Re: Antiwar Spitting (Multiple posts)
Thu, 15 May 1997 07:32:15 -0400

From: Jonah Raskin <>

Reply to: RE>>Antiwar Spitting

Avrum -
Thanks for your note about the spitting myth & veterans. I wonder if you =
can find the first reference to it. Who was it who first reported it or =
made it up? Good luck with your research. Jonah

> I can tell you why the issue is important from my perspective.
>"Spitting" on returning vets has taken on the archetypal status of an
>urban myth. It is one of the stories that veterans tells often, the
>meaning of which as they take it is to reassure themselves that they are
>alone and will never be misunderstood by those who did not serve. I =
the myth is probelmmatic (if not true) in that it reinforces beliefs that
are keeping people isolated and unhappy.

Avrum Geurin Weiss

From: Alex Bloom <>

Paul Wright of UMass Press asked that the following be sent out in regard
to this question.


Prof. Jerry Lembcke, Dept. of Sociology, College of the Holy Cross, has a
book manuscript in process, "Myth, Spit, and Vietnam Vets," that
completely debunks the myth of the spat-upon vet. I don't think he is on
E-Mail, but those who are interested could contact him at Holy Cross by
old-fashioned means. He did publish a piece of it as "The Myth of the
Spat-upon Vietnam Veteran and the Rhetorical Construction of Soldiers as
Means and Ends in the Persian Gulf War," _Viet Nam Generation: A Journal
of Recent History and Contemporary Culture_, vol. 6, nos. 3-4, pp. 24-36.


Re spitting on vets.

I think Avrum (Avi, I think?) Weiss is right on the money on the mythical
qualities of the spitting-on-vets metaphor (probably akin to bra-burning). My
take is that, irrespective of how many actual spittings (etc.) occurred, the
metaphor captured the reality of how the return to the US felt to vets --they
were alone, sometimes unwilling to open up about the war, and felt the
environment of family, friends, strangers, country, etc. was in one way or
antoerh hostile, uncomprehending, never-could-understand, etc. In short, it
FEELS true. I suspect the propaganda about "not letting the military win"
has a similar effect for many (micro-awareness of "rules of engagement" or
other limitations; an awareness that this wasn't a "normal war" etc.) --in a
sense true, and it feels right, but it completely obscures the reality of what
an "all-out war" would do to Indochina & its peoples. It completely obscures
the fact that Vietnam was not really a military situation suitable for
military force; its' just that's the only weapon the US had to serve its
foreign policy.
These myths are a very significant part of effective propaganda. We could
probably generate quite a few regarding the 60s on this list.

Ted Morgan

Department of Political Science
Maginnes Hall #9
Lehigh University
Bethlehem, PA 18015
phone: (610) 758-3345
fax: (610) 758-6554
Date: Thu, 8 May 1997 06:25:43 -0400
From: owner-sixties-l@jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU
To: owner-sixties-l@jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU
Subject: BOUNCE sixties-l@lists.village.Virginia.EDU: Approval required

From: Ray Ytzaina <>

I didn't find the spitting as obnoxious a the bag of urine thrown at me
at San Francisco International.