Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Japanese: People or Souvenirs?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Japanese: People or Souvenirs?

“I wish we were fighting against Germans. They are human beings, like us.....but the japs are like animals...they take to the jungle as if they had been bred there, and like some beasts you never see them until they are dead" - ( soldier fighting Japanese)Fussel pg.116

This quote from Paul Fussels "Wartime", is a statement made by a soldier during World War II and it is the perfect example of the way that soldiers and Americans in general who lived during this time period were taught to think about their Japanese soldier enemies. According to Fussel the Japanese were thought of as being "jackals", "monkey-men", and even "sub-humans". Their skulls were skinned and cleaned and brought home by soldiers as souvenirs of the war and the souvenir making got so out of hand at one point that the commander in chief of the pacific fleet made it against war policy to take the body part of the enemy as a souvenir. For the personnel in charge of the war effort dehumanizing the enemy was used as a means to get American Soldiers to kill Japanese Soldiers without regret. This is crucial during a war. Obviously if a soldier views another soldier as being like he or she they will be less likely to kill them. That is the way a human being who hunts and kills an animal for food or sport is able to do so. The animal is seen as a lesser life form. That is how the Japanese were viewed during World War II. They were "typecast" as inhuman and it worked like a charm.


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A very good post. Fussell emphasizes the way that the Japanese were demonized in ways that the European enemy was not. Understanding how racial ideas are mobilized during wartime is important.

There was some justification for this portrayal of Japanese brutality in that the Japanese military was responsible for many monstruous atrocities during the war in the Pacific and in Asia. At the sametime, we need to understand how anti-
Asian racism was inflamed by a concerted campaign of American propaganda orchestrated by the OWI and media.

3/22/2008 9:13 PM  

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