Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Type-casting and "The Bomb"

Monday, March 06, 2006

Type-casting and "The Bomb"

In WWII, the U.S. military dropped two atomic bombs on Japan: one on Nagasaki, and one on Hiroshima. How was this justified to Americans? First, Japan had attacked the United States and, as far as the average American citizen was concerned, it had attacked the United States without being provoked. Even though this created anger at the Japanese, I don't think that it would justify to the average American the tremendous loss of life that the bomb brought. Second, the Japanese would not surrender no matter how badly they were being beaten. I don't think that this was enough to warrant the atomic bomb either. Although the bombs brought victory to the United States and an end to WWII, the inhumane and incredible loss of Japanese life as a result of the bombs were unnecessary and I like to believe that many Americans would have felt the same way.
Over 240,000 Japanese were killed between the two bombs. How was there no backlash among Americans as to this incredible loss of life?
Reading the "Type-casting" chapter in Paul Fussell's book, I realized that the U.S, military campaigned to make the Japanese seem "sub-human," and more animal than human. Japanese were illustrated as dangerous beasts and there were slogans such as "rap the Jap," and "let's blast the Jap clean off the map" imagined by the military that helped create hatred toward the Japanese. With this propaganda strongly serving the notion that Japanese were not human but horrible beasts, the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki must have been easier for the American public to swallow.


Blogger A. Mattson said...

I already posted a comment on this post, but somehow it disappeared, oh well, I will try again:

There was no backlash for a number of reasons, first of all the complete horror of the event was kept from the American public because of wartime censorship and self-censorship. Second, the very bloody nature of the war in the Pacific and the length of the war made the American public eager to accept any quick end to the war. Most veterans of the war in the Pacific felt that the bomb was justified because if meant that an invasion of Japan was not necessary. An invasion that would have been enormously costly for both sides. The atom bombs were actually a lot less devastating than the conventional bombing and fire-bombing of Japanese cities.

3/13/2006 10:50 PM  

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