Themes

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 230

One of the primary themes that John Dower explores is the importance of race and racism in World War II, especially in the Pacific Theater. Within this overarching theme, Dower explores the ways that racist ideologies and stereotypes were used by both the United States and Japan. In addition, he lays out the theme that racism within the United States increased because of the war. This ties in closely to the theme of propaganda and the media as vehicles for promoting racism, sometimes dominating patriotism even more than they supported it. One significant contribution is Dower’s exploration of racism in association with nuclear weaponry used against Japan but not against Germany.

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Because the United States entered World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, most people in the United States blamed Japan for U.S. involvement, including loss of service members’ lives. Blatantly racist caricatures and rhetoric greatly accelerated from December 1941 onward, quickly overtaking anti-German sentiments expressed in various media. The idea that imperialist aggression was racially motivated was one component of the criticisms against Japanese invasion and takeover of Pacific territories. Dower’s research, however, uncovered that in Japan, the same rhetoric appears in attacking U.S. motivations and actions, including the U.S. presence in the Philippines and Hawaii. Furthermore, condemning U.S. hypocrisy because of anti-black racism was a prominent feature of Japanese propaganda.

Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial....

(The entire section contains 363 words.)

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