Thursday, May 06, 2004

History not Hysteria

Bad News From the Front: 1942 and Today

A spate of propaganda over the past ten years about the "greatest generation" has contributed to a widely-held belief that during World War II Americans accepted such developments stoically, without complaint, and that bad news only intensified their resolve to see the fight through to a successful finish. In fact, the reverse was true; Americans were stunned by these reversals, and were quick to look for someone to blame. For a while the British appeared to be a convenient target; one poll taken after the fall of the North African fortress of Tobruk elicited responses suggesting that there was "too much tea-drinking and not enough fighting." The editors of The New Republic, meanwhile, complained that the British army was underperforming due to a "social rigidity which has kept the best British military ability from coming to the top."

An important side note: The New Republic was not noted for its expertise in military affairs but it was a reliable ally of American Stalinists. When war came, they did not seek to understand events: they simply shoved them into their pre-existing ideological templates. Hence, blaming "social rigidity" for British defeats. This remains a danger for partisan media whether they are pro-war or anti-war.

HT: Blog from the Core.

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