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TPM in making a point about Pete Hoekstra pointed me to this article by Kevin Baker in Harper's entitled Stabbed in the Back: The Past and Future of a Rightwing Myth. Below is a brief summary. I don't think I can do any better than Baker, so read the article for youself.  

Keep in mind this is what we can look forward to and apparantly truth alone is not enough to counter it. Keep this in mind when the GOP tells you the NY Times commits treason everytime it publishes an article exposing erosions of civil liberties, or when someone asks why Lamont over Joe "we criticize the president at our peril" Lieberman. The ground work is being laid.  

It is a history of the GOP "stabbed in the back" strategy. The simplified version of the origin of the theory is after losing World War I, some Germans militarists blamed their loss on being stabbed in the back by the civilian government and that this theory was adopted by the Nazi's and transformed into Jews in the government stabbed the Germans in the back.

The Harper's article discusses the origins of the myth and its adoption by the GOP's right wing beginning as far back as Yalta. Even as a young teen, I recognized the historical parallel in how some were claming the United States were blaming the loss in Vietnam on liberals, hippies, Democrats. Like many others, I fully expect Iraq to be substituted for Vietnam with bloggers being substituted for hippies in this story of how Iraq really wasn't a rightwing FUBAR nightmare. However, I never appreciated how long the GOP wingnuts have been using this myth and how versatile it is until I read Baker's article.  

Originally posted to molly bloom on Sat Jul 15, 2006 at 08:13 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wikipedia has an entry (7+ / 0-)

    on the Dolchstoßlegende legend for those who care to read other sources.

    "Once in a while you get shown the light In the strangest of places if you look at it right"

    by molly bloom on Sat Jul 15, 2006 at 08:11:32 AM PDT

  •  Self pity = the super meme (4+ / 0-)

    It's hard to fight the self-pity meme. That's why everyone from  Hutus to Serbians to Republican angry white men cling to it.

    "We were betrayed" and "we were stabbed in the back" are stereotypical Hitler self-pity lines.

    I saw General Schwarzkopf on TV last year talking about how Vietnam was lost by the media, and liberals.
    (BTW, I was alive back then. It's not true.)

    How do we fight it. Right now, maybe "sign up or shut up"--since no on is stopping them from enlisting.

    In the future...I don't know; but hopefully, we will think of something.

  •  Interesting implication (7+ / 0-)

    If the Republicans are already planning on blaming Democrats for losing Iraq, they are already admitting among themselves that Iraq is lost. Sad.

  •  Re 'hippies' (6+ / 0-)

    That term went back into circulation in 2002 when the administration started beating the drums for war in Iraq.

    Why? The reason is simple. Those in power were using Iraq to rewrite the history of the Vietnam war, and for exactly the reasons molly explained in her diary.

    For the Fox News and Rush crowd (some of whom hadn't lived through the Sixties), "hippie" is a powerful symbol of people who (1) distrust authority, especially when people in uniforms are involved: (2) deviate from traditional gender roles; and (3) aren't blindly loyal to their race, religion, or country at the expense of people in general. That kind of free-thinking is something the Right can't tolerate.

    "We must not let the terrorists win under any circumstances by changing and being fearful."--Ian Blair, London's police commissioner.

    by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Sat Jul 15, 2006 at 08:50:01 AM PDT

    •  Hoo boy -- the layers of meaning in all that (3+ / 0-)

      The Viet Nam experience, as you say, colors and clouds our thinking even now.

      The de-humanization of the opposition is time-honored homo sapiens behavior.

      The presence at the helm today of Cheney and Rumsfeld, who were right there fuming when Nixon went to his richly deserved defeat, is chilling indeed in this light.

      Having been one of those hippies back then, I'm fighting the impulse to crawl under the covers now. I know we're needed on the barricades, though, and that's where I will be.

      Talk doesn't cook rice -- Chinese Proverb
      Lingua Politica

      by OldYellerDog on Sat Jul 15, 2006 at 09:16:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There was a bizarre anti-hippy South Park episode (2+ / 0-)

        And it was not a satire. Instead, it was a straight out play on the fears of the stereotype.

        An anti-meme of this. Change "hippy" to "beatnik"--as in a LTE I wrote to my local paper where I snarked about flag burning legislation, "...thanks a lot for making the world safe from beatniks..."

        Beatnik is an old enough term that it shows how silly the the fear-of-hippies thing is.

        •  And before that, Bohemians (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Southern Son

          The stereotype is at least 150 years old. In its mid-19th century form, it was associated with radicals who congregated in coffeehouses. Coffee was the marijuana of the day, and there was serious talk of banning the demon bean.

          "We must not let the terrorists win under any circumstances by changing and being fearful."--Ian Blair, London's police commissioner.

          by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Sat Jul 15, 2006 at 09:32:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  It was odd... (3+ / 0-)

      when the name hippie resurfaced. Wingnuts were using it as if it were some kind of insult they can hurt us with. I'm going huh?

      There was no shame in being a hippy, none at all, unless you were proud to be a redneck. So as far as I'm concerned those trying to use it as one just looked foolish. Most of the wingers using it didn't even understand what being a hippie was all about. Many were just too young.

      But, stupid as they are, they were just following the playbook they'd been handed.

  •  Thanks for the diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    molly bloom, taylormattd, ama

    Great citation -- I'll be circulating the article.

    Talk doesn't cook rice -- Chinese Proverb
    Lingua Politica

    by OldYellerDog on Sat Jul 15, 2006 at 08:52:02 AM PDT

  •  Recommended (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chingchongchinaman, ama

    The Harpers article is amazing.  I forwarded it to many people.

    •  I think all of our Democratic Congresscritters (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      taylormattd

      should read it!  It is very powerful and extremely well researched and written.

      Everyone here at DK should read it too.  Do you think mcjoan or another of the frontpagers should emphasize it?

  •  Just makes you realize and understand (4+ / 0-)

    how much of Republican policy and worldview is dependent on their perception of, and need for, a "clear and present danger".  They need enemies, in order for their policies to succeed.  They need their base living in fear and it doesn't really matter who plays the part of the bogeyman.

    Obviously it will start out being the foreign enemies identified in whatever war the Republicans are trying to start at the time.  Then, because Republicans are notoriously bad at choosing enemies and constantly seek to engage in land wars in Asia, which we all know you should never do, they start losing the war.  And because it damages the fragile Republican psyche to lose a war, they have to start blaming someone else.  

    Clearly, they don't want to blame the actual enemy, because that would be to acknowledge that we are being beaten, and of course America doesn't lose wars.  So instead, Republicans seek to create a different enemy who can be blamed for whatever misfortune America is suffering in the ill-advised Asian land war.  Always the easiest go-to model is the core of people who were against the war in the first place.  The fact that they didn't cheer and clap loud enough makes them a greater enemy than whatever enemy the Republicans had first identified to recklessly incite on land in Asia.

    Oh yes, we bloggers are certainly going to get the blame for "losing" Iraq.  The trouble for Republicans this go around is that we have a powerful means to defend ourselves against this convenient slander that we've never had before -- the very blog I'm typing on right now.

    I don't think they'll get it to stick this time.  This time, we are going to get it to stick to them.

    •  Bogeyman and the The Power of Nightmares (2+ / 0-)

      how much of Republican policy and worldview is dependent on their perception of, and need for, a "clear and present danger".  They need enemies, in order for their policies to succeed.  They need their base living in fear and it doesn't really matter who plays the part of the bogeyman.

      If you haven't see this BBC production: The Power of Nightmares I reccomend it.

      "Once in a while you get shown the light In the strangest of places if you look at it right"

      by molly bloom on Sat Jul 15, 2006 at 09:57:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have, and you're right. (0+ / 0-)

        It's an excellent piece of work and I second molly's recommendation.  It's absolutely enlightening.  It gives me pleasure to say I know a couple of people who worked on it and the quality and insight of these people really shows in the work.

      •  Funny you mention that (0+ / 0-)

        We just got a direct-mail piece from one of the Republican Senate candidates who blamed our Democratic senator for not doing anything to break up the terrorist plot uncovered in Canada (we live in southeast Michigan). A blatant appeal to fear of terrorism. When will security moms--and dads--see through the BS?

        "We must not let the terrorists win under any circumstances by changing and being fearful."--Ian Blair, London's police commissioner.

        by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Sat Jul 15, 2006 at 10:29:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Throwing the term back at Repukes (0+ / 0-)

    Hmm, let's see, a list of Republican backstabbers:

    Karl Rove, Lewis Libbey, Dick Cheney: backstabbers of Joe Wilson & Valerie Plame

    Joe Lieberman: back-stabbing a fellow Democrat, Ned Lamont

    Anyone want to add to the list?

    "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

    by chingchongchinaman on Sat Jul 15, 2006 at 10:13:18 AM PDT

  •  thanks for the link... (0+ / 0-)

    ...to the utterly fascinating article.

    i think it's interesting that baker doesn't mention the first gulf war. i believe that war was highly orchestrated by the right wing to change the american mindset that war is hell. that staging of military supremacy was a crucial part of the republican propaganda machine, but it backfired starting the day after bush's famous "mission accomplished" photo op because everybody realized pretty quickly that nothing was accomplished.

    seems to me, the rightwing is slowly dying of a self-inflicted wound.

    The radical invents views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them. - Mark Twain

    by FemiNazi on Sat Jul 15, 2006 at 12:45:26 PM PDT

  •  The stab-in-the-back legend (0+ / 0-)

    Aka Dolchstosslegende.

    A specialty of the authoritarian right. It's their favorite hate myth.

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