Monday, June 26, 2006

The Arsenal of Democracy

Megan
Response #8

1. “99 Ways to Share the Meat” This bulletin was distributed during WWII to stress that food consumption should be moderated. The reduction of meat consumption by everyday citizens helped America because then there was more to feed the troops. This struck me as being stereotypical to ask the "home front" which consisted of mostly women to obtain because the big, tough men needed the meat to fight the enemy. However, after the war, it was a noticeably male-centered society where no one would blink an eye at this poster. The poster also suggests that minimizing meat intake was a patriotic act, for it was good for the nation. The bottom tagline reads "Share and share alike is the American Way."

2. “A Children’s Charter in Wartime” · Why would children become important in this conflict? Children were an important aspect of WWII on the home front because they were the ones who would later be responsible for the US as one of the most powerful nations on earth. It was in the nation's best interest to keep the children healthy (as to not tie up funds in children's medical costs) - ready to grow up to be a productive member of society. Children's welfare was so integral that the Commission goes so far as to saying that it was our "wartime responsibility" to safeguard the nation's children (A Children's Charter in Wartime, Pg 1). The U.S. government's goal was not only to protect freedom overseas but keep our nation's democracy secure for the future. The belief was that if America's children were healthy and strong, America's future was healthy and strong. It does make sense.

3. "A War Job in Your Own Home"
Through simple human psychology, the U.S. government motivates housewives to save cooking fats. The bulletin suggests that housewives in particular are urgently needed in a crucial war effort. Their task is both a "vital" and special one. This creates women who feel that they are valuable, needed and appreciated members of society. They are participating in the war, helping their loved ones on the front lines. When women were recognized as beneficial and essential to the war, it made women happy and supportive. Another motivating tactic is to play upon ideas of civic duty and nationalism. If you do this action, you are a good, patriotic American. The bulletin makes the task seem like it is an absolutely crucial one for the war effort. In reality, the conserving of fats was probably low on the list of ways to win the war. But, more important than conserving cooking fats was boosting the morale on the home front --which was what this bulletin did.

4. “Indian’s in the War”
This document served as positive P.R. for America’s relations with the Native Americans. It honored their dead, told stories of their heroism and sacrifice. This created a feeling of community – the Native Americans as an important, valued part of the United States. The document hoped to convey to the Native Americans that the U.S. government recognized them as a strong, respected people. Again, the government uses psychological tactics in public relations to gain support for war efforts. The language used to describe the Native Americans was kind of ignorant. They were spoken of as if they were strange, exotic people who were assimilating to society from their barbaric history. They were praised for their action the way a parent praises a young child who performed a remedial task correctly for the first time. Their culture struck the reporters, such as Ernie Pyle, as primitive. He comments on two brothers who do not share the same family surname, “I guess that’s the Navajo custom, though I never knew it before” (Pg 12). They are described as “these people” – not “us” but “them.” I think it’s worthy of noting because it shows Americans unchanged cultural prejudices. The The ceremonial dances were portrayed in a circus-like, barbaric ritual to the “great gods of the sky.” This seemed to distract their fellow soldiers. The language barrier is mentioned as whites are frustrated that they do not understand what the Native Americans say. Pyle writes that the secret orders were given in Navajo and since “practically nobody in the world understands Navajo except another Navajo” his Indian friend had to translate it. The women were barely mentioned except that they were the wives of fallen soldiers.

5. “Labor Goes to War”
The purpose of the document was to rally the mass factory and industry workers of the American public to rally behind the war. It did this not by asking but by telling them, reminding them of their pledge to the country (even though this never did exist) of “full cooperation and participation.” The labor targeted is the low to middle class unskilled and skilled labor, primarily in urban areas. This meant poor whites, African-Americans and immigrants. Since the men were at war, women and children were actively working in industry. The document conveyed that their sacrifice (enduring bad working conditions, not striking & boycotting industry) was holding the seams of American democracy together. It tells labor that they are not only important but just as important as the soldiers fighting on the frontlines. Dissent was not a possibility for labor –they were that their jobs, unfulfilled would lead to dire consequences. The message is clear. The Special Assistant to the President signs off, “Labor will never fail the cause of freedom.” The target audience was one that valued the freedoms that America granted to them. The document pushes the importance of their cooperation as crucial to the survival of these freedoms they cherish, that their grandparents immigrated to America to give them.

2 Comments:

At 6:01 PM, Blogger abby said...

I agree somewhat with Meagan’s evaluation of the “99 Ways to Share the Meat.” I agree with all of Meagan’s information, however, I do not believe that it was stereotypical necessarily to ask the home front to use less meat. The troops were fighting abroad and need to be strong to continue on; it does not seem like a lot to me to assure them food. Megan says that “the poster also suggests that minimizing meat intake was a patriotic act, for it was good for the nation” (Meagan’s Blog). Well, this is true; the act was patriotic for it was a way for people on the home front to help in the war effort. Like I said in my Blog, “everyone was making sacrifices to help the war effort” (Abby’s Blog). The entire country wanted to get involved and help and rationing food was something they could do to help the soldiers. Lucas also, in his Blog, reassures this point by saying, “often times this meant sacrifices back home in the name of patriotism” (Lucas’ Blog). The entire country had to make sacrifices to help the war effort and many people were willing to do so.

 
At 9:35 PM, Blogger H. McLure said...

Megan,

This is a very good entry, with an especially careful and insightful analysis of the "Indians in the War" bulletin. You might have elaborated just a bit on the native women, some of whom in fact are described as serving in uniform, as well as practicing their "native crafts" in order to raise money for war bonds.

 

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