Monday, May 10, 2010

Memoir: Nothing New When Dealing with One's Enemy

Prior to 2001 the image of Muslims in the American media wasn't exactly a positive one. Since 9/11 it's only gotten worse. That one's perceived enemies are portrayed in a less than flattering light is human nature. "They" have to be worse than "Us". This isn't a new phenomena at all.

My Four Years in Germany was written in 1917 by James W Gerard. Gerard had been the American ambassador to Germany from 1913 to 1917 . The book is rabidly anti-German. I can't imagine that Gerard would be appointed ambassador if he was that anti-German in 1913 but stranger things have happened.

Strangely the book ties back to the modern American media nicely. It turns out that the film version of the book was Warner Brother's first nationally syndicated film. The portrayal of Germans in the film is much worse than the current portrayal of Muslims. The New York Times' overview of the movie gives details on some of the scandals caused by the horrors depicted on screen.

For instance Chicago's mayor wanted some of the more graphic and lurid parts of the movie removed and was then accused of being pro-German. This could be ripped from our headlines now. Just change the name of our 'enemies'.

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