Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Week 8 - Zoua Nikki Thao

"Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam," by Fred Wilcox examines the use of the heavily used pesticide, Agent Orange, during the Vietnam War. Not only does Wilcox discuss the grave consequences of using this toxic chemical, he also emphasizes the need for a re-examination of the war crime it was, and still is to the people of Vietnam. The history of the United States practicing "scorched earth" goes back to colonial times when European colonizers would not only massacre Indigenous peoples, but burn their crops and destroy their livestock as well. America seems to always be the leader of implementing new, inhumane and catastrophic war tactics (i.e. atomic bombs being dropped in Nagasaki and Hiroshima was the first time the world had seen such a thing). This history of the United States' war tactics, meant to annihilate peoples and nations, adds to Wilcox's argument of seeing the use of Agent Orange for the war crime and ecocide/genocide that it actually is.

The effects of Agent Orange are prevalent and visible today as we look not only at the landscape of Vietnam, but at the people of Vietnam as well. Mothers continue to have traces of the pesticide in their breast milk. All women, men and children have birth defects, primarily affecting their limbs and heads. America has chosen many times to not own up to its irregular, brutal use of Agent Orange, despite seeing the lasting effects it has on Vietnam. As usual, the "victors" in war do not clean up the mess they have made; Agent Orange is an example of this. I personally believe that United States seeks to forget this, and it's easy for the American public to forget because Vietnam seems so far away. But, what about what is happening right here in our own backyards? What about the use of pesticides in California's very own central valley (an agricultural gold mine)? Doesn't seem so far away now, does it?

"Earlimart, CA. March 7, 2008
Josefina Miranda shows her daughter how she protects herself when she works in the fields. When Miranda was four months pregnant with an earlier child, she and her co-workers were put to work in a field still wet with pesticides. By the time they left, her clothes were so soaked that she could wring the pesticides out of them. She miscarried the next day." 

"Photos." Voices from the Valley. N.p., 17 Aug. 2012. Web. 27 Feb. 2017 <http://www.voicesfromthevalley.org/photos/#7>.

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