War Without Mercy By Dower Essay

1609 words - 6 pages

War Without Mercy by Dower

In “War Without Mercy”, Dower’s principle is a surprising one: Though Western allies were clearly headed for victory, pure racism fueled the persistence and increase of hostilities in the Pacific setting during the final year of World War II, a period that saw as many casualties as in the first five years of the conflict combined. Dower does not reach this disturbing conclusion lightly. He combed through loads of propaganda films, news articles, military documents, and cartoons. Though his case is strong, Dower reduces other factors, such as the prolonged negotiations between the West and the Japanese.
During World War II, with the alliance of Germany and Italy made a propaganda campaign of obvious anti-white racism somewhat unreasonable. Furthermore, Japan's history of rapid and often passionate Westernization while opposing to colonialization by western powers largely prohibited such a propaganda approach. It is Dower's central idea that racial fear and hate were major factors that determined how both sides, Japanese and Anglo-American, perceived and dealt with the respective enemy, the "formulaic expression of Self and Other."
Dower begins by examining the propaganda thrown out by both war machines (including a Frank Capra documentary, Know Your Enemy - Japan) and finds fundamental patterns of stereotyping. A few clichés that were found in this film was that it originally portrayed the Japanese as ordinary humans victimized by their leaders. "In everyday words," he writes, the "first kind of stereotyping could be summed up in the statement: you are the opposite of what you say you are and the opposite of us, not peaceful but warlike, not good but bad...In the second form of stereotyping, the formula ran more like this: you are what you say you are, but that itself is reprehensible." (30)
Japan, Germany and Italy, all world powers with great leaders and whose people were in great quantity. Overall, the Why We Fight films reflect the strategic priorities of the U.S. government and focused primarily on the struggle in the West. A Japanese equivalent to this series is titled The Battle of China. This was an epic paean to the resistance of the Chinese people against Japan’s aggression. Through all of the destruction and devastation of the Japanese, they come with this counterpoint that was heightened by a commentary in which Japan’s rhetoric of “co-existence and co-prosperity” was recited while the screen showed the devastation of China’s cities and the mutilated corpses of its men, women, and children.
"In the United States and Britain," Dower reminds us, "the Japanese were more hated than the Germans before as well as after Pearl Harbor. On this, there was no dispute among contemporary observers. They were perceived as a race apart, even a species apart -- and an overpoweringly monolithic one at that. There was no Japanese counterpart to the 'good German' in the popular consciousness of the Western Allies."...

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