Remember all that political hay the far left and its media allies made during the Vietnam War about the wickedness of America’s South Vietnamese ally and the importance of abandoning that country to the communists?
Here’s the Pulitzer Prize–winning AP photo that was supposed to prick our consciences and make us turn against that “immoral” war against a communist takeover:
There’s no doubt about it, the photo is hard to look at. It’s crude, rough, wartime justice, a picture of South Vietnamese Police Captain Nguyễn Ngọc Loan coldly executing Viet Cong Captain Nguyễn Văn Lém. The film is even harder to look at.
It ran on the front page of the New York Times, cropped from the original to fill the space and make its impact even more immediate.
And it got the results the anti-war left wanted: public sentiment abruptly turned against the war as a result of this photo. The Vietnamese people were abandoned by the Americans, whose cut-and-run evacuation from the Saigon embassy rooftop was only recently bested by Joe Biden’s Afghanistan pullout. After that, the re-education camps rolled in, the boat people launched into the high seas, and the killing fields of Cambodia began.
Jane Fonda must have been so proud of herself.
Just one problem, though: The context was missing, and that context mattered.
The guy who got shot, who went by the nom de guerre Bay Lop, was a death squad psychopath in the Viet Cong who had just gotten done massacring 34 innocent people.
According to GroovyHistory:
From January to September 1968, North Vietnamese forces launched a coordinated series of attacks on more than 100 cities and towns in South Vietnam, proof that American forces had failed to quash the guerilla combatants. Death squads made their way through the cities, killing anyone who wasn’t joining their revolution.
Captured in a building in the Cho Lon quarter of Saigon, Nguyễn Văn Lém was a member of the Viet Cong whose downfall began in the Tet Offensive. Allegedly Lém was arrested for cutting the throats of South Vietnamese Lt Col Nguyen Tuan, his wife, their six children and the officer’s 80-year-old mother. On top of that, he was leading a Viet Cong team whose whole deal was taking out members of the National Police and their families.
A the time of his death, Lém should have been considered a prisoner of war under the Geneva Convention, but because he was dressed in civilian clothing and he wasn’t carrying a firearm, he was technically seen as an “illegal combatant.”
During the Tet Offensive, Lém was on a bloodthirsty tear through Saigon. He may look boyish, but he had the heart of a killer. The photo shows Lém handcuffed and in civilian clothing, but he was operating a death squad that had killed 34 that same day.
He allegedly took out seven police officers, multiple members of their families, and even a few Americans. Each victim was bound by their wrists and shot in the back of the head, execution style.
Because he wasn’t wearing the outfit of a solider this put him in a bad scenario. As a person committing war crimes he was in a bad way, especially with General Loan coming after him. Not only had he carried out a gruesome act, but he was eligible for immediate execution.
Wikipedia notes that maybe this didn’t happen the way these facts say it happened. A leftist professor quoted on Wikipedia said:
In 2018, author Max Hastings detailed the allegations against Lém, adding that American historian Ed Moise “is convinced that the entire story of Lém murdering the Tuân family is a post-war invention” and that “The truth will never be known.”
Now that revisionist history is falling apart.
The Daily Mail found an admiral in the U.S. Navy, who was a tiny sole survivor of that massacre.
He was a little Vietnamese boy at the time who watched as this psychopath shot civilian after civilian including his entire family. He survived by playing dead and eventually made his way to America to becomee an American citizen, joining the U.S. Navy, and rising to the rank of admiral.
According to the Mail:
Bay Lop, the subject in the photo, had been executed in Saigon after carrying out the mass murder of Huan Nguyen’s father — South Vietnamese Lt. Col. Nguyen Tuan, along with the officer’s wife, mother, and six of his children, five boys and one girl.
Huan Nguyen, managed to survive despite being shot three times through the arm, thigh, and skull. The youngster stayed with his mother’s dead body for two hours following the cold-blooded murder according to Military.com.
When night fell, Nguyen then escaped managing to avoid the communist guerrillas, and went to live with his uncle, a colonel in the South Vietnamese Air Force.
There’s no disputing the facts of what happened to him, which pretty well puts paid to the nutty leftist professor’s claims, and there’s no excusing the behavior of the anti-war left, which used this child’s family’s murder to sell the first great bug-out of America on its allies for the purpose of spreading communism. The press, which acted pretty much in the same dishonest manner as it does today, was amazingly dishonest in its presentation of its “narrative,” particularly at the editorial level.
Now we learn that a brave survivor exists from that terrible incident, and the badness of America suddenly wasn’t so bad. The bad guy, in fact, was the communist Viet Cong “captain” who was a mass murderer not at all different from the Las Vegas spray shooter.
It’s amazing what the press got away with on that one. And it serves as a reminder that pictures can be distorted and manipulated without context, without even Photoshop. While the photographer, Eddie Adams, was blameless, as he was just doing his job, the way the photo was presented, by broadcasters and newspaper editors, was not. This is one sorry incident that the left got away with. They showered their Pulitzers and watched the protests begin. One only wonders what the little kid who survived the massacre to become an admiral must have thought. Now that it’s out that he survived this psychopath, his life is living testimony to that reality.