How did the government define and create patriotism during WWI?How did the government define and create patriotism during WWI?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is an interesting question, because we often criticize the Nazis for their use of propaganda.  Propaganda by definition assumes or creates an uneducated populace.  Our government had plenty of anti-German propaganda, but the worst in my opinion was the attacks on Japanese-Americans.  These people were basically Americans, living in this country and a part of the fabric of society.  They were already being discriminated against, and the propaganda solidified that.  It spread misinformation about spying and internment camps, leading to sanctioned discrimination.

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catd1115 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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Propaganda is the ultimate tool in creating patriotism, especially during a time of war. The United States had yet to really prove itself as a world power and that was essential to getting the nation behind the war effort. The idea the we must show their we are right and that we are mighty weighed heavily. In addition much propaganda was aimed at the homefront with the saving of food, etc. It equated being a good American with being a good supporter of the war.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Since the presidential election had in part been based on "He kept us out of war," it was essential that our government get the American people behind it. They did this by defining patriotism as supporting of the war. Yes it did this be demonizing world leaders. Let's not forget, however, that this was a world war, and the country who came out on top would have significant power.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In some ways, the government felt propaganda was necessary to rally the population behind a war they had purposefully stayed out of up until 1917.  Woodrow Wilson had been re-elected in 1916 on a campaign slogan of "He Kept Us Out of War", so to get Americans behind the war effort, he needed to turn public opinion on a dime, as it were.  Propaganda was a vehicle he hoped would help to do this, by dehumanizing an demonizing the Kaiser and Germans, and motivating a public towards war production, enlistment and sacrifice.

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kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Another way that the US and other governments have tried to develop patriotic fervor is to portray the other side as less than or different in important ways.  If you look at political cartoons of the time and the way that Nazis or Japanese are depicted, there are many elements of de-humanization and "othering" as some have referred to it.  This in turn makes it easier to condone and even cheer for the wanton killing and destruction of the other side.

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Woodrow Wilson saw the advantages and dangers of propaganda. He once said,

once lead this people into war, and they will there was ever such a thing as tolerance.

Among the other efforts to define and create patriotism was the Espionage Act of 1917, which provided stiff penalties for refusing to serve in the armed forces, giving aid to the enemy, or circulating false reports with the intent to interfere with the War effort. The Sedition Act of 1917 also made it illegal to write or publish anything critical of the Government, Constitution, Army or Navy. Over 1000 people were convicted under the Acts, including Eugene V. Debs, who had said he was opposed to the War. The acts were upheld byt he Supreme Court in Schenk vs. United States, when Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes elucidated on the "clear and present danger" doctrine. All of this was an effort to define and create patriotism in the fact of the War.

 

 

 

 

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The main way that the government defined and created patriotism was through the creation of the Committee on Public Information, or CPI.  This was a body that was set up to create and disseminate what could be called propaganda -- information (whether completely accurate or not) that would tend to make people support the war.

This effort had both "light" and "dark" sides.  It encouraged people to identify themselves as Americans and to feel that their country was in the right.  However, it did this in part by demonizing its opponents.  This led to a major backlash against all things German, including many Americans of German descent.  This included one episode of the lynching of a German-American.

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itsoniax3 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Another way that the US and other governments have tried to develop patriotic fervor is to portray the other side as less than or different in important ways.  If you look at political cartoons of the time and the way that Nazis or Japanese are depicted, there are many elements of de-humanization and "othering" as some have referred to it.  This in turn makes it easier to condone and even cheer for the wanton killing and destruction of the other side.

the period of time that your examples are giving were during WW II

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