What wartime propaganda looked like

This is not exactly genius.  Quite the opposite: this US Army poster is a reminder of the coarse, racist appeals that passed as ‘support the troops’ propaganda in the Greatest Generation.  As shown by the sensitive description of the cost of war in my recent post on the letter my grandfather sent from Japan the day World War II ended, the men in battle did not always share this view of the enemy.  But then, the troops themselves were not the intended target of this propaganda; it was directed at those at home whose morale, it was thought, could be shored up by timely reminders of the slaughter of their loved ones.  This use of atrocity, real or imagined, to radicalize the middle ground, force people to choose sides and thereby create social unity — hence the line “What are YOU going to do about it?” — is common practice, employed in conventional wars like World War II to civil or ethnic wars like that in Bosnia in the early-1990s to guerrilla insurrections in Algeria and Iraq.  It is sinister, maybe, but difficult to resist.


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