Derek Catsam ’93 has started a raucous discussion on the Kerry versus Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) controversy at his other blog.

I would suspect that part of the reason we have been so quiet on Rebunk of late is that the presidential campaign, a topic obviously close to all three of us, has recently devolved into a rather unseemly war of words over John Kerry’s Vietnam service, a war of words into which Tom, Steve, and I have simply not wanted to become involved. But I do not want silence on my part to constitute an implication of apathy.

I am astounded that Republicans are going on the attack to impugn Kerry’s service.

In the comment section, Derek accuses the SBVT folks and their supporters of “vitriolic lies.” He asserts that:

You are not willing to condemn ads, books, interviews that lie. That lie outright. That so warp and misrepresent the truth as to be useful for nothing other than partisan gain. It just happens that your party is benefitting, thus, apparently, the silence.

I am no historian (!), but this seems over the top. I don’t think that everything that SBVT claim is a lie. In particular, their claim that Kerry has misrepresented his Chistmas visit to Cambodia (see page 17ff of this pdf) seems well-supported. See here and here for other commentary in the blogosphere.

My claim is not that everything that the SBVT is the truth, nor that Kerry shouldn’t be President, nor that this whole controversy really matters. My point is that Derek is setting a bad example for future Eph historians everwhere. Does he have any evidence that the SBVT are lying about Kerry’s service in Cambodia and his representations of that service?

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