Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Immigrants in WWI

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Immigrants in WWI

In chapter 6 of Stuart Ewen's book, PR! A Social History of Spin, he discusses the fear the American government, along with the general public, had with newly welcomed immigrants and who their allegiance stood with.

"Reflecting familiar patterns of xenophobia, there were also concerns about the loyalty of Ameirca's huge immigrant population." Beyond specific questions of German immigrants or of Irish Americans- who, on the whole, despised America's ally, the British- the dreadful reality of many immigrants' lives in America could not help but throw the allegiances of the foreign-born into question." (Ewen pg 105)

During WWI many Americans feared spies and "German sympathizers". Newly welcomed immigrants of America were considered by many to be non-trustworthy. Americans were skeptical about who their allegiances were with.

When immigrants came to America they were often placed in slums and found it hard to succeed in the "Land of Opportunity". The head of the CPI, George Creel, explained this best when he said, "We let sharks prey on them, we let poverty swamp them, we did not teach them English." Being new to a country that places you in the slums of their ghettos can make a immigrant feel a sense of loyalty to their mother country.

I think around this time Americans really began to fear the immigrants and a great sense of natioanlism arose. The African-Americans during this time now had new friends to join them in being the "black sheep" of America. Americans have a great history of fearing the unknown, or ones they choose not to want to know.


Blogger A. Mattson said...

Good discussion.

Creel and the CPI's campaign of Americanization served the war effort. It also addressed the issue of loyalty and anti-immigrant sentiment. Americanization offered immigrants a deal citizenship in exchange for service to the war effort. Wartime propaganda was full of American ideals about equality and citizenship. Was it false advertising?

3/11/2009 10:02 PM  

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