Paul Krugman's new blog promises to be a target rich source of prevailing lefty orthodoxy and fantasy. For example, I noticed this in his discussion of Bush, Iraq, and Vietnam:
Paul Krugman: There’s also the difference that Bush owns this war in a way the right never had sole ownership of Vietnam. So it may be harder to create a stab-in-the-back legend this time. On the other hand, we should bear in mind that many people believe things about Vietnam that never happened, like demonstrators spitting on returning soldiers.
I am not sure why anyone would cite the airport-spitting as a first choice example of anything, but he did, so let's go.
The notion that airport spitting was an urban myth was coined by Jerry Lembcke, himself a former Vietnam war protestor seeking to rehabilitate the image of the anti-war movement during the run-up to Gulf War I; let's keep an open mind as to his partisan purposes here.
Jack Shafer, Jim Lindgren and others kicked this around; eventually, Jack Shafer more or less tossed in the towel - in fact, there are contemporaneous news accounts of vets being spat upon in airports.
And just to offer two other examples - first, let's present an excerpt from p. 232 of Bob Kerrey's new book, "When I Was A Young Man". The future Senator is describing an incident in 1969; he is in Philadelphia undergoing rehab with his prosthetic leg and the incident occurs at the Martin Luther King track meet at Villanova::
After the race I was taunted by a group of long-haired men who blocked the exit and knocked me to the ground as I pushed past them to leave.
In Lembcke's analysis, this incident is disqualified because it did not happen at an airport and there is no contemporaneous news paper report or police record. But who thinks Kerry made it up?
And as a second example, consider the famous scene from "Born on the Fourth of July" involving vet-turned-protestor Ron Kovic:
In a pivotal scene in the film [Born on the Fourth of July], delegates at the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach eject Kovic and his fellow protesting vets from the hall, call him a traitor and spit on him. If that incident has a certain angry passion, it may be because the director was Oliver Stone.
Neither Lexis (via the UPI) nor the Times archive (and check for mis-spellings of Kovic) have any such report of spitting. Hence it appears, in Lembcke's analysis, that the Kovic story is also apocryphal now. Here is the UPI (with "Kovac"):
After about five minutes security agents wheeled them, unprotesting, out a side door.
Whatever. Personally, I believe both Kerrey and Kovic. One does wonder, though - what other misinformation is rattling around inside Krugman's mighty mind and passing itself off as reality-based?