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Blog post 10/19

After reading the article, “World War Two Was Not a Just War,” and the PHUS chapter, “A People’s War,” I was honestly in shock. Throughout my history classes and other parts of my education, I was under the impression that the U.S. was somewhat of a hero during World War 2. I thought that America helped to saved Jewish people from the concentration camps. This seems to be an ongoing theme throughout American History that in early education young Americans are taught about how heroic and great our country is but as I continue to learn more details and I am exposed to different perspectives America is not as great as we think. 

Zinn discusses how the U.S. only entered the war after Pearl Harbor got bombed by Japan. Roosevelt portrayed the bombing as a shocking and terrible event but in reality, Roosevelt expected that the bombing was going to happen. Zinn talks about how the U.S. used the bombing of Pearl Harbor as an opportunity to advance in foreign relations and America’s image. This is surprising to learn because in history books and other parts of early American education this idea is often avoided. 

It was interesting to me when Zinn compared FDR and the Holocaust to Lincoln and the Civil War. It is viewed that FDR and Lincoln were fighting for human rights but instead, they both had other motives as well behind their actions. American’s view FDR as someone who fought for the human rights of Jewish people in the Holocaust and a hero during WW2 but he actually had other intentions such as economic interests in mind. This chapter of PHUS and the article gave me a new perspective on America’s intentions during World War 2 and these intentions are much different than what I have been taught in my American education.

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4 Comments

  1. Henry Groves Henry Groves

    I had no idea that FDR and the US government already had plans to join the war before the attack on Pearl Harbor. I think this plays into the fact that FDR’s reasoning to join the war was not all based on the preservation of human rights, but rather to boost the United States’ international power around the world.

  2. Sofia Adams Sofia Adams

    I also never knew about Roosevelt having knowledge of Pearl Harbor. Can Roosevelt actions be justified with Pearl Harbor? If he knew that the allies had a stronger chance of victory if the US was involved and Pearl harbor was a way to get civilian support and create a good public image of America? Do the consequences of Pearl Harbor justify the devastation and lives lost? If it ultimately led to victory over the Nazis?

  3. Michael Stein Michael Stein

    I agree that the United States uses World War 2 to add another story to the American national myth. Like other stories that are included in these nation-building myths, the United States is displayed to kids and adults throughout the country as the hero of WW2. In reality, it was not. The US provoked Japan and the east while the USSR won the war in Europe. I think teaching a more accurate version of history would encourage Americans to oppose the endless spending on our military. Indeed, much of our military spending is justified by our self-designated “defender of democracy” status. Indeed, this belief is fed by our understanding of ourselves as the heros in history. Destroying these myths of our national history would help refocus our country’s priorities.

  4. Pierce Kaliner Pierce Kaliner

    I found it very hard to believe that FDR and the American military knew about the attack on Pearl Harbor before it happened, so I did some research. And, it is a conspiracy theory similar to the one saying that Bush knew about 9/11 before it happened. I am honestly very disappointed that Zinn and Swanson are pushing that narrative.

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