- Published: 06 November 2014 06 November 2014
By Rod Such
Ads began appearing on Portland buses last week that read, "Israel's War Crimes, Your Tax Dollars at Work." The ads show a photo of a Palestinian woman sitting in the rubble of her bombed-out Gaza home. I helped pay for this ad, and I want Portland residents to know why.
Almost 44 years ago to the day, fresh out of college and just starting a career as a journalist, a friend and I watched CBS correspondent Mike Wallace interview Private Paul Meadlo on "60 Minutes." Meadlo participated in the massacre of Vietnamese men, women and children in My Lai village during the Vietnam War. Wallace asked Meadlo if his combat unit killed babies. The transcript reads, "Q. And babies?" Meadlo answered, "And babies."
After the interview, my friend David commented, "If we don't do something to end this war, we'll be just like the 'good Germans' who pretended they knew nothing about the Holocaust." His remark resonated with me, and I resolved to get involved in the antiwar movement. Weeks went by, however, and I did nothing. Then one morning, on my way to work, I saw a billboard ad, a photograph of the bodies of the My Lai villagers — men, women and infants — heaped in a pile with the words: "Q. And babies? A. And babies."
I knew then that I was not going to be able to escape this daily reminder that my own government was committing war crimes. I was not going to be able to go about my day-to-day business without confronting this awful fact. That ad changed my life in a way because I soon quit my job and went to work full-time for the antiwar movement.