The immense amount of propaganda used to begin, and continue, the United States’ involvement in the war for mainly economic and political reasons sounds almost unprecedented in the modern era. Although I previously knew both the “real” reason for the beginning of America’s involvement, trade and allyship with England and its counterparts and the “fake” reason, the Lusitania, I was still shocked by the amount of government pressure placed onto Americans. My favorite part of how Zinn tells this piece of history is by mixing in the smaller stories of rebellion, that people would have been talking about and passing around, in with the more major and recorded parts of history, therefore making me feel involved and connected to the past. The most compelling anti-war stories to me were that of Kate Richards O’Hare of the socialist movement and Eugene Debs.
Kate Richards’s small act of rebellion in the Missouri state penitentiary added to the humanistic aspect of the war that the Socialist Party was trying to represent. The United States tried painting the war as a war for the soul of the nation, but what many would consider the “soul” of our nation today, rural Americans, and farmers did not see a good reason to join. The United States government attacked this issue from every angle like legislation, songs, publications, gatherings, speeches, ads, businesses/unions, and more, just as their opposition was doing. This reminds me a lot of modern politics and government tactics, but obviously with a different context. Today we interpret hundreds of different things that could, and probably should be considered propaganda but we just see regular publications. How crucial is propaganda for running a country during a time of emergency? Is having a “unified country”, through intimidation and indoctrination, or is it more important to support American allies in terms of enacting war? Would/could the same type of propaganda be used even with social media today?