The impact of the white veteran victim symbol post-Vietnam.
"If war among the whites brought peace and liberty to the blacks," Frederick Douglass asked in 1875, peering into the nation's future, "what will peace among the whites bring?" The answer then and now, after the Civil War and civil rights, is a white reunion disguised as a veterans' reunion.
How White Men Won the Culture Wars shows how a broad contingent of white men––conservative and liberal, hawk and dove, vet and non-vet––transformed the Vietnam War into a staging ground for a post–civil rights white racial reconciliation. Conservatives could celebrate white vets as deracinated embodiments of the nation. Liberals could treat them as minoritized heroes whose voices must be heard. Erasing Americans of color, Southeast Asians, and women from the war, white men argued that they had suffered and deserved more. The war became a vehicle for claiming entitlements and grievances after civil rights and feminism, in an age of color blindness and multiculturalism. From the POW/MIA and veterans' mental health movements to Rambo and "Born in the U.S.A.," white men remade their racial identities in the image of the Vietnam vet. No one wins in a culture war—except, Joseph Darda argues, white men dressed in army green.