The Myth of the Spitting Myth Part 3

by John Hawkins | February 5, 2007 12:17 pm

Since at least way back in 2003, Slate has been gamely insisting that no soldiers were spit on back in the states after the Vietnam War. So, in other words, there’s a “spitting myth” out there. Originally, they based this on a book by Jerry Lembcke, who said he researched it and couldn’t find a single person who claimed that they were spit on, it was always third hand accounts. “In other words, my friend/cousin/brother/father said they were spit on, but no, I wasn’t there.”

But, after Slate started making this claim, vets came out of the woodwork to say that they were spit on when they returned from Vietnam and Slate[1] has started adding a few new steps to the same old song and dance they’ve been doing on this issue:

“The myth of the spat-upon Vietnam veteran refuses to die. Despite Jerry Lembcke’s debunking book from 1998, Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam, and my best efforts to publicize his work, the press continues to repeat the fables as fact.

Earlier this month, Newsweek resuscitated the vet-spit myth in a dual profile of John McCain and Chuck Hagel. Newsweek reports: “Returning GIs were sometimes jeered and even spat upon in airports; they learned to change quickly into civilian clothes.”

Nexis teems with such allegations of spat-upon vets and even includes testimonials by those who claim to have been gobbed upon. But Lembcke–a Vietnam vet himself–cites his own research and that of other academics to assert that he has never uncovered a single news story documenting such an incident.

Lembcke writes:

“If spitting on veterans had occurred all that frequently, surely some veteran or soldier would have called it to the attention of the press at the time. … Indeed, we would imagine that news reporters would have been camping in the lobby of the San Francisco airport, cameras in hand, just waiting for a chance to record the real thing–if, that is, they had any reason to believe that such incidents might occur.”

In researching the book, Lembcke found no news accounts or even claims from the late 1960s or early 1970s of vets getting spat at.

…Now, it’s possible that a Vietnam veteran was spat upon during the war years. Lembcke concedes as much because nobody can prove something never happened. Indeed, each time I write about the spit myth, my inbox overflows with e-mail from readers who claim that a spitting protester targeted them while they were in uniform. Or the e-mail writer claims it happened to a brother or a friend at the airport or bus station.”

Do you see the rich, frothy irony present here? Lembcke writes that, “If spitting on veterans had occurred all that frequently, surely some veteran or soldier would have called it to the attention of the press at the time.” But today, Shafer admits that lots of vets are telling him that they were spit on and he doesn’t believe any of them. Who’s to say that the exact same thing didn’t happen in the sixties and seventies?

Moreover, let me tell you a little secret — well, a secret to a lot of people — most conservatives already know this: the news media often protects people that they agree with ideologically. For example, the most inflammatory posters from anti-war protests are never shown in the New York Times or on Yahoo. To see them, you’ve either got to have a conservative blogger there taking pictures or you’ve got to rely on the moonbats themselves to put up the pics. That’s because the MSM tries to protect people “on their side” as much as possible.

So, you weren’t going to have any liberal reporters camping out at their airports to catch their ideological soulmates spitting on soldiers back in the sixties, because, like Jack Shafer, they didn’t want to know.

But, there are certainly plenty of vets out there who say they’ve been spit on. For example, it took me less than 5 minutes to find:

“I can not say it enough, respect our soldiers,” Col. Bullard said. “When I came back from Vietnam to Los Angeles, Calif., I was spit on. That was an obvious moral buster.” — Retired Army Colonel Charles Bullard[2]

“I was spit on. I was called a baby killer even though I had never carried a gun,” Schoch said. “We’re going to see more psychologically wounded soldiers coming back from Iraq. I hope we as a people can support them.” — Vietnam veteran Nikko Schoch, co-founder of Veterans for Peace[3]

“It’s not like Vietnam–I was spit on then. This time, both sides of the fence, the left and the right, are on board with taking care of the troops. They know these are our people, our sons and daughters over there.” — 20-year Army vet Marty Horn[4]

“While walking in Boston in uniform, I was spit on by women and called ‘baby killer.'” — Eric Margolis[5]

But, they’re all liars, they’re all making it up because Jack Shafer and some other liberals don’t want to admit that their liberal brethren spit on soldiers they hated after Vietnam? Come on, it’s very obvious who’s right here and it isn’t the liberals who claim it never happened.

Also see,

The Myth Of The “Spitting Myth”[6]
The Myth Of The Spitting Myth Part 2[7]

  1. Slate:
  2. Retired Army Colonel Charles Bullard:
  3. Vietnam veteran Nikko Schoch, co-founder of Veterans for Peace:,1249,600119904,00.html
  4. 20-year Army vet Marty Horn:
  5. Eric Margolis:
  6. The Myth Of The “Spitting Myth”:
  7. The Myth Of The Spitting Myth Part 2:

Source URL: