps" and as many as 20,000 suicides ... but it is a right wing source, so the search cannot end.

This source, which summarizes deaths from all wars pegs the figure at 430,000. Can't tell how credible it is though.

I guess 400,000 is less than 1 million. It is still an appalling figure though.


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