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Manufacturing Hatred: Race-Baiting and Imagery in the Pacific War - Essay Example

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Name 1 Name Class Instructor Date Manufacturing Hatred: Race-Baiting and Imagery in the Pacific War It has been said that in war the victor gets to write the history. It is certainly true that the United States, with its overawing cultural and communications industries, shaped the prevailing post-war views of World War II…
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Manufacturing Hatred: Race-Baiting and Imagery in the Pacific War
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Download file to see previous pages By comparison, the war in the Pacific has taken a back seat because Americans, in particular, need to feel that such a vast and consuming conflict has some higher meaning. What has been lost is the fact that the war against Japan covered a much larger territory than the European conflict, involved tremendous logistical challenges and presented an enemy so intractable that it was felt the most devastating weapon in the history of mankind was needed to secure final victory. Yet there was an even darker sub-theme at work – the war in the Pacific was, in a very real sense, a race war. This is the subject of John W. Dower’s illuminating book, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War. The differences in the European and Asian conflicts are obvious: one involved a massive conflict between nations peopled by Caucasians, who, despite the aberrant Name 2 ideology of Nazism, shared a common moral philosophy. America’s war with Japan had no such “mitigating” factor. As Dower points out, the Japanese and Americans sought to depict each other as sub-humans, or animals bent on everything from racial miscegenation to utter annihilation. The element of race hatred, Dower argues, “remains one of the great neglected subjects of World War Two” (1986, p. 4). ...
World War I witnessed the use of propaganda with racist overtones, but it wasn’t until World War II that media-generated hate campaigns were tacitly accepted by the public. Thus, the war in the Pacific was “total war” literally in every sense. Dower goes about the task of explaining how symbols and expressions gain meaning and context through the commitment of atrocities and the use of genocidal policies. The vehemence of the mutual abhorrence between the American and Japanese forces manifested itself in the frequent use of torture and other terror tactics that seemed justified given that they were carried out against an enemy that symbolized evil incarnate. To reinforce such beliefs, both sides formalized and legitimized dormant yet powerful feelings of racial superiority; the Americans believed that the white races were inherently superior, while the Japanese believed just as strongly that their racial and cultural ascendancy was without question. It is not difficult to imagine the incendiary effect this kind of race-baiting was sure to have on the battlefields and in the jungles of the Pacific. “Race hate fed atrocities, and atrocities in turn fanned the fires of race Name 3 hate” (Dower, 1986, p. 11). Dower refers to this as the “dehumanization of the Other,” a psychological distancing that has an anesthetizing effect on both the individual and on the men who plan strategies designed to kill masses of people, whether it be through conventional means or with nuclear weapons (1986, p. 11). The war of words had the effect of excusing the obsession with exterminating the enemy, whose very existence was seen as a direct threat, a “truly Manichaean struggle between completely incompatible antagonists” (1986, p 11). This psychology of war ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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