Friday, July 24, 2009
These are real WWII propaganda posters!
I've been reading this book called Perilous Times: A history of Free Speech in War time. It's really interesting. There is a lot of stuff about WWII and the fact that the government wanted the US to hate Nazi's and Hitler, but not Germans and Italians as a whole (there was still a bad taste in everyone's mouth after WWI- which had involved probably the most repressive anti-1st amendment legislation in American history).
FDR said that there was no need to hate Italians as (and this is an actual quote), they were 'just a bunch of opera singers'.
However, all Japanese were viewed as potential subversives. The widespread use and acceptance of these sorts of posters goes along way to explaining why relatively so few people were outraged by Japanese internment, where 120,000 Japanese-Americans were put in concentration camps.
It's also pretty crazy that hatred and fear of the Japanese was used to remind people about the importance of car safety! And that the Wiley Jap played the role of a smokey the bear, warning people about the dangers of forest fires.