Michael Hyde’s excerpt from his memoir All Along the Watchtower (Vulgar Press) in Overland 199 is a tale fraught with intrigue, radical student politics and the tension surrounding the Vietnam War in Australia. But don’t take our word for it; see for yourself:
Headquarters ASIO HQT 67/972
Michael Dudley HYDE
Enquiries conducted by this Office have revealed that the Michael HYDE who resides at 7 Jasmine Street Caulfield and who is an active member of the Monash University Labour Club and the Monash Committee for Aid to the National Liberation Front is probably identical with
Michael Dudley HYDE
Born: 20th November, 1945
At: Waverley, New South Wales
The heart of it was this: we set out to aid the enemy by collecting money for the National Liberation Front of Southern Vietnam.
I sat in the middle of the lecture room, the usual place for the Monash Labor Club weekly meetings. One of the larger lecture halls, it was packed, standing room only. A wonderful collection of students wearing jeans, tights, leather jackets, miniskirts, caps and suits sat squashed onto sprung vinyl seats or cross-legged in the aisles. Some were there because they’d heard about our proposed sedition and didn’t want to miss the excitement. Others – ALP supporters, mostly – wanted to voice their opposition but thought our support for the NLF over the top, liable to drive people away from the movement. A few sat goggle-eyed, along for the ride but with little or no idea what was about to happen. And then the rest, the majority – smiling, watchful, on the edge of their seats – intent on taking the fight a big step further.
It was, we thought, no use simply condemning the war and demanding our government stop its hostilities. If the US was the aggressor then it was logical to support the victims of that aggression: the Vietnamese people and their government, the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF), often referred to as the Viet Cong.
Amy opened proceedings. She said she’d received a letter that she wanted to share. She’d spoken to the press; here was the first response.
Dear Mrs. Amy, (slut)
You should be rooted and burnt. Sluts like you should be locked up. If ever I see you at Monash or anywhere for that matter I will personally cut your bloody throat, you wouldn’t even make a good whore for the Abbo’s [sic.]. Our blokes are being killed overseas while you, you harlot are sending the Viet-Cong money. I write to you on shit paper to a bit of shit.