The Wolfsonian’s Weapons of Mass Dissemination: The Propaganda of War attempts to draw parallels – through posters, house wares, and even children’s books and games – between the propaganda of the past and the audience’s relationship to contemporary propaganda (see a PR-fueled “Campus Living” section in the Hurricane). The methods utilized by dominating forces throughout the World Wars are stark examples of the power of fear and the sly nature of these contagious messages force the actions of the people to reflect the agenda of the government.
Blatant intentions is the most chilling effect of this exhibition. It seems irrational for people to buy into propagandist ideas, but in a time when the entire world is at war, the only thing that seems to matter is survival.
The downward spiral of patriotism to prejudice is a slippery slope that begins with a novel ideal and ends with an ignorant and potentially harmful perspective: the U.S. government encourages people to buy bonds during wartime so deflation and interest rates seemingly do not rob the people of their money when the economy bottoms out; during World War II, after the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, a poster that was visibly sponsored by the Kroger Grocery Corporation depicts an Asian man sneaking up to a female child’s room with a knife and reads: “Keep Jap Terror from Your Home. Buy War Bonds.” Of course, the interest here is in that of the government.
Moreover, terrorism is relative to the cause and means by which it is enacted. President Bush Jr.’s administration has promoted the idea of terrorism to new heights by instigating a Cold War Era-esque mentality of “Us vs. Them.” This paradigm of hate is a Machiavellian technique of controlling the people by over-generalizing the effect of the actions of nations.
The complex system of foreign affairs drives political leaders to make decisions based on how his or her own country perceives itself and how other nations judge the actions and propaganda that are exported out of the country. This exhibit references the decisions and actions that nations on many different sides partook in the past to achieve their goals.
The Axis nations during WWII introduced works that claimed that the U.S., Great Britain, and Russia were all involved in a massive Masonic Jewish conspiracy. The winner of a poster contest in the U.S. portrays a Bible with a dagger being thrust into it by a dark arm with a swastika symbol on the sleeve. The bold typed line below it reads, “This is the Enemy.”
The dramatic fashion by which propaganda may drive religious insecurities and passions is utterly disgusting. The same problem exists today between the mostly Muslim Middle East and the mostly Judo-Christian West. In the United States, the masses are worried that there are too many people who are involved in the “extremist” religion of Islam – thus, supporters of violent organizations who are against the West.
In the Middle East, people are worried that the culture of the U.S. has become too pervasive and, like a virus, it has spread throughout the world with immoral means only to achieve immoral ends that will flush away the traditions and values of the region forever. Propaganda that has fired up this argument has and will continue to become more sophisticated as technology and culture do as well. In the future, this exhibit would have to contain more television programs like Crossfire on CNN or more localized examples, such a campus newspaper made to promote its university’s agenda.
The complete extent to how intentional messages of propaganda are reproduced through societies is phenomenal. Nothing is off-limits or too sacred for use by the powerful governments that are set up to believe that they are above the moral law. Even right here, on your campus, there is an administration that wants to suppress free speech and shadily acts behind the curtains. Keep your eyes and ears open, people.
This exhibit is important because the point has become obvious almost to the level of clich