How did World War II’s aftermath led to a broader knowledge of struggles for equality around the globe?How did World War II’s aftermath led to a broader knowledge of struggles for equality...
How did World War II’s aftermath led to a broader knowledge of struggles for equality around the globe?
Equality is a very broad topic and it is difficult to gauge Americans' actual awareness in the late 1940s, but let me give it a shot.
I think the most likely and obvious example of Americans becoming more aware of the struggles around the globe was how they identified and sympathized with the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. At this point the United States, which had been a largely anti-Semitic (anti-Jewish) society became much more understanding and sympathetic towards them, and helped lead world support for the establishment of Israel.
Americans read about and empathized with the other large refugee populations, and the way conquered peoples in Indochina, China, the Philippines and Korea had been treated by the Japanese Empire. So in a larger sense, I think Americans abandoned the social isolationism in their minds after the war and took a broader world view that valued equality. I think they also likely believed that as Americans, they were the ones who could help provide and protect that equality.
I think that there can be much in way of connection made between the struggles for independence and the outcome of the Second World War. The results of the war had worldwide implications on both idealistic and practical levels. On one hand, with the victory of the Allies, the message to the world was that freedom and independence are worthy of conflict and the affirmation of these values served as symbolic merit to other nations such as former colonies who sought to be free. On a more practical level, Europe was devastated by the economic, social, and geographic totals of the war. This prevented Europe from being able to exercise the same hold on their colonies as they had done in the past. Practical ramifications on a domestic level allowed the struggle for equality and independence to be realities that nations could now articulate, and controlling powers had no choice but to release them for colonies could no longer be afforded.
When you say this, do you mean to ask how Americans got a broader knowledge of these struggles for equality?
If that is the case, I think that Americans became more aware of these because many of these struggles were between colonized people and Europeans who were allied with the United States. In these cases, the US ended up having to make decisions -- would they support, for example, the French who wanted to keep Vietnam as a colony or would they support the Vietminh who wanted freedom. The same issues came up in Indonesia with the Dutch.
Because these colonial powers were allies of the US, Americans became much more aware of the nationalist movements and struggles for equality within those countries.