The World O' Crap Archive

Welcome to the Collected World O' Crap, a comprehensive library of posts from the original Salon Blog, and our successor site, (2006 to 2010).

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Oh, Nazis Used The Swastika Too? No One Told Me…

Kevin Drum (D-Can’tSeeWhatAllTheFussIsAbout) slicks back his cowlick, pops his eyes wide, and utters a heartfelt “Garsh!” at the sight of certain hypersensitive little pantywaists taking umbrage at this cartoon:

As Alfalfa writes:
Now, if you capitalize this you get Stab In The Back, which is famous as a popular German rationalization for their loss in World War I: i.e., the real reason they lost was because the German army was “stabbed in the back” by various actors, including politicians and the public. Hitler later adopted this as a populist rallying cry during his rise to power.
Ramirez may or may not know this history. He probably does. Nonetheless, this from Mark Kleiman seems overboard to me:
I know that supporters of the currently ruling coalition of crooks, warmongers, torturers, incompetents, and theocrats are deeply, deeply hurt when they and their pet politicians are compared to Nazis. But could someone suggest to them — politely, of course — that it would help if they stopped borrowing Nazi iconography and phraseology?
But look: the phrase “stab in the back” is a common idiom. Everyone reading this has probably used it dozens of times in their lives without once thinking about its German roots. It’s simply not a phrase like “Final Solution,” which clearly became exclusive Nazi property after the Holocaust.
God knows I have plenty of reason to dislike Ramirez since I had to put with his swill for years when he was the editorial cartoonist for the LA Times. What’s more, the “stab in the back” myth that Republican war supporters have been ginning up for the past couple of years is both odious and unsupportable. As an idea, it’s worth fighting tooth and nail. But that still doesn’t make it “Nazi iconography.” It’s a common phrase, commonly used, and I’ve never heard a suggestion that it’s no longer suitable for ordinary conversation. Unless we’re ready to make that argument, we should probably call off the language police on this one.
Yeah, looking at this cartoon and seeing a parallel to the Dolchstoss myth really demands the kind of concentration and effort required to make yourself see the unicorn in one of those “Magic Eye” pictures.  Same thing goes for, say, putting a Hitler mustache on a Happy Face.  No serious-minded person would leap to the conclusion that the use of these images mean that anybody is calling anybody else a Nazi.  First of all, it’s not like the National Socialists were particularly known for a reliance on symbols or iconography (I doubt that, if you polled even members of the High Command, you would find more than 2 or 3 of them who were comfortable using Photoshop.)

Secondly, this is, as Kevin points out, a “common phrase, commonly used,” (I must use it five or six times a day: “No!  I did pay a lot for this muffler — Midas stabbed me in the back!“…”Excuse me, do you have the time?  No?  Thanks for stabbing me in the back!“…”Say, do you mind if I work in here on the leg-press machine, or would you prefer to just stab me in the back!“).

Of course, we’re not talking about the phrase so much as we are Ramirez’s use of the image, and the Nazis would have had to have frequently and shamelessly employed something similar before you could legitimately get all bent out of…

Hm.  Well, I’m sure that’s just an outlier.  It’s not like they made a big deal about blaming Jews and liberals and politicians for the German loss in the War…
Although traditional anti-Jewish stereotypes remained virulent in the Weimar Republic, racial antisemitism became increasingly prominent following the war and revolution. Numerous völkisch and nationalist parties and associations added antisemitic elements to their manifestos. Antisemitic propaganda reached broad sections of the population through more than 700 newspapers and countless publications.

“Germans, think about it!”, Postcard, around 1923
With the “stab in the back legend”, the myth that the German army were unconquered in the field, antisemitic propaganda blamed the breakdown of the Kaiserreich on “Jewish revolutionary forces”. This caricature shows the Social Democrat Philipp Scheidemann raising a dagger behind the backs of the soldiers. He is receiving the approval of Matthias Erzberger from the Centre Party. Wealthy Jews are pictured in the background as the alleged perpetrators of the deed.
Alright, fine. But for Ramirez to have been exploiting the concept of Dolchstoss would only make sense if there were a movement afoot in the wingnut world to blame our inevitable failure in Iraq on Democrats and certain fellow-traveling, weak-sister Republicans in Congress. And yet, have we seen any such evidence? Sadyno!

Posted by scott on Tuesday, May 15th, 2007 at 1:55 pm.

8 Responses to “Oh, Nazis Used The Swastika Too? No One Told Me…”

I think you stopped the blockquote a little early. Right now, it looks like you’re the one saying “‘stab in the back’ is a common idiom.”
Left by Drew Johnston on May 15th, 2007

Thanks, Drew. Fixed (I hope).
Left by scott on May 15th, 2007

Can’t read half the text. Usually once I click on the “Comments” buttton it clears up, but not this time.
Left by BeginningToWonder on May 15th, 2007

“Where’s the gay desperado from the previous post?”
“Oh, they’re stabbing him in the back.”
Left by Bistroist on May 15th, 2007

A classic of the genre.
Left by Andy Vance on May 15th, 2007

For those who don’t wish to be labelled Nazis, may I suggest the alternative phrase “brutally penetrated from behind” ? I’m pretty sure that will avoud any misconception.
Also, instead of saying that the Germans invaded Poland, say that they “liberated Poland”–just like Iraq has been liberated.
I’d also suggest that the application of a “my child is an Honor Roll student” bumper sticker on the back of your PanzerKampfWagen VI ‘Tiger’ will immediately dispel any notion that you are in fact a Nazi.
Left by Britisher on May 16th, 2007
Kevin Drum (D-Can’tSeeWhatAllTheFussIsAbout) slicks back his cowlick, pops his eyes wide, and utters a heartfelt “Garsh!”
This is so freaking awesome. I’m going to visualize it the next time Drum makes me see red (the next time I’m bored enough to click over there, in other words).
But did Alfalfa commonly say “Garsh!”, or is Drum an Alfalfa/Goofy hybrid in this case?
But did Alfalfa commonly say “Garsh!”, or is Drum an Alfalfa/Goofy hybrid in this case?
Kevin’s a mixed breed. Attitude of Alfalfa, height and build of Goofy. Dim prospects for Best in Show.

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