Hatred of the Other and WWI

Some time ago, I was talking with a Marketing expert for a large company. He understood that such methods did not work on me, and so he was enjoying discussing his trade in a scientific manner with someone who could appreciate its finer points.

He said that he preferred using his skills on Americans more than people from around the world. For, despite the fact that they live in a highly educated, technologically advanced society, he found Americans the easiest to manipulate. They were most easily swayed by Sex and Fear.

It seems logical when you think about it. Just look at product commercials for the sex (and sometimes fear). A host of political commercials will fill the airwaves this year with plenty of fear. I was at a trade show once, and was amazed at the sheer number of beautiful women at each of the booths. One woman was wearing a way too small dress, and giving out golf balls with the company logo on them. Over a very pleasant lunch, she told me about how the ladies were hired, and the other shows she had worked. At a gun and knife show, I was regaled to purchase an assault rifle and ammunition before “that black guy” made it impossible to get either one ever again.

I thought about this, and its implications and usage in the wider context. I have discovered too many examples to list in a short space, but I think that some bare mentioning.

EVERY wave of immigrants since the founding of this nation have been treated by the majority with fear. This includes the freed slaves moving North after the Civil War. In each case, the exact same fears of losing jobs, decreased property values, and lowered morality have been drummed up. Religious freedom was in danger. The rape of decent white Protestant women was a common theme. Fear and Sex were used to build up resistance to “The Others”. Ironically, once that group merges into polite society, they are appealed to to join the chorus against the next group!

In EVERY major conflict that the United States has been in (including the Revolution), our leadership have described the enemy leadership as insane. You might even be saying to yourself, “Yeah, but they were.” No. Look it up for yourself. Could every country we ever fought be ruled by truly insane people? Of course not. Just building up the fear of what those “crazies” might do to justify action.

In many older conflicts, the enemy population was often also described as insane; evil barbarians lusting to destroy our freedom and rape our women. (The same idea is still used in modern times, just not usually from official channels.) I want to concentrate on one period as example; Anti-German Propaganda in WWI.

Just look at this WWI recruiting poster. Can you see the play on Fear and Sex it conveys? The bloody club and the half naked woman in the ape’s hand. This was 20 years before King Kong by the way. The woman is blond because the American Ideal Stereotype for the early half of the 20th century was blond and blue-eyed well built males and females. (Brunettes did not come into their own until WWII. Superman was listed as a “Jewish invention” and didn’t count). Does this in any way look like Kaiser Wilhelm II, a man who could have been an exact clone of his cousin George V of England? (A royal family with the last name Saxe-Coburg and Gotha)

The United States had been supplying the Allies in violation of its own and international law since the start of the conflict. As the US inched closer to entering the fighting, the government started an intense campaign to whip up public support for the coming bloodshed. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

German resident aliens and German-Americans were treated as spies or enemy sympathizers. Half a million were put on watch lists, and thousands were arrested. You would think that their knowledge of the German culture and language would have been of military advantage, but nobody was that far sighted. Many were forced to buy war bonds to show loyalty. Stores and homes of those with German sounding names were burned and looted. Since many of these store owners were Jewish, there was an added anti-Semitic element as well. There were also beatings and lynchings. Many changed their names in fear, as the British royal family had done, becoming the Windsors, naming themselves after their main home.

But the madness continued. Streets and cities had their names changed. Many schools stopped teaching German. German Shepard and dachshund dogs were assaulted and sometimes killed. Even words changed. Sauerkraut became “liberty cabbage”, hamburgers (invented in the United States by a guy from Denmark) became “liberty sandwiches”, German measles were now “liberty measles” and dachshunds (the ones not killed) became “liberty pups”. Sound familiar?

Look at the poster again, and ask yourself, is this how YOU see the German people? Do the reactions seem rational to you?

I believe that I can say No for the vast majority of you. The distance of time and subsequent events have changed our perspective on things. We are the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of these people who lived in terror of the Hun Enemy, both abroad and at home.

So, in conclusion, I have some purely personal questions, in regards to the current conflicts. Except for the spiked helmet, is this how you see the Enemy? Are they madmen as well, despite the fact that they were allies of the United States in the 1980s and 1990s? Do you see them lurking around every corner? Are other countries cowards when they do not go along 100% with what we want?

And most importantly, what will YOUR grandchildren and great grandchildren think of how you handled it?

Think about it, and enjoy your “Freedom Fries.”

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