There was a plagiarized right-wing letter printed in the Hattiesburg American this week. I of course had no idea it was plagiarized until I got to looking up info that the letter referred to. I'd give you a link to the letter, written by Dick Przybelski, headlined "Words of WWII Still Ring True", but the paper removed it from their website, leaving this message:
"A question was raised about the authenticity of this letter to the editor. Until the issue is resolved, this letter has been removed from the online edition of the Hattiesburg American."
The Przybelski letter had to do with Tokyo Rose supposedly demoralizing GIs in WWII and basically saying that the left is doing the same thing now to soldiers in Iraq. It was originally posted by and plagiarized from OneBigDog, an extremely conservative blogger. So extreme that I'd rather not link to his site (even though it will appear below). But I was happy that the paper reacted the way they did, and I was glad to find out about Tokyo Rose, who I'd heard of but really didn't know anything about.
So here're my posts to the forum:
"Tokyo Rose" was not a single person, but a name given by U.S. soldiers to a group of 12 women who broadcast Japanese propaganda. An American named Iva Ikuko Toguri was convicted of being Tokyo Rose (on only one of 8 treason charges against her), but she was not given a fair trial and was pardoned by Gerald Ford in 1977.
This letter purports to be anti-propaganda but in fact it is itself propaganda. It's interesting how Przybelski represents the message of supposed traitor "Tokyo Rose" as being three of the main (true) arguments against the Iraq war. And he seems to have gotten this info from this site: http://www.onebigdog.net/?p=2413
Przybelski not only "seems" to have gotten this info from the above website, it's copied verbatim in places. Check out the plagiarism for yourself. And yes, it's plagiarism because Przybelski doesn't use quotation marks or give his sources for this material. He tries to pass it off as his own.
Here are the rather striking "similarities" between the onebigdog post from 1-16-07 (http://www.onebigdog.net/?p=2413) and today's Przybelski letter:
onebigdog:"Through Tokyo Rose during World War II the Japanese attempted to develop a way to demoralize American forces."
Przybelski: "During World War II, the Japanese developed a way to demoralize the American forces."
onebigdog: "It was intended that Japanese psychological warfare experts could formulate a message that would work..."
Przybelski: "Psychological warfare experts developed a message they felt would work."
onebigdog: "And they gave their script to the famous broadcaster “Tokyo Rose,” and every day she would broadcast this same message packaged in different ways, hoping it would have a negative impact on the morale and fighting spirit of American GI’s."
Przybelski: "They gave the script to their famous broadcaster "Tokyo Rose," and every day she would broadcast this same message packaged in different ways, hoping it would have a negative impact on American GI's morale."
onebigdog: "What was the message? It had three main points: 1. Your President is lying to you.
2. This war is illegal. 3. You cannot win the war."
Przybelski: "What was that demoralizing message? It had three main points:
1. Your president is lying to you. 2. This war is illegal. 3. You cannot win the war."
onebigdog: "Does this sound familiar?"
Przybelski: "Does this sound familiar?"
onebigdog: "The only difference is that they claim to support our troops before they demoralize them. Come to think of it, Tokyo Rose told the troops she was on their side, too!"
Przybelski: "The only difference is that the people saying this now claim to support our troops before they demoralize them. Come to think of it, Tokyo Rose told the troops she was on their side, too."
And just so you'll know, onebigdog is an "occupational health nurse consultant" who blogs anonymously from Maryland. So Przybelski and onebigdog are not the same person. Przybelski is from Petal.
I have gone to great lengths to show that Przybelski's letter was in fact plagiarized from onebigdog. I'm not crying wolf over plagiarism--the letter was clearly plagiarized from onebigdog.
I have also done a lot of reading up on "Tokyo Rose" today. I learned that the woman that was eventually convicted of being Tokyo Rose was not only an American, she was literally born on the fourth of July. And I also learned that American GIs actually enjoyed listening to "Zero Hour"--the show she was on--because she played popular tunes of the day.
If the purpose of the "Zero Hour" show was to demoralize U.S. troops, it didn't work very well.
I have not been able to corroborate the claim of onebigdog (and by extension, Przybelski) that "Tokyo Rose" ever said or implied that the U.S. president was lying, or that the war was illegal, or that the U.S. would lose the war. I'm not saying that the collective "Tokyo Rose" didn't say those things, I'm just saying that in the research I've done today, I haven't run across accounts of any broadcasters saying such things.
Here, from the LA Times, is an account of the type of things she did say:
Calling herself "Orphan Ann," she came on the air with: "Hiya, keeds. I mean all you poor abandoned soldiers, sailors and Marines vacationing on those lovely tropical islands. Gets a little hot now and then, doesn't it? Well, remember, fellas, while you're sweating it out on the islands, your sweet little patootie back home is having a hotcha time with some friendly defense worker. They're probably dancing right now to this number...it used to be your song...remember?"
The LA Times article goes to say this:
"For war-weary soldiers and sailors, the broadcasts were a break in the boredom of war, and not to be taken seriously. *Many officers believed Tokyo Rose strengthened the morale of the armed forces in the Pacific*. In jest, they even gave her a citation after the war."
Here's another description of the broadcasts of "Tokyo Rose," from a book review of )"Tokyo Rose, Orphan of the Pacific":
" When the Japanese ordered the program expanded, the Australian POW selected Iva to read some scripts, but her voice was very coarse and low and he spent much time with Iva to get her to use a cheerful, lively voice. The POW, whose name was Major Cousins, assured Iva that he screened all scripts and that she would never be asked to say anything that was damaging to the USA. Iva was to call herself "Ann: and when Cousins heard that American broadcasters were referring to their troops as "Orphans of the Pacific", he asked Iva to call herself "Orphan Ann".
The "Zero Hour" program lasted only one hour..from 6 to 7 p.m. Tokyo time. It began with a theme song, "Strike Up The Band", played by Arthur Fielder and the Boston Pops Orchestra. The POW messages were read by Cousins for 5 to 10 minutes. Next came Iva's "Orphan Ann" disc jockey segment. She read a few pert comments written by Cousins. The records played were mainly classical or semi-classical with a few dance tunes. Her voice was only on the air for two or three minutes, followed by news from the US, followed by a "Juke Box" segment of popular or jazz music played by the Filipino POW. More news and commentary followed by male voices and a military march or song was played. The American POW signed off. " ------------
None of this sounds even remotely similar to what onebigdog or Przybelski intimated.
Post 5: The Point Of All This
Now, why is all that important?
Because onebigdog and Przybelski are trying to conflate WWII with Iraq. WWII is remembered as the last good war, the time of the "Greatest Generation," and so forth, while Iraq is rightly seen by the majority of the country as a regrettable quagmire that has more in common with Vietnam than WWII. Onebigdog and Przybelski are seeking to transfer the public's generally good feelings toward and general approval of WWII onto Iraq.
And they're doing so by trying to compare Iraq war critics to "Tokyo Rose," who is wrongly remembered as a propagandist and a traitor. Onebigdog and Przybelski are trying to play on the public's ignorance of the real story (or more accurately, the real *myth*) of "Tokyo Rose"--I must confess that I was largely ignorant of the whole story--to get them to believe that anyone who criticizes the Iraq war is also a propagandist and a traitor.
The thing is, the way onebigdog portrayed the effect of so-called Tokyo Rose broadcasts on American soldiers is just as wrong as his implication that critics of the Iraq war are traitorous anti-Americans.
Post 6: The Media Implications
And the Hattiesburg American isn't helping matters by titling Przybelski's letter "Words of WWII *still ring true.*"
For one thing, that headline implies that the HA thinks what Przybelski's letter says is true when in fact it isn't. Przybelski never said anything about anything "still ringing true," so the headline is not merely reflecting what Przybelski said, it's the HA's interpretation of what he said, which is demonstrably inaccurate.
But to the majority of people who will read only the letter and the headline and not this forum,
the publication of Przybelski's letter under that headline will be just one more tiny piece of the puzzle that will confirm for them that Iraq war critics are traitorous troop-haters if they are already inclined to think such a thing.
A more accurate and impartial headline for the letter might have been "Does this sound familiar?" That would have the advantage of being a quote from the letter as well as an indication of its content. That way, the HA's opinion wouldn't have been injected into it and they could reasonably and correctly claim that they're merely a conduit for opinion, however misguided it may or may not be.
Post 7: Wrap up
Furthermore, these types of appeals to mythology instead of reality should be more closely examined by journalists and by the public so that they can be seen for what they are.
A recent example is the story that the young Barack Hussein Obama supposedly attended a madrassa in Indonesia. It was reported on the Fox and Friends program, and they said they got the information from Insight Magazine.
On its face, this story should sound suspicious to any curious, ethical journalist and would have been independently verified by such a person. But that's not how Fox News operates. They just repeated what someone else (Insight magazine, in this case) said as fact.
It wasn't until CNN sent a reporter to the school in Indonesia that the madrassa myth was revealed. And Fox's John Gibson mocked CNN for sending a reporter to find out the truth, which is what actual journalists are supposed to do.
Here's a link that lays out the whole thing...
And what onebigdog and Przybelski are doing is very similar.
UPDATE: Here's the Przybelski letter, from the Google cache:
Words of WWII still ring true
During World War II, the Japanese developed a way to demoralize the American forces. Psychological warfare experts developed a message they felt would work.
They gave the script to their famous broadcaster "Tokyo Rose," and every day she would broadcast this same message packaged in different ways, hoping it would have a negative impact on American GI's morale.
What was that demoralizing message? It had three main points:
1. Your president is lying to you.
2. This war is illegal.
3. You cannot win the war.
Does this sound familiar? The only difference is that the people saying this now claim to support our troops before they demoralize them. Come to think of it, Tokyo Rose told the troops she was on their side, too.