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Nicolas

Sawicky Modern U.S. Foreign Relations Paper 2 World War II was a global military conflict, the likes of which the world had never

seen before. Seventy million people died in the hostilities surrounding the war, most of them being civilians. Behind all of this death, there was a general hatred for different ethnicities. The most recognized example being the genocide of the Jewish people all across Europe by the Aryan race. Another racial hostility, this time between the Japanese and Anglo-Americans, also existed during WWII and was just as bloody. The relationship between the Japanese and the Anglo-Americans was not filled with

tolerance like the German and Anglo-American relationship. The Japanese were not white; therefore they were inferior in the eyes of most Americans. Even though we were also fighting Germany, we were able to recognize the difference between a Nazi and a good German (Dower, 8). The racial fear and hatred by both the Japanese and the Anglo- Americans added fuel to an already fierce fire in the wake of the Pearl Harbor Bombings. What resulted was one of the deadliest military campaigns between two countries in the history of the world. The book, War without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War by John W. Dower,

was revolutionary in the subject of racism in the Pacific War. It was the first book to really publicize the racism that acted as a catalyst for both the Japanese and Anglo-Americans against each other. The book is broken into three main parts. The first section covers the racial conflict in more broad terms. The second section covers the racism from the eyes of

the Western world towards the Japanese. The third section describes the Japanese xenophobia towards the Western world. With these three sections and the illustrations in- between part II and III, the reader is able to gain a better understanding of the deep seeded chauvinism that each country employed. Part I: Enemies seeks to introduce the reader to the racism in World War II,

without going into great detail. The section does not even solely focus on the war in the pacific. Right of the bat, Dower explains: Governments on all sides presented the conflict as a holy war for national survival and glory, a mission to propagate the finest values of their state and culture (Dower, 3). That statement brings to light something you rarely think about WWII as: a holy war. In the context of the crusades, the two are really similar. In both cases, you have one ethnic group invading land that belongs to another group and claiming they have a right to that land. It is funny how we boil World War II down to just a battle between good and evil, when in reality it was so much more complex. We as Americans may look at ourselves as the good and the Axis powers as the evil, but in reality both sides utilized tactics that would be considered immoral by an unbiased third party. Two great examples of this are the fire bombings of Japanese cities and the Bataan death march. Although the Second World War was not cause the numerous acts of prejudice

among the different nations of the world, it allowed for them to be placed onto the world stage. WWII exposed raw prejudices and was fueled by racial pride, arrogance, and rage on many sides (Dower, 4). The war put people of different races against each other on the

battlefield. This acted like a magnifying glass for the racial divides that existed long before the start of the war. The section Enemies also briefly explores racism in the European theater. He

states, apart from the genocide of the Jews, racism remains on the greatest neglected subjects of WWII (Dower, 4). Dower then points out that most people are only aware of the Holocaust, which was committed by Nazi Germany. In reality there was a purging of the Jewish people in nearly ten other European countries, in what he describes as the hidden Holocaust (Dower, 4). This example provides an excellent backdrop into how easy state sponsored racism can go unnoticed for years. With that fact, the reader is better able to understand the how easily racism between Japan and the Anglo-Americans is seemingly non-existent in most history books. The premier topic in Part one of War without Mercy would defiantly be when Dower

describes the Japanese racism that was inflicted upon the people of the surrounding East Asian countries. Japan was no different that the U.S. when it came to taking advantage of smaller nations within its sphere of influence. In the Unites States case, these were non- white nations who were incapable of running their own governments. Japan was able to accomplish the same result as the U.S., but against their own race. Japan designated themselves as the leaders of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperiety Sphere and began to rule over the nations that used to be dominated by Western countries (Dower, 7). The Japanese saw themselves as the master race and treated their neighbors sometimes worse than what their white counterparts had done (Dower, 7).
Dominating the political scene, taking over local economies, imposing broad programs of Japanization, slapping non-Japanese in public, torturing and executing dissidents, exploiting native

labor so severely that between 1942 and 1945 the death toll among such workers numbered in the hundreds of thousands (Dower, 7)

It is descriptions like these that assist the reader understand that at the end of the day, Japan and the United States did the same evil acts, using race whenever it would help benefit their end goal, no matter how ridiculous the charges of inferiority were. Part two: The war in Western Eyes takes a closer look into how the Anglo-

Americans viewed the Japanese during the Second World War. Dower takes all the different perceptions and breaks them down into four, well-organized chapters. The first chapter, Apes and Others, explores the comparison of the Japanese to animals as well as some other popular nicknames. The most prevalent animal name associated with the Japanese was either monkey or ape (Dower, 84). The association was pushed by cartoon depictions of Japanese soldiers swinging from tree to tree along with U.S. accounts of shooting monkey snipers out of trees (Dower, 85). The other notorious nickname that you usually hear in reference to the Japanese during WWII was the word Jap. The term Jap was especially used in songs like Youre a Sap, Mister Jap, Theyre Gonna Be Playing Taps on the Japs, and Were Gonna Have to Slap the Dirty Little Jap (Dower, 81). In comparison, the most popular nickname the people of Nazi Germany received was Nazi and even that name was not all encompassing like Jap. There were Nazis and there were good Germans. On the flip side, the only good Jap was a dead Jap (Dower, 79). The next chapter in Part II is titled Lesser Men and Supermen. This chapter

explores the phenomena of the Japanese persona transforming from inferior beings to superhuman individuals. This transformation occurred after the surprise attack on Pearl

Harbor. This was due to the United States underestimating the military might of the island nation (Dower, 98). It is funny how the Anglo-Americans can only view the Japanese as inferior or superhuman being, and not the human beings that they are. The chapter Primitives, Children, Madmen seeks to explain the use of scientific

racism towards the Japanese. The idea of them being children spawned from the obvious fact that the average Japanese man is significantly shorter than the average Anglo- American man, thus he is a child (Dower, 123). There were psychological case studies done on the Japanese, which resulted in the belief that the Japanese were mentally unstable (Dower, 124). It was these kinds of stereotypes that helped formulate the belief that the Japanese were immature and violent individuals. Yellow, Red, and Black Men attempts to capture the history of Anglo-American

racism from way before the Second World War and compare it to what occurred during the Pacific campaign. Dower describes the stereotypes placed on blacks and Native Americans as baboons and savages, respectively (Dower, 149-150). These same names then reemerged as branding towards the Asian race. Thus displaying an endless cycle of racism that can still be seen today with the American view on the Muslim world. Part three of the book, War without Mercy, takes its readers into the mind of

Japanese racism towards the white culture. The first chapter, The Pure Self, attempts to describe the Japanese approach to racism. Dower explains that the Japanese did not look at the Anglo-Americans in terms of color, but instead on purity. The Japanese, or Yamato race, considered themselves the purest race in the world (Dower, 205). This focus on elevating themselves, instead of belittling the other races like the Anglo-Americans, was a different

and yet successful approach. One of the Japaneses biggest arguments for their self- appointed purity level was their willingness for self-sacrifice. This Gyokusai meant that the Japanese chose to die heroically in battle rather than surrender (Dower, 232). In The Demonic Other, the reader is introduced to the Japanese slander that was

placed on the whites of the Western world. The Japanese saw the Allied powers as demonic beings that were set on internal corruption of Japan by foreign influence (Dower, 235). Some other examples of Japanese slander were: demons (oni), devils (kichiku), fiends (akki and akuma), and monsters (kaibutsu.). More elaborate variations were offered on occasion, such as hobgoblins and hairy, twisted-nosed savages (Dower, 244). These names all were used to scare the Japanese public into fearing the white man as an evil being, hell- bent on destroying the beautiful Japanese culture. Out of the three main sections of the book, War without Mercy: Race & Power in the

Pacific War, the most effective one would have to be the first part. Enemies provided an excellent backdrop to the two sections that followed it as well as brought some interesting facts to the table. One of the main points of the first section was the eerie similarity between the Anglo-American use of racism to conquer weaker nations and Japans employment of that same technique. The other great point was the one made about American bias towards the German people over the Japanese. The U.S. understood that there was good Germans, but failed to realize any good Japanese. The least effective part of Dowers book was defiantly the second section. The War

in Western Eyes really did not bring anything new to the table. It just reiterated the stereotypes that most Americans already understand existed from movies based on World

War II. That should not take away from the amazing job John Dower did in compiling all the great examples of Anglo-American racism. He was just unfortunately beat by the other forms of media. The book, War without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War, also contains some

very interesting illustrations of both Anglo-American and Japanese racism of the time. Some of these illustrations can even be compared to the illustrations from the time of the American frontier. The most obvious connection between these two time periods is the American depiction of non-whites being savage. In nine of the fourteen Anglo-American illustrations, the Japanese are depicted as animals (Dower, 182-187). Another depiction has a Japanese soldier carrying a naked woman over his back (Dower, 189). These images strike an amazing resemblance to some American viewpoints of the Native Americans during the time of the Frontier. In John Vanderlyns The Death of Jane McCrea, you see two Indians being depicted as shirtless savages who are about to murder a defenseless woman (Frontier Handout). There are also many contrasting characteristics between the pictures of racism

during WWII and the time of the American frontier. The most obvious contrast being that in many of the Anglo-American illustrations, the Japanese are depicted as an evil force that can only be stopped if America fights and defeats the Japanese. This can be seen with the Japanese monkey splitting U.S.S.R. from the U.S. and U.K. or the two depictions of Japan as a giant ape-like man (Dower, 182, 187-188). Most illustrations of the American frontier show white men killing Indians with ease or have them as an after thought. Thia ideology is best depicted by the Buffalo Bill posters like, The death of Chief Tall Bull at the Hands of

Buffalo Bill (Frontier Handout). A great example of the Native Americans being depicted as an afterthought in the frontier is in Frances Palmers painting, Across the Continent (Frontier Handout). After learning about what America had done to depict both the Japanese and Native

Americans during their respective times of hostilities, it has become apparent that part of American culture is to belittle your opponents into submission. The American propaganda machine will spit out anything, no matter how untrue, so that American interests are looked upon in a good light. This of course is not only a tactic of the United States of America, but a sad reality for most countries. As you can see in the third section of War without Mercy, even the Japanese used the same tactics to put down its enemy and make Japan seem better than it really is. These countless acts of propaganda have seen a steady decline in recent years. This is most likely due to better communication between nations and global news companies that only report the truth. There are still political cartoons that will depict people and countries in an unfavorable light, but they are more for laughs than to raise public opinion for war. I doubt America will be going to war over any cartoons that may depict France as anti-American, or China purposely placing lead in toys headed to the United States. Those kinds of tricks just do not work anymore.

Works Cited Dower, John W. War Without Mercy Race and Power in the Pacific War. New York: Pantheon, 1987. Print.