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William Sloane Coffin Jr.A Holy Impatience$
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Warren Goldstein

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780300102215

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300102215.001.0001

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Wading into the Big Muddy

Wading into the Big Muddy

(p.145) Eight Wading into the Big Muddy
William Sloane Coffin Jr.

Warren Goldstein

Yale University Press

This chapter shows how Coffin shared disinterest in Vietnam with most Americans in the early 1960s. When editorialists or government officials mentioned the tiny nation that few Americans could even locate on a map, they generally invoked common, if inaccurate, Cold War pieties. “Communist guerillas” supported by “outsiders” threatened a “democratic ally” whose “freedom and independence” were vital to American interests. That this analysis served to describe the Philippines, Laos, Indonesia, or any number of other countries facing alleged “internal subversion” made it more readily deployed by officialdom, and more easily swallowed by the general public. This inattention to the realities of individual countries with distinct histories eventually proved extremely costly.

Keywords:   editorialists, Vietnam, government officials, Cold War pieties, communist guerillas

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