09
Mar
15

wartime propaganda

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Truth, they say, is the first casualty of war. We idealize our own and dehumanize our enemies. Everybody does it. It’s a formula as old as the pyramids, and even older. No one has a monopoly on the truth.

In the wars of the 20th century, people were exhorted to enlist, approve (or disapprove) of the political leadership, work harder, consume less, give more, say nothing, plant victory gardens, etc. via every means from popular music and film, to radio addresses, books, postcards, even postage stamps. Everyone piled onto the bandwagon, even private institutions and companies. It was inescapable and all-pervasive.

I grew up in the “echo” of World War II, and the truth was restored only gradually, and not at all completely. In some instances, the lies were inflated. Much wartime hate propaganda has been frozen in time as truth, even though any reasonable person knows there had to have been excesses as the propaganda wars were escalated as the fighting wars ground on.

Today it is hard to know what was literally true and what was hyperbole. The motives of every player must be second-guessed, and the realities of the wars may never be known for sure. Yet these images are still strangely effective today. They play to our emotions and preconceived notions about ourselves, our parents and grandparents, and the people they—and we—were encouraged to hate and fear. We are left to ourselves with the impossible task of discerning fact from fiction.

In the end, we are each left to believe what we want to believe. Maybe it’s easier to just forgive, even if we can never forget.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to John McCormack performing “Keep the Home Fires Burning”

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Weather Report

51° and Partly Cloudy


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