Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An Exchange of Views

Paul Fussell was born on March 22, 1924 in California. He is noted as a cultural and literary historian. He has published many books on topics that include English literature, wars, and social classes, as well as, a memoir of his life. An award he had received for his writing was the National Book Award for Arts and Letters for The Great War and Modern Memory. In 1943 he was drafted into the United States military and by 1944 he had landed in France to fight. During his service he saw front line action and fought the Germans in Alsace where he was seriously wounded. After his time of service he spoke out against the military and blamed them for what today we would call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He firmly believed that it dehumanize it’s soldiers and romanticized warfare. Fussell received his Ph. D. from Harvard University and spend his years teaching at many well known universities around the country and abroad.

Michael Walzer was born on March 3, 1935. He is a political philosopher and public intellectual, as well as, an author of numerous books, journals, and essays on topics that include war, nationalism, and ethnicity. Also, he is identified as one of the leading supporters of the “Communitarian” position in political theory. People who follow in the communitarian philosophy believe in the balance of rights and interests between the individual and the community as a whole. Walzer was a professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton for many years as well as at Harvard University.

In An Exchange of Views Walzer states his opinion on Fussell’s Thank God for the Atomic Bomb. He feels that Fussell’s argument is of a soldier as well of a general who believes in a speedy conclusion to war with a means possible. “With Fussell, it seems there are no limits at all; anything goes, so long as it helps to bring the boys home.” Walzer compares the military bombing of Hiroshima to that of terrorists, giving it a political, not military purpose. A third argument of Walzer is that in war there is a moral obligation and that “combat should be a struggle between combatants, and that noncombatants… should be protected.” However, that was not the case when the atomic bombs were dropped. Too many innocent lives were lost when other means could have been sought out, believes Walzer.

Fussell retorts Walzer’s words and defends his standpoint. Fussell feels that they do not agree on an emotional level. Fussell says that his “article on Hiroshima was to complicate, even mess up, the moral picture” and that being portrayed as “terrorists” is oversimplifying it. He states that he was horrified by the bombing, as well as, happy because it saved his life. His objective of writing the article “was to offer a soldier’s view, to indicate the complex moral situation of knowing that one’s life has been saved because others’ have been most cruelly snuffed out.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Howard Zinn is a historian, playwright, and social activist. Zinn was raised in a working-class family in Brooklyn, NY. He was a shipyard worker and Air Force bombardier before he went to college under the GI Bill and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. Flying bombing missions for the United States in World War II was an experience that influenced him to oppose war. In 1956, he became a professor at Spelman College in Atlanta, a school for black women. There he got involved in the Civil rights movement. He participated as an adviser to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and chronicled, in his book SNCC: The New Abolitionists. Zinn later collaborated with historian Staughton Lynd and mentored a young student named Alice Walker. When he was fired in 1963 for insubordination related to his protest work, he moved to Boston University, where he became a leading critic of the Vietnam War. He also wrote the influential book, A People’s History of the United States, which is widely used in college and University class room around the country.

Hiroshima: Breaking the Silence
In this article Howard Zinn argues that the dropping of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki goes beyond a country fighting facism, or the United States fighting a war with Japan. He argues that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were wiped out to make a point. Racism played a huge role in the decision to drop these two bombs. “The persistent notion that the Japanese were less than human probably played some role in the willingness to wipe out two cities populated by people of color.” According to this article there was plenty of evidence that showed that Japan would have surrendered even if the atoic bombs had not been dropped. The argument that casualties were going to be less if the atomic bombs were dropped than having a US invasion in Japan to Zinn is considered pointless. Japanese were on the verge of surrender, evidence showed that a simple declaration on keeping the position of the Emperor would have brought the war toa an end, and no invasion was necessary. Another argument that Zinn makes for the dropping of the two bombs is that were being used to try out new weaponry, since the Nagasaki bomb used plutonium and the Hiroshima bomb contained only uranum atoms. Human life was being sacrificed for techonoligical progress and “that is part of the history of modern civilization.”
The bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 within a few moments killed aprox. 140,000 men, women, and children. Three days later the bomb dropped in Nagasaki killed perhaps 70,000 instanly. In the next five years 130,000 inhabitants of those two cities died of radiation poisoning.

Swing in WWII

The period during WWII in America represented a period of immense patriotic pride and unity in an effort to defend and protect a wounded nation who had been attacked without having provoked it. This sentiment of national unification was displayed in many ways in different spheres of America's society. Music played a vital role in the support of the war effort and became the inspiration for many to take an active role by enlisting in the Armed Forces. A great contributor to the cause of using music as a medium to spread the patriotic sentiment to every corner of America was Glenn Miller.

Glenn Miller was a successful band director and musician who became very successful during the early years of WWII. His unique style and unusually proper way of handling the many times disordered and sometimes decadent music industry, made him a very admired and sought-after entertainer. In addition, Miller created a new, all American form of swing, which contrary to the reigning style of swing -fast, upbeat and characterized by solo instrumentation and an urban feel-, was sweeter, more melodic and homogeneous (no instrumental solos) and dealt with romantic and small town themes:

"Besides merging swing and sweet, city and town, Miller consciously sought to
build and all-American team that fused the ethnic big city and the Protestant

Besides changing the sound of swing, Miller's most amazing act was to leave his prominent music career to enlist in the military, showing his support and becoming an example of true love for the nation.

Although he left a very profitable business behind, Miller had the opportunity to bring his music and his message to American troops everywhere. He formed bands, dancing and singing groups and other types of entertainment, because he realized that although he was a musician, his abilities lied on the managerial aspect of entertainment. This ability of leadership was specially useful for him during his military career.

During WWII, service bands were racially segregated, a trait Miller shared in the process of forming his musical groups. His ensembles were 100% white, opposite contemporary non-military swing bands which were composed of white and black musicians. However, the all-American traditional values and small town reminiscent themes transcended class and ethnic lines. Miller's style of swing became accepted and embraced by all Americans, no matter their class, age or ethnic background. Most of all, Miller's swing was preferred by young Americans who were influenced to internalize the national patriotism derived by these songs.

The popular music of WWII made Americans hate what the enemy cultures stood for and made them love everything America symbolized, promoting the support of American citizens for their troops and thus, promoting morale.

"Swing symbolized a war to defend an American way of life under attack."

Music in the home front became a crucial part of the war with the help of the government and the music industry cooperatively. The goal was to bring a message of unity and patriotism to all Americans and to show the spirit of the American citizens to the rest of the world.

Miller made his final sacrifice when his plane vanished over the English channel on December 15, 1944. His death and ultimate sacrifice made him and icon, and his legacy still continues.

Race, Language, and War in Two Cultures by: John Dower

This piece written by John Dower looks at how the two cultures of the Americans and Japanese saw and depicted each other during ww2. What I got from it is that though both sides were very racist towards one another it seemed to me that the Americans were a more cruel in how they described and pictured the Japanese. Americans took to dehumanizing the Japanese, making them look like small ape like or monkey like creatures, were the Japnese made the Americans look more like evil gods. The U.S.'s drawnigs or artwork made the Japanese look more cartoonish, while Japanese artwork was stylish and made the Allies look like demonic gods. No matter what this was all to make sure that when each side fought there was no way a soldier would have any feelings of remorse when killing the enemy. The propaganda of all these posters no matter what side was to ensure the soldiers fought to the end and did there job. Here on this post I found some Japnese poster and you can see that unlike the American ones, the Japanese posters seem a little more artistic in some ways. Look at the one of the samuri it's very darmatic. Also there are some German and Italian posters, hope you all enjoy what I found.

WW2 Propganda Posters

These are just some of the posters I found online that were being printed back during WW2. It shows how the Japanese and Germans were portrayed, it has some racial tones that today would be unacceptable. But we need to remember that this was the 1940's, so these things were more common back then. I also put a couple here I found intresting, hope you find them all intresting as well. Here's the link

WWII posters - a set on Flickr

Monday, October 26, 2009

 The Good War-Rosemary Hanley 

The war was depicted by Terkel as good, the bad, and ugly memories of it. His book is based on the many interviews from soldiers that have gone to the war. Their stories had made a positive and negative impact on Americans because it opened many opportunities that they never had in life. For example, women were beneficial of this situation, it launched them to have the opportunity to depend on their salaries when they were allowed to work in factories making munition for the war. 

The negative impacts were that many families lost their sons, and many women lost their husbands to go war. For example, Rosemary Hanley a woman from Chicago lost her husband, Kevin, who was fighting overseas. 

In the wartime, there were other ethnic groups besides from the white working-class, Hispanic, and African American fought to defend America. To live in a safer environment is very valuable, since the attack of Pear Harbor America did not want to be attacked that way in which many people lost their lives. For many citizens, World War II was not a celebration, it is tragic history that will always be remembered. Like in the case, of Hanley who suffer all her life for the lost of her husband. Even though she got married with John Hanley. Kevin's best friend. Kevin's memories were always with her and in the mind of John who always had bad memories of how he perished in the war.

Many soldier suffered psychological problems due to the physically and mental memories experienced  during the wartime.  The war was won, the facism was defeated, but the majority of the soldiers never forgot what they went through. As Hanley depicted there were many nostalgic memories and scary times in which a person did not care about their life anymore, because in one minute or two one could lose his or her life. 

The war gave many soldiers a lot courage to continue to receive orders when in battle. The  soldiers only wanted to win the war and come home with their families and live a regular life without obstacles. Instead they were always disturbed by the tragic incidents that will always come back and interfere with their thoughts.