Propaganda and Its Effect on America

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Thesis: Propaganda was a tool that leaders used to get people involved in wars of the past.

Propaganda, a term that only reminds people of corruption and manipulation. Others, it reminds of advertising and raising American spirit. Well, they are both right. ["Propaganda" Pg. 1, sec.1]

Propaganda is a specific type of message presentation aimed at serving an agenda. At its root, propaganda is to propagate (spread around) a certain position or point of view, rather than just reporting the facts. Most propaganda is associated with politics or war time. It is used to help unite countries, especially the U.S. in the past. [Pg. 1, sec. 1]

Most propaganda that people have heard of came from World War II in Nazi, Germany. They would be surprised to learn that the U.S. has done the same thing in the past. [Pg. 1, sec. 1]

Before World War I, uninterrupted public support was thought to be critical to all the wartime effort. In 1917, Wilson created the War Aims Committee on Public Information (CPI) to promote World War One Nationally, while advertising America overseas. Under the guidance of a journalist named Creel, the CPI gathered people from different aspects all over the world. The CPI mixed advertising techniques with a refined understanding of human psychology; its efforts represent the first time that a modern government distributed propaganda on such a large scale. It is intriguing that this occurrence, often linked with totalitarianism, emerged in a democratic state. [Pg. 1, sec. 14]

Also, being that video was more popular than written propaganda, they begin to make videos. One propaganda video I came across was of an American citizen pretending to be a Japanese man in a very racially discriminating way. The man was obviously a fake Japanese man who was made to look Japanese by using stereotypes and donning a very obviously fake Japanese accent. ["My Japan" Pg. 2, sec. 2]

The video went on to try and convince Americans at home that Japan was to strong and formidable opponent in the war using Japanese newsreels. By using stereotypes and fear (see "Types of Propaganda"), America was trying to get America to accept their idea that the war was a good thing. [Pg. 2, sec. 2]

Yet another example would be around Pearl Harbor. Right after Pearl Harbor, propaganda helped unite people in the U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared his Pearl Harbor address in which he used words to raise emotions, such as: "sudden deliberate attack, solicitation of Japan, deceive U.S." This succeeded in promoting anger against Japan. [ Haraoka "War and Propaganda"]

Also, there were posters portraying Japanese as rattlesnakes, making America see itself as superior and Japan as an inferior country. FDR also used religion by implying that God was on America's side. [ Haraoka ]

Another example of propaganda was an article about the success of Enron, a company that shortly after was proven to destroy important documents and crash in the stock market. ["Propaganda" Pg. 1, sec. 19]

Enron Named Most Innovative for Sixth Year
"HOUSTON -- Enron Corp. was named today the ‘Most Innovative Company in America' for the sixth consecutive year by Fortune magazine. ‘Our world-class employees and their commitment to innovative ideas continue to drive our success in today's fast-paced business environment,' said Kenneth L. Lay, Enron chairman and CEO. ‘We are proud to receive this accolade for a sixth year. It reflects our corporate culture which is driven by smart employees who continually come up with new ways to grow our business.' Enron placed No.18 overall on Fortune's list of the nation's 535 ‘Most Admired Companies,' up from No. 36 last year. Enron also ranked among the top five in ‘Quality of Management,' ‘Quality of Products/Services' and ‘Employee Talent.' ["Propaganda Pg.1, sec. 19]

This propaganda may have persuaded thousands or maybe millions of Americans to hold stock in a company that was falsely reported to...
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