I reckon it’s a sign of the times. Ohio auction house Humler & Nolan offers 346 gigantic World War Two propaganda posters for sale or bid. The mainstream media is all over it. To a point. I had to spend twenty minutes finding a link to a website that reproduced ANY of the images—including Humler & Nolan itself. The poster above is one of fifteen at news.cincinnati.com. usatoday.com’s description of one of the images gives us insight into the reasons behind the MSM’s collective reticence . . .

Demonic depictions of the enemy — which in today’s sensitive light appear politically incorrect. Beneath the words, “Factory FIRES help the JAPS,” a burning plant sends up fiendish flames bearing a strong resemblance to the face of Japan’s Prime Minister Hideki Tojo.

Excuse me for saying so, but fucking wimps, all of them. While racism is a horrible thing, these posters embody the fighting spirit that secured freedom for tens of millions of people around the globe. Including Japan. To censor this piece of history is to turn your back on the sacrifices Americans made for freedom. The freedom that saved my father’s life, and kept him out of slavery for sixty years.

Is it any wonder that the President of the United States, a constitutional scholar, deployed our forces into the Libyan civil war without seeking congressional approval? Or that Illinois gun rights activists are struggling—again, still—to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms?

And it’s not just racism or nationalism that’s swept under the carpet in this headlong rush to Orwellian homogeneity (under the guise of “diversity” no less). It’s religion too; as if there’s something unseemly about believing in the Christian values contained in the Bible. Although cincinnati.com shows it like it is [image below], USAToday and others won’t.

Examples from the Office of War Information’s “This is the Enemy” series cross the line of political correctness.

One dark-toned and dark-themed “This is the Enemy” poster features a Nazi’s hand clutching a dagger stabbing a Bible. Others feature Japanese soldiers “whose features make them look like bugs,” [Stanford University’s Hoover Institution archivist Carol] Leadenham said.

“You have to put these posters into context,” she added.

“This is not to say the images are nice. But you have to understand what was going on back then. We were at war. American troops were being tortured. And killed. These posters reflected emotions the country felt.”

[Poster collector Vernon] Rader recalled the emotions the posters stirred in him.

“They got you worked up,” he said. “Those posters reminded you what we were fighting for. They made you want to buy war bonds.”

He paused.

“I wonder why we don’t have posters like this today,” he said. “They might help us pay for those wars we are waging overseas.”

When an entire country—government, media, bureaucrats, even the military—place the need nor to hurt anyone’s feelings above the need to defend our liberty; when they “forget” the fact that this defense must be paid for with blood, sweat and tears; when they “forget” to engage the populace in this collective struggle, then we truly are a nation of cowards.

Not all of us. Some of us take responsibility for our personal defense, and decry what’s being done in our name by “our” politicians without our consent (from the Mexican border to the shores of Tripoli). But enough of us are insulated from our country’s founding values—however crudely expressed in the past—that I fear for the future of our nation.

23 Responses to The Mystery of the “Vivid” World War II Posters

  1. It’s the extreme feminization, nay pussification of society. There’s a new unwritten enumerated right, the right not to be offended. It’s sad, it’s maddening and it’s debilitating. But it’s the price we’re paying for the left’s long march through the institutions (academia, the media, the arts) and society in general over the last half century and it’s weakened the country.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2066272/

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/03/24/EDO21IISNS.DTL

    We’ll survive it because the country’s still very strong and enough of us are pissed off about it and refusing to knuckle under or kowtow to these moronic pieties. The left’s overplayed their hand by making accusations of racism so commonplace that the smear has virtually lost all meaning. But like the struggle to reverse the anti-gun culture in America’s large and mostly northeastern cities, it will be a long, tough slog.

  2. I’m never in favor of firearm related censorship, but the modified posters for “The Other Guys” with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg were actually funnier – replacing the guns with a badge and a can of defensive spray made them look even more ineffectual as cops…

  3. these posters embody the fighting spirit that secured freedom for tens of millions of people around the globe. Including Japan. To censor this piece of history is to turn your back on the sacrifices Americans made for freedom.

    Um, no. We aren’t free. Japan isn’t free. FDR gave millions of people to Stalin, that wasn’t freeing them. Germany isn’t free now, neither is France or England nor is any country that we “freed”. There were sacrifices made, but they were for our own tyrannical government – not for freedom. These posters were used to manipulate people’s emotions so that they would gladly trade their liberty (and the rule of law and their property and their wages and their free market) to the Leviathan. To censor these posters is to cover up our government’s history of propaganda – and that I will agree is not a good thing.

      • May I ask, Critic, who in your opinion is free then?

        One could argue that some areas in Somalia and previously the Northern Ivory Coast, but not even those places have ever been completely free. Freedom is still a theoretical concept yet to be applied in real life.

    • I don’t know, but last time I was in Japan it looked very free to me. People could voice their opinions (and there Japan is far more advanced than Europe), people could go wherever they wanted, they could do whatever they wanted, nobody was oppressed, police was very friendly and polite, etc. Hmmm… Looks free to me.

      Besides, shall we go into comparing how imperial Japan was compared to the Japan we have today? Shall we explore the utter fascism that was employed by the militay and their willing minions among the politicians and compare it with today?

      And to return to the topic: the German and Japanese propaganda is also very interesting to see. The German anti-semitic movie “the eternal Jew” (Der ewige Jude) still works today. It’s brilliantly done, the message, of course, is disguting, but the work itself, as piece of propaganda, is brilliant.

  4. Check out WWII by James Jones. It’s basically a picture book of WWII graphic art. He wrote all the text.
    It contains works created for the army, navy, or the Marine Corps by professional artists either hired or enlisted for just that. You get a glimpse of what was captured from Germany and Japan as well.
    Kinda off topic…but a cool look and read not published until 1975. It was created as nostalgia. You get to make up your own mind. Good luck finding anything like it today.

  5. Censoring or ignoring any history is foolish, dangerous even. But to decry the Wimpy Left for being squeamish about some provocative WWII agitprop while right wing textbook committees have for decades been running roughshod over historical fact in Texas, where I grew up, and other (mostly Southern) states rings a bit hollow for me.

    I think we need to be big enough as a society to appreciate the collective effort involved in fighting WWII, and recognize the ugliness of war, which involves de-humanizing the enemy. We need to take responsibility as a society for those times when we fell short (Japanese internment camps come to mind), and not just revel in our triumphs. My history textbooks in the 1980s completely whitewashed the genocide of Native Americans, the massacre of civilians in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War, and on and on. I learned hardly a thing about the Labor Movement until I had a teacher (a conservative one, no less) that assigned reading beyond the textbooks. The Vietnam War was still too raw, and merited barely a mention. The Civil Rights Movement was pretty much sanitized. So I reject this whining about left-wing censorship of history. We’ll look a the same facts and draw different conclusions, I’m sure, but let’s at least agree to look at those facts, and not sweep the ones we don’t like under the rug.

    Those posters are pretty cool, though.

    • If I were rolling in money; I’d own one of each of these.. I have a small collection of recruiting posters, but these are just .. wow! History…

      “Lest we forget..”

    • Oh America just sucks so much more than everyone else, it’s HORRIBLE that your textbooks didn’t explain it all to you… / sarcasm off…

      “(Japanese internment camps come to mind)” VS JAPANESE “MEDICAL EXPERIMENTS” on our POWS, the Baattan Death March, the Rape of Nanking, these must ALL BE ignored while we cry about Americanus Horribilis…

      “whitewashed the genocide of Native Americans,”…

      You mean the “Native Americans who scalped those they didn’t rape / enslave, FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS before Europeans got here…

      And “Genocide”? Who was your professor, Ward Churchill?

      Yes, it wasn’t pretty, but it wasn’t “genocide”.

      “…the massacre of civilians in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War…”

      You mean the Phillipine-American war When you want to trash America, try to get your facts straight:

      U.S. Army General Otis stated that Filipino insurgents tortured American prisoners in “fiendish fashion”. According to Otis, many were buried alive or were placed up to their necks in anthills. He said others had their genitals removed and stuffed into their mouths and were then executed by suffocation or bleeding to death. It was also stated that some prisoners were deliberately infected with leprosy before being released to spread the disease among their comrades. Spanish priests were horribly mutilated before their congregations, it was reported, and natives who refused to support Emilio Aguinaldo were slaughtered by the thousands. .

      American newspaper headlines announced the “Murder and Rapine” by the “Fiendish Filipinos.”[49] General “Fighting Joe” Wheeler insisted that it was the Filipinos who had mutilated their own dead, murdered women and children, and burned down villages, solely to discredit American soldiers.[49]…

      …Sergeant Hallock testified in the Lodge Committee that natives were given the water cure, “…in order to secure information of the murder of Private O’Herne of Company I, who had been not only killed, but roasted and otherwise tortured before death ensued.”[91]…

      …The attack itself triggered American reprisals in Samar, ordered by General Jacob Hurd Smith, who reportedly ordered his men to kill everyone over ten years old. To his credit, Major Littleton Waller countermanded it to his own men. Nevertheless, some of his men “undoubtedly” carried out atrocities.[88] Smith was court-martialed for this order and found guilty in 1902, which ended his career in the U.S. Army.[89] Waller was acquitted of killing eleven Filipino guides.[90]…

      On the Filipino side, information regarding atrocities comes from the eyewitnesses and the participants themselves. In his History of the Filipino People Teodoro Agoncillo writes that the Filipino troops could match and even exceed American brutality on some prisoners of war. Kicking, slapping, and spitting at faces were common. In some cases, ears and noses were cut off and salt applied to the wounds. In other cases, captives were buried alive. These atrocities occurred regardless of Aguinaldo’s orders and circulars concerning the good treatment of prisoners.[92]

      But remember, ONLY AMERICA IS TO BLAME
      /sarcasm off…

      PS – “I learned hardly a thing about the Labor Movement until I had a teacher (a conservative one, no less) that assigned reading beyond the textbooks.”

      Did your professor tell you how during the first 30-40 years of the 20th century, most of the American unions were RUN FROM THE SOVIET UNION?

      Do we need to remind you how many hundreds of millions were enslaved/murdered by Communism?

  6. Let’s remember that we can support troops without condoning the manipulations of the Pentagon and friends. Oh, and today, too.

  7. If you like these illustrations there are hundreds available on Google Images. They were used not only in posters, but in print advertising by companies promoting their contributions to the war effort. Some are very moving. And actually, the best of them are highly sophisticated in the way they portray American values and contain no racist or zenophobic messages– among them, for example, Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” series for the Saturday Evening Post in 1943. It is hardly surprising that these efforts were more persuasive, as racism is not something most Americans wish to celebrate.

    However, it requires mentioning that these images were recognized as blatant propaganda even at the time. These are fascinating artifacts of WWII, but not representative of period mores. Mainly, Americans just wanted to win the war and get it over with. People today are attracted to these images because they suggest a moral clarity and unity of purpose that they do not experience as Americans. However, no amount of propaganda is going to recreate that. The unity of purpose was created by a world war, not by skillful propaganda.

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