Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Stabbed In The Back

Kevin Baker was on Air America's Majority Report with Sam Seder last night. Kevin wrote an interesting analysis of the right wings' rise to power after WW2. It was in Harper's Magazine this past June. It's called, "Stabbed In The Back." In "Gangs Of New York," Liam Neeson has a similar fate. Baker's "Paradise Alley," though fiction, provides a more accurate portrayal of the events of the clash of cultures in NYC circa 1850
Here's a portion of the article-you can get it all at harpers.org/StabbedInTheBack
"Every state must have its enemies. Great powers must have especially monstrous foes. Above all, these foes must arise from within, for national pride does not admit that a great nation can be defeated by any outside force. That is why, though its origins are elsewhere, the stab in the back has become the sustaining myth of modern American nationalism. Since the end of World War II it has been the device by which the American right wing has both revitalized itself and repeatedly avoided responsibility for its own worst blunders. Indeed, the right has distilled its tale of betrayal into a formula: Advocate some momentarily popular but reckless policy. Deny culpability when that policy is exposed as disastrous. Blame the disaster on internal enemies who hate America. Repeat, always making sure to increase the number of internal enemies. As the United States staggers past the third anniversary of its misadventure in Iraq, the dagger is already poised, the myth is already being perpetuated. To understand just how this strategy is likely to unfold—and why this time it may well fail—we must return to the birth of a legend. The stab in the back first gained currency in Germany, as a means of explaining the nation’s stunning defeat in World War I. It was Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg himself, the leading German hero of the war, who told the National Assembly, “As an English general has very truly said, the German army was ‘stabbed in the back.’”

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