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Blog Post 10/21

In Zinn’s chapter, “Or Does it Explode?” he discusses the development of the Civil Rights movement in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. The rise of the Communist Party played a role in the push of the movement into a larger, more emphasized demand for change. There were already hostile feelings towards the Communist Party which created the image of black communists as more dangerous and militant. I thought an interesting idea in the chapter was the reasons behind the government’s decisions to appoint a Committee on Civil Rights. There was the moral reason, the economic reason which was that discrimination was wasteful of talent, and the international reaon where the world was beginning to question and judge the United States’ democracy as fraud. The United States had become a large power in the international community and threats to this were seen as very concerning. A pattern that was seen throughout the movement was that the government passed laws in reaction to violence and revolts and in concern of their international image. There was little to be done about changing the deep-rooted issues of racism and poverty that was the true foundation of the Civil Rights Movement. There also seemed to be little to no push to change people’s deep-rooted opinions, views, and feelings towards inequality and civil rights. The government would make small changes, hoping they would draw more attention and create a bigger impact, without making fundamental changes to prevent an “explosive situation”. 

Something that Zinn continuously pointed out was how the federal government stood by and did not intervene in defense of the black movement. I have noticed this described in many different accounts and experiences of people involved in the Civil Rights movement showing how the police and government often stood by or fought against the movement even when it was a peaceful resistance. The Freedom Rides are an example of this where people were beaten and buses were destroyed without any sort of intervention or prevention from the police or government officials. This is extremely disappointing and must have been very frustrating to the supporters of the movement where they felt unprotected and in danger of their own government. These feelings of dissatisfaction towards the government with the issue of civil rights and equality in the United States are still very present today and creates very antagonistic perceptions that make it difficult for real change to occur. 

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Blog Post 10/19

In Zinn’s chapter titled “A People’s War” I read and learned a lot about the history of American government. On top of this, I learned that the United States not only promotes the support of right winged governments outside of America, but we go as far as to say that we identify with a lot of conservative customs. For example, we continue to use the United States Constitution as a major resource for shaping policy. The Constitution and countless other major documents that still hold relevance in America today reference spiritual and religious views. While I had never done so before, I quickly realized that I think Zinn is right about our direct affiliation with the right in a multitude of avenues. Then when I thought about the the religious aspect of our nations history, I realized that it seems as though the conservative christian man is the epitome of what America stands for. Not immigration, or diversity. Not half of the things we claim to stand for. This was eye opening to me and really helped me grasp the reality that is often hidden from Americans.

We also read an excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr. This too sparked reflection in me. The Civil Rights Movement is remembered by Americans as a triumph for black people. As a time of great change. I think it is evident not a ton of change has been made. I was able to connect this piece to the chapter in Zinn because they are both examples of areas in which our country  has been able to manipulate the memory we have of certain events. Not many people look at the movement as a failure. Not many people look at America as a conservative affiliated nation. Yet they so clearly are both of those things. I really wonder what else we have a misconception of and what we can do to help change the false narratives we have in our minds.

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Blog Post for 10/21/20

In history, we are taught to see Martin Luther King Jr. as a very important figure in the Civil Rights movement. In fact, he played one of the biggest roles, so we are taught. We know that he is a great leader, as he is very charismatic. One of the most important things he was able to do for the Civil Rights movement was communicate negro aspirations to white people. He was a controversial leader who challenged authority, but so were other people. In podcast 16, we learn that because Malcom X had prior connections to crime, MLK was seen as a better face for the movement. We also learn that Claudette Colvin was the first woman to refuse to move from the white section on a bus, not Rosa Parks. Colvin’s mother told her that Parks would be a better face for this movement because Parks was liked by white people; she had more straight hair, lighter skin, and wasn’t a teenager who got pregnant such as Colvin. While I have learned about Malcom X before, I had never heard Colvin’s name before this podcast. I am sure if I did more research on my own, I would have read about her, but I was never taught about her in my years of history. What I left wondering, is why do certain people get more attention than other’s? Maybe Rosa Parks was a better “face” for the movement, but it frustrates me that because Colvin didn’t look a certain way or have a perfect track record, she didn’t get any attention.

In Carson’s reading, it is discussed that if King never lived, eventually movement toward racial equality would have happened. This makes sense because all these other people had a role in the Civil Rights movement, but why then do they not get recognized.  We know King is a charismatic leader, but Carson even tells us that King was very aware of his flaws. No one is perfect, so why does history teach us that King is this hero who had no flaws? Don’t get me wrong, he definitely did a lot for the movement, but we know other people did too.

One final thing that stood out to me in Carsons reading was a quote at the end. He writes, ” The notion that appearances by Great Men (or Great Women) are necessary preconditions for the emergence of major movements for social change reflects not only poor understanding of history, but also a pessimistic view of the possibilities for future social change.” Carson is basically saying that for social change to be possible, we don’t need someone who is “Great.” It can be someone who is ordinary, or has flaws. He also says that this belief that anyone who can lead social change has to be great, is a poor understanding of history. By this, Carson means that if that’s our belief, then we don’t have a full understanding of who leaders actually were. For example, we celebrate Columbus for coming to America, even though he forced Indigenous people off land that was theirs first. He’s not perfect, the same way most leaders in history aren’t perfect. This quote emulates the view that I took from today’s readings; not every leader is perfect, in fact some are far from it, but I am still left wondering why some people gain a heroic view in history, while others don’t.

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Blog Post 10/21

I found this chapter of Zinn’s book and the little excerpt about Dr. King one of the most important things we’ve done so far. I have recently been learning about the truth of the Civil Rights Movement in my other leadership class, so I was really excited to learn more and to reinforce what I have been learning. All of this information has shifted my perspective of the movement and also has given me a new perspective on the current civil unrest in the US. In the history books and history classes, we are taught that the Civil Rights Era was an unprecedented time for change and that the whole nation came together to listen to Martin Luther King Jr. and immediately put an end to racism once and for all. However, only now I am realizing that the movement was actually a time of disappointment for many African Americans. It wasn’t an instant and revolutionary change that occurred overnight. We are still facing these problems today because of the lack of success of the Civil Rights Movement. History books want us to believe that one day, all of a sudden, Martin Luther King Jr. said “I have a dream” and that all the racists in America disappeared and changed their ways. Further, history wants to reinforce how peaceful all the protesting was and idolize King’s love instead of Malcolm X’s rage. This view of history is honestly incorrect and it only tells one side of the story. This history doesn’t depict how the Supreme Court rulings were passed but were never enforced or taken seriously.

I honestly think that the idolization of Dr. King and him becoming a martyr and a myth was a deliberate action by white people in power to suppress racial unrest. I think that it was on purpose that his birthday is given a national holiday and not the more radical Malcolm X. Using what I know now, I think historians and people in power chose King to immortalize and turn into a larger than life entity because he enforced nonviolence and love. Nonviolence obviously has its advantages, however when problems escalate to the point where there is no other option than complete upheaval, this course of action loses any efficiency or power. However, I think this may be the point. It is very possible that King was chosen to represent this movement to show future oppressed generations that nonviolence is the way to go because it is easier to suppress and subdue. This is honestly a manipulation tactic, instilling in our national history a lesson of how to approach oppression. If our nation had a national holiday for Malcolm X, then his wishes and views would be spoken more and would be more likely to be used by future generations. However, his ideas of radicalism and revolutionism are the last thing people in power want to instill in the public because it would jeopardize their power standing. It would lead to more oppressed groups taking control of their oppression in a way that would make people in power feel uncomfortable. This blatant misconception of the past is why we are still experiencing civil unrest and racism today and is also why the riots were being condemned, even though the riots were the only thing that actually persuaded the government to enforce the rulings they passed in the Civil Rights Era.

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Blog Post for 10/19

As goes for most of the things I read, watch, or listen to for this class, I find it alarming how easy it is for the US to twist narratives to make us seem like the heros of every situation, when in reality we are very often extremely hypocritical and in the wrong. For another class I’m currently taking about cultural pluralism and nationalism, we learned that one of the most effective ways to indoctrinate nationalism into the minds of the people of a given nation is through public education, setting the standards of what our kids grow up learning about the country we live in. It makes sense that we, as a general population, tend to have such strong sense of patriotism in 0ur domestic and foreign affairs, seemingly, from what I’ve heard from people who live in or have traveled to another country, more so than what is typical. The way we learn history in the United States paints us as the best country in the world, effectively making the geneal population believe this to be true, whether or not it is.

Another thing I found particularly interesting from Zinn’s chapter “A People’s War?” was the idea that the United States would go out to protect right-leaning governments. I guess when thinking in the context of the general red scare and fear of liberal radicals it makes sense that we would support those who lean farther right, but it was a little eye-opening to see it phrased so boldly. I never considered the United States as a country or our government to sway towards any ideology or political affiliation outside of whichever party had control of the branches at the time, but when you take a step back, it makes sense that we would be considered right-leaning. Perhaps it’s just the extra division these days that causes the connotation, but I feel a little uneasy living in a country that openly is defined and will openly financially support right-wing dictators and military states all for the sake of avoiding the widely-feared left.

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October 21 Blog post M. Childress

The second reading for Wednesday’s class gave me an interesting, new perspective that I had not really thought about before. It discusses the way that throughout history we tend to naturally adopt the “Great Man” theory. It refers to Martin Luther King Jr. in talking about how the black rights movement most likely would have followed a fairly similar course (big picture) whether he was involved in it or not. Hearing this left me somewhat confused. I know that I have always been told that Dr. King spearheaded the civil rights movement in the mid 1900s, which is still true. However, this reading showed the importance of the surrounding context of the United States at the time, rather that pinpointing the effect of the civil rights movement directly to the cause that was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This reading wanted the reader to realize that Dr. King was far more than a charismatic leader who was able to evoke the emotions of the black community to mobilize them in their pursuit for equality and opportunity. While Dr. King was, without a doubt, a model charismatic leader, he also had doubts and fears below the surface that displayed a different side of him. King pushed confidently against unjust government regulations and social inequality with pride and passion, but internally he may have masked some of the doubt he was feeling. He was very aware of his own limits and his own weaknesses, and often feared his own life and those around him. Why is it though that in a revolution such as the civil rights movement, we want to pinpoint the cause to a singular person? Furthermore, why do we automatically see this leader as something far more than human, expecting them to not have their own doubts or struggles? We see this often in Great Man theory, especially with charismatic leaders, but does our inclination to want a perfect, powerful leader come from our own doubts and fears about ourselves, hoping that a “Great Man” or woman could save us?

I think that it is very important to discuss the social trends around the civil rights movement in the mid 1900’s and not give all credit or blame to one or a few powerful individuals. Yes, they had significant influence in various ways. However, as this reading describes, the people, social forces, social inequality, hunger for change, and internal mobilization of communities are the catalysts for the revolution. In my mind, leaders such as Dr. King instill confidence in these followers to act on their own feelings and emotions.

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Annie Waters 10/19/20

In “A People’s War?” Howard Zinn maintains PHUS’s theme of denouncing American imperialism, bringing its focus now onto American involvement in WWII. This was an extremely thought-provoking chapter for me, especially in consideration of Zinn’s discussion of Pearl Harbor. In my US History education, I had never learned about the causes of Pearl Harbor; I was always under the impression that it was a sudden, immoral attack from the Japanese that randomly killed American civilians. However, as Zinn notes, the federal government had been warned of provoking war with Japan after imposing sanctions on Japanese trade in response to Japan’s imposition on Chinese land that might have threatened America’s open-door economic policy in China. This is very indicative of America’s imperialist interests at the time preceding the war’s onset in the United States, and America’s economic drive escalated at the time that Hawaii, its door into the arena of Pacific trade, had been attacked.

I think it’s also very important to note the hypocrisy underlying the notion by which the United States claimed that their involvement in the War was motivated by a moral opposition to the ongoing genocide of Jewish people in Germany. First of all, Eugenics had gained popularity in the US decades before the onset of WWII, revealing that American History didn’t strictly reject the eugenic ideology behind Hitler’s “Final Solution.” Secondly, though the US likely recognized the Holocaust as immoral, it didn’t take much interest in participating in War because of the Holocaust alone. As Zinn notes, FDR deferred action pertaining to the Holocaust to the State Department, where “anti-Semitism and a cold bureaucracy became obstacles to action” (Zinn 415). Not only did the Imperialist threat of Pearl Harbor more effectively provoke the United States to participate in war than did the genocide of Jewish people, but during WWII, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, allowing the army to begin its establishment of Japanese internment camps, revealing a lack of inherent US opposition to concentration camps. At a time when the federal government directly condoned the internment of Japanese people, it was a rather bold move of the United States to claim wartime involvement on the basis of opposition to the concentration of Jewish people. Considering this, I think it’s extremely important to analyze all underlying factors (imperialism included) in studying the United States’ involvement in WWII in order to properly recognize the unethical aspects of US history so that future American policies can be driven by an understanding of the historical wrongs of which this country must avoid repetition.

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Jeffrey Sprung Blog Post for 10/19

The chapter “A People’s War” within Howard Zinn’s PHUS and the article “World War Two Was Not a Just War” by David Swanson both provided immense insight on the United States’ true motives and contributions during World War II. Both readings directly contradicted the information surrounding World War II that I previously learned in my history classes. First off, Zinn and Swanson both argue that Franklin D. Roosevelt provoked Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and knew of Japan’s impending attack on Pearl Harbor before it occurred. For example, Zinn mentions that “Japan’s strike against the American naval base climaxed a long series of mutually antagonistic acts [between the United States and Japan]” and that FDR, “repeatedly deceived the American people during the period before Pearl Harbor” (Zinn, 411). I was very surprised to learn that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was not actually the shocking, sudden attack that it is depicted as in many American history textbooks. I don’t necessarily  understand and agree with FDR’s supposed actions of instigating such an atrocious attack from the Japanese and not alerting the American people and troops prior to the Pearl Harbor attack. Secondly, both Zinn and Swanson oppose the United States decision to drop the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki after witnessing the horrific effects of the first atomic bomb, which they unleashed on Hiroshima. Zinn explains that the second atomic bomb largely targeted innocent civilians in Hiroshima, and “no one has ever been able to explain why it was dropped” (Zinn, 424). Zinn and Swanson’s viewpoints regarding atomic bombs which the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki largely differ from previous narratives surrounding the atomic bombs that I learned in high school as I was taught that the atomic bombs were essential in order to conclude World War II. Lastly, both Zinn and Swanson argue that the United States engagement in World War II was harmful due to the damage that they inflicted throughout the world. I always perceived the United States efforts in World War II as heroic and never really considered the fact that “U.S escalated the targeting of civilians, extended the war, and inflicted more damage than might have occured, had the U.S done nothing, attempted diplomacy, or invested in nonviolence” (Swanson).

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Morgan Crocker blog post 10/18

Just like all the other chapters in Howard Zinn’s book, the chapter on World War II showed me a view of the war I never learned about in any of my history classes. I was surprised by what really motivated the United States to enter the war, the U.S. world interests being threatened by Germany and Japan. In past history lessons they claimed they entered the war for morality reasons and painted the United States as the heroes, when in reality that’s false. They put Japanese-Americans in internment camps and they dropped 2 bombs on Japan without even giving a single warning to the civilians even though that was suggested. Also they still continued to bomb japan after receiving intel that Japan was considering peace allegations.
The U.S. used the bombings of Japan as a way to assert their dominance in the military, and to leave the war being one of the most powerful countries. The last thing that I fount interesting was how Zinn compared FDR to Lincoln. Zinn pointed out that we were taught in our history classes that they were fighting for human rights, when really they both had other motives during the civil war and WWII. FDR had economic interests at mind, but we were taught he fought for the human rights of jewish people during the holocaust and was an all around hero during WWII.

 

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Sam Hussey Blog Post 10/18

Howard Zinn’s chapter on World War II offered many counterarguments to the version of the war learning in standard textbooks. As Zinn points out, WWII is widely considered to be the most supported war in American History. The United States was standing up for democracy and fighting against oppression and overpowering regimes. The Nazis had invaded its neighbors, persecuted its people who were not part of the “Aryan Race” and done whatever is best for the economic needs of the German Reich. The difference between the United States’ strategy and the Germans was that the US kept its real motives away from the public eye. The Nazis were explicit in their anti-semitism and quest for global superiority. The United States was more subtle in their imperial conquests, claiming that they were promoting global democracy and just lending a hand to less developed countries. However, their true goals were to expand their sphere of influence across the world so they had as many trading partners as they wanted and very few enemies. The United States valued its economic assets above its social stances at this time because they kept sending oil to Italy even when Italy invaded Ethiopia. They also adopted appeasement stances in the thirties with Hitler’s regime to prevent a war that was already inevitable because they knew the war would be costly. The United States was focused on gaining trading partners abroad at all costs. If anything threatened their interests, they did what they could to tear it down. 

After the war, the main concern on the homefront became communism. The United States and the Soviet Union emerged as the two largest world powers after the Yalta conference, and both believed their governments were superior. The US government became obsessed with cracking down on spies and disloyalty following the war because they were nervous about communism spreading into their country. World War II fed right into the cold war because of the Truman Doctrine and the two world powers that emerged after the war. 

Every event has a cause and effect, and many historians like to play the blame game and trace back every event to something before it. David Swanson’s Article World War Two Was Not a Just War had many interesting claims about when this chain of wars during the twentieth century truly began. Swanson blamed World War I and the unsuccessful Treaty of Versailles for causing World War II, which is also believed by many historians, but the causes for World War I can be traced back even further. The top powers of the world are always looking out for their economic interests over anything else. This selfish point of view is the ultimate cause of conflict in the world. The United States is just as much to blame for this behavior as any other country, and it is probably the biggest culprit. As I discussed earlier, the US puts its economic interests as its number one priority. Swanson even discusses how Wall Street continued to fund Nazi Germany leading up to WWII even though they were suspected of being despotic and authoritative.

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Julia Leonardi // 10.17.2020

It is so weird to hear all of this. I feel like I’ve learned about World War Two a million times throughout my time in k-12, but never like this. What was really eye-opening that the United States claimed to have entered the war to uphold the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness while also being seen as the defender of helpless countries. When in fact the United States only entered the war when Germany and Japan threatened US world interests, and to seek out an “open door” policy in the Middle East for oil. They were also trying to look like the supreme world power, and they wanted to make sure that the winning nations were friendly with them.

It is interesting that they try to claim that they entered the war because of morality, but what was happening within the borders was immoral. They put Japanese- Americans into camps, and then claimed it to be a mistake when it wasn’t a mistake, they did it because they’re racist and have always been racist. I am not surprised that the US acted the way they did. It is sad that we have been manipulated into thinking of the US as a hero.

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10/19 blog post

I never knew that when Roosevelt went into the war it was for any reason other than human rights, the narrative that is told throughout grade school and high school. In some way, I guess this makes sense because, at the same time as we were fighting in the war, the US had Japanese internment camps, which were committing acts that violate human rights. This can also be seen in the fact that the US only entered the war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor when they felt threatened. The US The United States classifies this as a “mistake” but considering how we condemn Hitler’s concentration camps, the term “mistake” seems a little light to me.

Another thing that struck me was how Zinn talked about the bombings in Japan. Previous to this I had no idea that the suggestion of warning the civilians was made and ignored and also that the United States had intel that Japan was considering Peace allegations. The whole narrative I was told was that Japan would not surrender which is why the US was forced to drop two bombs and end the war. The US used the bombings to assert its military dominance and power and came out of the war as one of the most powerful countries in the war with the Soviet Union.

The hidden motives of the war were shocking to me. It made me question if the United States would have gotten involved in the war if Pearl Harbor had not happened? Would we have let the genocide continue because entering did nothing for us?

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Charley Blount Blog Post 10/19

Howard Zinn’s chapter, “A People’s War?” discusses United States interventionism in nations across the world following World War II. This movement, masked by anti-communist, anti-Soviet rhetoric, promoted American exceptionalism and resulted in the economic exploitation of nations attempting to recover from imperialism. The United States’ economic takeover of the global economy through exploitation was made possible by the establishment of international government organizations (IGOs) such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations, which consolidated power in the hands of the Allied Powers, with the United States at the helm. This monopolization of global influence by the United States was discussed by former Secretary of State Cordell Hull, who said, “Leadership toward a new system of international relationships in trade and other economic affairs will devolve very largely upon the United States because of our great economic strength. We should assume this leadership and the responsibility that goes with it, primarily for reasons of pure national self-interest” (Zinn 8495). This economic strength would be bolstered in the coming decades through US intervention into foreign governments with the use of covert, and not very covert, coups.

Beginning with the Truman administration, US interventionism was justified as a necessary method of communist prevention, balanced out by Soviet expansion, which “established a climate of fear… which would steeply escalate the military budget and stimulate the economy with war-related orders” (Zinn 8719). In the coming decades, the United States would, directly and indirectly, assist government rebellions across the world in an attempt to promote democracy. For example, the United States funneled weapons, money, and military advisors toward the pro-Democracy side of the Greek Civil War. That said, the “fight for Democracy” was not always the primary motive of the United States. In 1953, the CIA staged a coup d’etat that ousted democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh and replaced him with the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. This decision was made to allow the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (formerly Anglo-Persian, now BP) to maintain their oil monopoly. This pattern of US interventionism would persist into the twenty-first century (first and second Gulf Wars), legitimized by American Exceptionalism and the “world police” narrative. 

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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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Blog Post for 10/19- Zachary Andrews

I found the chapter “A People’s War?” from A People’s History of the United States to be very interesting because I never viewed World War II from the perspective that was addressed. Regarding the chapter from A People’s History of the United States, I have to agree with Zinn that World War II really was an imperialistic war. Prior to the Second World War, the United States and various other European nations had imperialistic foreign policies. They went around imposing their rule on any piece of land that they could. With Germany crushed economically and politically after World War I, they needed and wanted to get on the map by taking control over other countries. Hitler first took over Czechoslovakia and moved to Poland, Austria, France and more. At the same time, German’s allie, Italy, attempted to take over Ethiopia. During and before the war, the United States set up bases in nations in the Pacific frontier as well as in Europe. Another reason why I believe that the war was about imperialism was because after the Allied Powers got to Berlin, they divided it up between the United States, France, Britain, and the Soviet Union. Sticking with the same point, the Soviet Union imposed their lifestyle and their communist beliefs on the Eastern European nations, eventually making up the Communist Bloc.

Something else that Zinn brought up in the reading was the impact of World War II on the home front. While the men were fighting abroad, the role of the American women shifted. Now women were relied upon to work in factories to help the war effort. The reliance on women for the war effort not only helped the US win the war but also changed the role of the American women in society. World War II also helped the racial problem within the United States but only to an extent. The war helped to unite African Americans and whites. Similar to what happened with American Women, African Americans were relied on to serve in the military and aid in the fight towards winning the war. Lastly, the economy dramatically changed at the start of the war. Not only was the United States exporting goods to allied nations but they also employed thousands of workers to help build the supply of weapons, food, and other supplies that was needed by the American military. This is seen when reading that a textile mill that was referenced in the reading had a profit growth of over 600% between 1940 and 1946. Overall, World War II had a massive impact on the United States.

On another note, something else that Zinn addressed in this chapter that I didn’t recognize before was how self-centered the United States. The United States promoted and supported numerous independence movements in other countries; however, while the nation was unstable, they imposed themselves in the country often times by building military bases, and sending American businesses. An example of this was seen with Cuba and the United States. The US supported the Cuban independence movement against Spain. While the entire thing was going on, they built a military base on the island. With the rise of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, the US lost its influence in Cuba and its military base. Another self-centered moment in American history was when the United States demanded an Open Door Policy in China while also demanding a Closed Door Policy in Latin America. The last and most obvious form of the US being self-centered was its policy of imperialism. The United States took over numerous nations and territories throughout its history. Some examples have been Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and more.

 

 

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Blog Post 10/19

In this chapter of PHUS and the article we were assigned to read, I once again found myself shocked at the information I was presented with. World War 2 is one of our nation’s favorite topics to brag about and when seeing a negative light being shed upon it is something I have little exposure to. I have often heard the argument about whether the use of nuclear weapons was necceassry, but decides that not much other rebutal.

One of the topics I found most disturbing was when Zinn stated that Roosevelt would not publicly oppose Hitler’s actions , specifically his persecution of the Jewish people. I also found it interesting when Zinn made the comparison to Abraham Lincoln in that both of their decisions not to speak out against the apparent evil at the time was based off of political motive. Although I realize the presidents job is to do what is best for their country, should this come at the expense of millions of human lives?

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Christopher Wilson’s Blog Post 10/19

The Swanson article and Zinn’s (1980) chapter on “A People’s War?” did an excellent job of presenting another narrative about WWII. It amazes me how the United States continues to instill certain narratives and ideologies into its youth even after WWII ended 75 years ago, just so that the youth will not collectively overthrow the government and form a more just union and society. What specifically astonished me about WWII was this particular paragraph from Zinn’s chapter. Zinn writes, “Roosevelt was as much concerned to end the oppression of Jews as Lincoln was to end slavery during the Civil War; their priority in policy (whatever their personal compassion for victims of persecution) was not minority rights, but national power” (410). A recurring sentiment Zinn highlights throughout this chapter is how the United States’ involvement in WWII was not for humanitarian efforts. Instead, the U.S. was eager to feed its exceptionalism ideology by expanding its values of capitalism and democracy across Asia and Europe while maintaining those same systems and structures domestically. In response, I believe this is why Zinn questions Americans’ validity calling WWII “a people’s war” when so many wrongs against people- both domestically and internationally- were occurring at the hands of the United States government.

 

Moreover, I discovered another danger to the exceptionalism ideology. Suppose that you become the best at everything you wanted to be superior in after much sacrifice and effort. Is it equally possible that you would not be satisfied with your status in the world, and so you would continue to exploit others to feed this twisted hunger of yours? And, by twisted hunger, I mean the feeling of being chosen by God to lead everyone else through the darkness that surrounds our world since everyone is less than compared to you. Zinn presents a similar message as he quotes revolutionary pacifist A.J. Muste, “‘The problem after a war is with the victor. He thinks he has just proved that war and violence pay. Who will now teach him a lesson?’” (424). While there may be anticipation surrounding WWIII, I do know one thing: killing human beings is wrong no matter which side of the war you are on, and there’s not anything “good” nor “just” about that.

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Carly 10/19 Post

Zinn’s chapter, “A people’s War?” as well as the article “World War Two Was Not A Just War,” changed my perspective on the United States involvement and contributions to World War II. I had previously thought and been told that America did a good job in this war and contributed heavily to the freeing and helping of imprisoned Jews in Germany. However, both the chapter and the article proved otherwise. I was also surprised, but by no means shocked to find out that blacks were still treated so unfairly in America during World War II. 

Our country really didn’t advance before, during, or after World War II. War times are times when a country should be all hands on deck in giving the country the best tools and supplies for success. However, Zinn says, “Despite the urgent need for wartime labor, blacks were still being discriminated against for jobs,” and “Roosevelt never did anything to enforce the orders of the Fair Employment Practices Commission he had set up,” (Zinn 415). The fact that even in the country’s biggest times in need, during a World war, people and our own leader couldn’t get over their discriminations and biases, saddens me. Beyond this, proof that America did not advance before, during, or after the war is the 1960s in America. The rebellions in all aspects of life prove that the citizens were incredibly unhappy and felt the need to lash out in any way they could against the government.

 

2 Comments

Margot Roussel Blog Post 10-19

The arguments presented in Swanson’s “World War Two Was Not a Just War” caused me to stop and pause. I was always taught that World War II was America’s shining moment. Many times my school would go visit the National World War II Museum that was located just down town. Throughout the museum examples of America’s greatness were all over the wall. I remember my teacher telling me that if you went to a WWII museum in the UK, they paint themselves as the hero of the war, but no matter where you go this war was always presented as the fight against fascism and to protect the Jewish communities.

Therefore, when I read that the war wasn’t marketed as a humanitarian war until after I was surprised. I was taken aback that the United States did not accept many Jewish refugees and that the public was in agreement with this policy. Many of my close friends from home had grandparents that emigrated from Germany and other parts of Europe because they were Jewish and feared Hitlers rule. I don’t know how their lives would have been different had they not been allowed into the United States. Moreover, I found it horrific that the main reason citied was that it would be too difficult to transfer that many people to the United States. This whole ordeal made me wonder how much of our history has been reshaped to paint us in a better light.

3 Comments

Delaney Demaret Blog Post 10/19

This week’s readings on WWII open an important dialogue on the true utility and necessity of such large scale wars, as well as failings in global interventions on peace. It is extremely difficult to see past the level of destruction the world experienced when even the motives of American involvement were more convoluted than the public recognizes. Moreover, the concept of a “just war” is often extremely oversimplified and ignores any motivations for war that don’t fit a specific moral narrative. There is absolutely no doubt that American opposition to German fascism and the Holocaust was necessary and moral. However, American foreign policy failed to prioritize the oncoming genocide until it worked in America’s best interest. If this were not true, concessions to Hitler would not have been made for as long as they were and an entire ship of Jewish refugees would not have been turned away from America’s shores. In fact, Roosevelt first turned the matter of handling the Holocaust over to a state department that was riddled with anti-semitism (Zinn 415). To claim a higher American moral standard than what was actually practiced is a to fail to plan for present and future policy that could combat genocide.

Zinn’s chapter and the article both present a stepping stone to a larger conversation on international policy on peacekeeping and where those organizations can strive to be better in and out of wartime. Zinn notes that the United Nations was formed in the midst of WWII, at the whims of major imperialist powers (415). The UN today handles a large portion of peacekeeping operations worldwide, but to understand the shortfalls and areas where it might strive for more sustainable peace, we can look towards the historical creation of the greater organization. The fundamental dissonance of an organization created by inherently violent imperial powers with the stated goal of maintaining peace is evident- it is only natural that peacekeeping operations are often found to have capitalistic or exploitative motives behind them. That is not to say that peacekeeping operations like the UN bare unjust or cannot operate at a higher function of morality- they absolutely can, it just requires a certain amount of public consciousness and accountability of historical shortcomings. Zinn’s chapter on WWII presents an opportunity for awareness- dissecting the past failures of foreign policy has a unique ability to reform future actions by governing powers and the people alike.

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