Learning Through the Presidency of John F. Kennedy: How We Can Teach the Power of Television and Media

Learning Through the Presidency of John F. Kennedy: How We Can Teach the Power of Television and Media

Jon Iorio

We are living through times as Americans where television and media prove to be dominant in our everyday lives. Even more so, the media, using exposure from the television, have shown they have immeasurable power when it comes to shaping the beliefs and ideals of Americans from all corners of the country. It should be up to us as teachers to begin to include the power of media and television and content because it is hard to ignore the impact both have had on our political landscape as a country. On top of this, presidents have shown that they are more than willing to use television and media to their advantage, especially when it comes to pleasing their base. This happens in the forms of rallies, commercials, press conferences, briefings, and interviews on new channels like Fox News and CNN. I believe that, in order to teach our students about the powers of both entities, we must go back to the president who made them a part of main stream American culture. This requires us to go back and analyze the presidency of none other than John F. Kennedy.

Content in many history classes shine light on many presidents like Abraham Lincoln, the heroics of George Washington, the groundbreaking policies of the New Deal era from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but John F. Kennedy is held to a different standard. JFK was a president the country lost too soon, that cannot be argued differently. However, he is also a president who has become a sort of mythological creature for many younger-generation Americans, deservedly so. As a man who is often remembered for that dreadful day in Dallas, Texas, I believe it is up to us as teachers to start to move towards a different narrative for Kennedy. Although it is challenging to analyze the presidency of JFK from a policy standpoint, since he just simply did not spend an ample amount of time in the White House, he should be remembered and taught in more ways that just his assassination. John F. Kennedy, through television and media, transformed the job of the presidency. He changed what it meant to be presidential because there had never been a president who had been displayed so much to the American public as Kennedy. Mary Ann Watson, a historian from the University of Michigan in her piece, “A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F Kennedy”, echoes this sentiment, saying, “the symbiotic bond between television and the occupant of the White House was forever sealed during the Kennedy years” (Watson, 1986). We as teachers have been missing out on a key moment in American history when it comes to the analysis of John F. Kennedy’s presidency. The bond Kennedy created between himself and Americans using television explains the development we have seen play out between presidents and presidential candidates in history. It is time for students to learn about the impact he made.

            If you asked a class full of your students when the last time they saw President Trump or President-Elect Biden on their televisions at home with their families, it could be assumed that many would raise their hands. This is an important development of the presidency that has not always been a part of the job title. While it would be ignorant to say that this would not have happened if not for Kennedy and his presidency, the way he connected to Americans so effectively through the exposure from television and the media created a blue print for every presidential hopeful after him to follow. Take it from Kennedy himself, who said in an address as a senator about the impacts of television on politics, “but for better or worse-and I side with those who feel its net effect can be definitely be for the better, the impact of TV on politics is tremendous” (Kennedy, 1959). Kennedy and the television boom the country experienced throughout the 1960’s created a perfect storm. It effectively begun the relationship we are all so familiar with having with our president or presidential nominee every four years.

            The media in 2020 has seemingly unlimited access to presidents and nominees in the climate we find ourselves in. While this has created a transparency between presidents and citizens, it has also allowed for a dangerous dynamic to be created. Something that is often forgot about Kennedy and his relationship with the media is hypnosis he put many of them under during his time in office. Alice George, author of Awaiting Armageddon, said that, “Kennedy was too responsive to journalist’s opinions, and because he made journalists feel important, they became too susceptible to his charms” (George, 2003, p. 88). It could be said the relationship Kennedy and the press had together became toxic for the well-being of America. Kennedy greatly impacted what they told the American people, which created a lack of transparency for the administration. We have seen this playout with many presidents who succeeded Kennedy.

The current political climate when it comes to media coverage is dangerously partisan, and it seems to be getting worse, not better. Kennedy was insecure at times when it came to what the media was saying about him because he knew his image he had with many Americans was something he could not lose hold of. In Joseph P. Berry Jr.’s book, John F. Kennedy and the Media, he wrote, “despite Kennedy’s cooperation with the media, they sometimes wrote or aired reports with which he disagreed; he would then contact the source to let them know of his displeasure and to seek corrections.” And conversely, “whenever Kennedy read a favorable article about himself, he would not only tell the writer, but would then from memory quote direct phases” (Berry, 2002, p. 59). This type of relationship Kennedy had with the media has become more apparent for presidents in office today. Just in this administration alone, we have seen President Trump call every article or claim from the media he does not like “fake news”, while he will praise a Fox News piece that sheds any type of positive light on himself. This has created a dynamic around the office of the presidency where we cannot take everything we hear from the person in office as fact. This is a dangerous precedent, and one America must get off the path of. Our students must know that this has become a part of the presidency when it comes to trusting what they hear from the media. If they don’t, the political climate will become even more partisan because the younger generation will continuously support the channels and news outlets who are either trying to please or undermine the man in office.

Kennedy and the way he transformed the presidency by use of television and media fundamentally changed what it meant to be President of the United States. Every president after Kennedy has had to juggle both the exposure from television as well as intense scrutiny and judgment from the media. Presidents have dealt with it differently, we have seen some fail like Nixon, and some prosper like Reagan. Students must know about the way Kennedy impacted the presidency by shifting the presidency to a man Americans rarely saw to a man who was a part of their lives. Presidents today have a place in millions of homes across America through television and media exposure, it is time students realize the impact President John F. Kennedy had on this monumental change.

References

Berry, J.P. (2002).  John F. Kennedy and the media: The first television president. Auburn, NY: Legend Books.

George, A.L. (2003). Awaiting Armageddon: How Americans faced the Cuban Missile Crisis. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Kennedy, J.F. (1959). “A Force That Has Changed the Political Scene.” Retrieved from https://www.museum.tv/debateweb/html/equalizer/print/tvguide_jfkforce.htm?

Watson, M.A. (1986). A tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy: An international special event. Retrieved from https://archive.org/stream/ERIC_ED295564/ERIC_ED295564_djvu.txt

Neither Here Nor There, So Where Shall I Go?

Neither Here Nor There, So Where Shall I Go?

Michael Gil

The individual care of a group or communities is often the best way to assimilate different demographics within home, school, or other places of safety and inclusion. One day Alicia Hsu, a teacher, was talking to her class about the circumstances of Rosa Parks’ epic stand against discrimination and asked if they were in her situation, what they would do? The children responded in their native dialect and answered, “I would move” (Hsu, 1995, p. 240). To which Mrs. Hsu asks gasping, “You would?  But why?”… “Because,” Tang mumbled, “we do not belong. It is their home. It is their train” (Hsu, 1995, p. 240.  To that effect Hsu wanted to know what went wrong and how she failed to inspire in them the belief that they have a place in a nation of immigrants, a nation to which they belonged for it was their home as well. During the 1800s to 1900s, Chinese immigrants were all but assimilated and cared for equally by their fellow man. As the racial tensions began to stir, many American legislators and policy makers view that the Chinese national character was inferior to that of the white men. This began to affect the children of Chinese immigrants in their ability to assimilate into American society. The primary factors that led to long lasting and profound discrimination against Chinese and Chinese Americans were violence, racial legislation, belief in a superior race, and economic instability. To which the children of Chinese immigrants never saw themselves as Americans as they were constantly reminded of the white man’s world and they are not white men but children from an “alien” race.

Within the field of social studies it is important to understand subjects of sensitivity, particular in areas examining discrimination. Students want and desire to be educated based on the historical content and context of particular stories within American history that concern their own demographic in order to understand their own history and identify with it. Teachers in association are to deliver that content and express the ideas of the time and explain the significance of that very event. For it is within those very explanations and examples given by the instructor that a student readily intakes the subject matter and applies it to social gathers to see if that very old version of history within the U.S still holds true. If not then they are ready to identify signs of unequal treatment as they were informed based on how previously America held very different ideas on how immigrants should be treated. Within this very article seeks to demonstrate and inform instructors on the topic of Anti-Chinese sentiments that led to events such as the Chinese Exclusion Law, violence against Chinese Americans, and developing stereotypes that may continue today within modern American communities (Chung, 2018). The Chinese Exclusion law was used to deny entry to certain status types of Chinese immigrants but soon began to prevent all Chinese immigrants from coming into the United States either as skilled or unskilled laborers (Chinese Exclusion Act, 2009). Americans thought that Chinese immigrants would degrade morale in American communities with opium and gambling while stealing American jobs. The significance of the Chinese Exclusion law was that it allowed anti-Chinese Americans to brand Chinese immigrant families as deviants and pests in the American quality of life. Which prompted many Americans to confront the threat of the so-called new Chinese menace, by any means, to what was seen as an endangerment of their own communities. In relation one of the primary means to discriminate against Chinese immigrants that American citizens used was violence and political interference. These Americans were dubbed Anti-Chinese and used violence and other means to enforce fear in Chinese communities. Americans felt that Chinese immigrants were unsuited for American citizenship to participate in the American way of life. They saw Chinese Americana’s unworthy or unable to positively contribute to American communities and are only capable of stealing from it. The effects of how the treatment of Chinese Americans and the future generations onward demonstrate a change in attitudes in anti-Chinese immigration, thus prompting an essential question. What were the primary factors that led to having a profound impact of discriminatory practices against Chinese Americans and what did the children of those immigrants see themselves as within American culture?

The study of Chinese exclusion from American communities ranges from violence, discrimination, stereotyping, and lack of assimilation for the children of those very immigrants. In the work of Sue Fawn Chung, Chinese Exclusion, the First Bureau of Immigration, and the 1905 Special Chinese Census: Registered, Counted, Arrested, Deported–1892-1906,  she depicts and analyzes the history of the Chinese Exclusion law with the inclusion of the Bureau of Immigration. The Bureau of Immigration primary focus was to find Chinese immigrants with improper documentation and detain them. Chung approaches the topic of Chinese exclusion by gathering evidence in accordance with the United States program created in the 1895 called BI which their primary purpose was to control immigrants, especially Chinese (Chung, 2018). Chung details that due to the BI’s realm of control at the time and enforcement powers involved regulations involved in completely sanctioned naked body search of Chinese immigrants despite knowing that in Chinese culture it was extremely offensive. Chung later argues that the new Chinese Census was an important part of the efforts for the BI to regulate further Chinese immigrants for political and economic reasons (Chung, 2018). That later created an atmosphere of fear as many Chinese immigrants view those very procedures made by the BI and Chinese Census were racially motivated. Finally, the main argument of Sun Fawn Chung was that Chinese immigrants were experiencing massive political struggle as anti-Chinese movements sought to protect American democracy in a nation full of immigrants from the seen Chinese menace.

The place of labor and economic fortune within America is seen by many as a market built and used by the American people. However, in Eddie L. Wong’s, Racial Reconstruction : Black Inclusion, Chinese Exclusion, and the Fictions of Citizenship, he details how planters looked to China as a source for workers and importing them to the United states became known as “coolieism”, they were paid at a lower wage rate then white workers. Wong approaches his historical analysis by using source material from “Senate floor debates to Supreme Court test cases brought by Chinese activists, public anxieties over major shifts in the U.S. industrial landscape and class relations became displaced onto the figure of the Chinese labor immigrant who struggled for inclusion at a time when black freedmen were fighting to redefine citizenship” (Wong, 2015). That very source material helps Wong demonstrate a correlation towards immigration and citizenship troubles in the shadow of Reconstruction. For in the wake of racial exclusion, Wong states “post-emancipation deemed Native and Chinese Americans as unredeemable heathens and morally unfit to participate in America’s manifest Destiny” (Wong, 2015). This philosophy or declaration, directly decides that Chinese Americans are not only a hazard to American communities but unfit to partake in the greater picture in how America will spread itself across the continent. Meaning at the time, minority groups such as Chinese Americans have no desirable historical contribution worthy of note within the grand scheme of how the country will continue to grow and succeed. Thus, removing later generations of Chinese Americans to have any sort of assimilation to look to in order to see themselves as an American, as their culture was denied any sort of worthy contribution to the American way of life. 

The treatment and racial discrimination of Chinese Americans are apparent within American society during the 1800s to 1900s. For during the so called invasion of the coolies was also when the very same Chinese Americans were experiencing discrimination from the American people and legislation out of stereotypical fears and potential lose in American jobs. As the racial tensions began to stir, many American legislators and policy makers viewed that the Chinese national character was inferior to the white man. This began soon to affect the children of Chinese immigrants in their ability to assimilate into American society. The primary factors that led to long lasting and profound effects in discriminatory factors for Chinese Americans were violence, racial legislation, belief in a superior race, and economic instability. To which the children of Chinese immigrants never saw themselves as Americans as they were constantly reminded of the white man’s world and they are not white men but children from an “alien” race.

Nothing further increases the reality of political belief than the law itself to institute and enforce legislation. In the year of 1882 Congress passed a series of laws to exclude Chinese laborers from entering the United States (Meade, 2017, p. 293). Those very series of laws prompted the famous law that barred a single demographic for a century within the United States. The case itself is known as Chae Chan Ping vs. The United States, given the title “Chinese Exclusion” by Justice Stephen Field. The court’s power to regulate immigration to the U.S provided the parameters over a controversial legal debate. During this time in the early 1880s many Americans were clamoring for a sort of theoretical Chinese wall where there would be more guards stationed across major immigration ports and create a new administration to enforce this theoretical Chinese wall in light of the Chinese exclusion law. In relation to this, much of the controversy again stemmed from the association of the loss of jobs within American due to Chinese immigrants taking those very jobs. In terms of how the white laborer can combat this was seen as impossible, “if he would attempt competition with the coolie, and will always be driven from his presence, as cheap currency displaces the better for while it is true that wages are relatively highest on the Pacific Coast, the coolie reduces wages and competes everywhere.” and “White labor will not submit to the degradation of a rivalry with such a competitor, but will either assert its power through the government or be driven from the presence of the coolie altogether” (Meade, 2017). The competition between the two groups was seen as an impossible competition as some employers believed in natural rights to which the employer can choose whomever to engage while hiring including immigrants. Which further increases the case’s importance in and causes discrimination and witch hunting among American citizens to Chinese immigrants.

The identity of a foreign entity brings with them a blank slate of which its only purpose is to be filled with some sort of applicable standard over what they are. In the case of the Chinese immigrants, they were given racial inequality and were branded as pests within their new found American communities. What prompted the legal racial inequality was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, as those of Asian descent were the first to be barred from entering the United States and prevented them from gaining citizenship. The regulations towards the arrival of Chinese immigrants were those seeking skilled or unskilled labor under the fear of Chinese immigrants infecting the good order of certain localities within the United States. Within the original piece of legal material of the Chinese Exclusion Law states “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, …… coming of Chinese laborers to the United States be, and the same is hereby, suspended; and during such suspension it shall not be lawful for any Chinese laborer to come, or, having so come after the expiration of said ninety days, to remain within the United States” (Chinese Exclusion Act, 2009). With the outlook of Chinese laborers as poor contributors to American communities and immigrants “stealing” the jobs of deserving Americans, many politicians rode the wave of Chinese exclusion by using 15 sections of Anti-Chinese legislation. By banning the Chinese laborers during the crisis of economic instability, being able to obtain a job lead to one of the primary factors in discriminatory ideas against Chinese Americans.

However, despite supposedly higher job opportunities many Chinese workers and Chinese Americans felt out of place and felt that they were not getting the opportunities they deserve just because they are Chinese. The story of Lawrence Klindt Kentwell, follows a Eurasian of English and Chinese descent who spent his formative years in Hawaii studying to be a lawyer. However due to his Chinese blood, he was excluded from local politics in Hawaii and thus did not have a single chance at entering the legal profession in the United States. The racism he experienced when trying to obtain his natural rights in the United States only made him strongly identify with his Chinese roots, leading him to leave his adopted home in America for good and go to China (Chen, 2019). Due to lack of equal treatment Kentwell felt that it was best to travel back where his roots came from in order to escape unequal treatment and seek better opportunity.  Many Americans saw Chinese people as an inferior group was due to three main reasons such degradation of social standards, habits of filth, and the wage rate. Those very two factors affect social dynamics in American communities as the spreading stereotypes of Chinese immigrants began to warrant them unwanted discrimination and violence. Americans fought back against what they saw as the rise of Chinese immigration to be an invading army that was stealing the resources that they deserve as Americans. In relation to the idea of social standards the overall quality of American living within condensed neighborhoods were given the idea that the Chinese demoralize social instincts and customs. In short, Chinese immigrants would be “inveterate gamblers, opium smokers, bring no families with them, and have reduced prostitution to a system. ……. the Chinese immigrant gambles & deadens his sensibilities by smoking his opium.” (Atchinson, 1894, p. 141).  Those very ideas of foreign born being attributed to America are seen as Anglo-Saxon traditions and continue to still affect it when dealing with attitudes towards immigration from the 1800s and 1900s. For within the Anglo-Saxon tradition sees itself as manifest child of destiny which has been encouraged thought American politics as they accept original various immigrants into their nation Also, shows a key correlation in Chinese American’s, in the face of racial discrimination and legislation, do not feel as if they are American as violence and discriminatory comments are against them. As the legislation and social attitudes change show from the 1800s to 1900s so does how Chinese Americans continue to see themselves.

Chinese Americans had lacked opportunities that were essential to their American way of living. The ability to assimilate into American culture was never properly given to them from the late 1800s to 1900s as many Chinese descendants felt they were alienated within the very nation they were born in. The history of violence, economic instability, discrimination, and alienation drove Chinese American descent and Chinese immigrants to experience hardships that they would not experience otherwise. For the usage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, the denial of civil rights, racism, and stereotyping prompted many Americans to see Chinese immigrants as a pest. Thus undeserving of the American privileges which prompted a few Chinese Americans to shut themselves out of the American way of life as only “true Americans” can experience America or life in the United States altogether. For during the so called invasion of the “coolies” was also when the very same Chinese Americans were experiencing discrimination from the American people and legislation out of stereotypical fears and potential lose in American jobs. Jobs were being rapidly taken by Chinese workers for less pay, thus prompting Americans to view that the Chinese were stealing their jobs. The primary factors that led to long lasting and profound effects in discriminatory factors  for  Chinese  Americans  were  violence,  racial  legislation,  belief  in  a  superior  race, and economic instability. To which the children of Chinese immigrants  never  saw  themselves  as  Americans  as  they  were constantly reminded of the white man’s world and they are not white men but children from an “alien” race. These feelings of lesser worth with the context of historically demographic treatment can leave an impact on a child who is discovering that his or her idea of the world is not all inspiring. Instead, they may see it as a battle for potentially, that someday, discrimination will perhaps resurface if the rights conditions are met. For the instructor’s role within teaching the subject, they must inform students how in certain parts of history there are terrible things that yet to be fully extinguished in our modern society. As such elements of discrimination has yet to leave world and instructors must inform students on that history in order to prevent and bring awareness to discrimination within and outside the classroom.

References 

Atchinson, R.M. (1894). Perils of unrestricted immigration. Retrieved from https://athena.rider.edu:2065/ehost/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=8e8de26b-f1ed-4f46-99e8-cf078e746178%40sdc-v-sessmgr01&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#AN=21213317&db=fth Chen, L. (2019). A mixed-race child’s fate under the Chinese Exclusion Act: Lawrence Kentwell’s fight for inclusion in local politics and legal profession. Asian Pacific American Law Journal, 23(1), 1–17.

Chinese Exclusion Act. (2009). Chinese exclusion act of 1882. Retrieved from https://athena.rider.edu:2063/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mth&AN=21212613&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Chung, S. F. (2018). Chinese exclusion, the first bureau of immigration, and the 1905 special Chinese census: Registered, counted, arrested, deported, 1892-1906. Chinese America: History and Perspectives. Retrieved from https://go.gale.com/ps/anonymous?id=GALE%7CA581024572&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=10517642&p=AONE&sw=w

Hsu, A. (1995). It’s our train. Horn Book Magazine, 71(2), 240–246.

Meade, E. (2017). Chinese immigration to the United States, 293. Retrieved from https://athena.rider.edu:2063/login.aspx?direct=true&db=prh&AN=21213081&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Wong, E.L. (2015). Racial Reconstruction : Black inclusion, Chinese exclusion, and the fictions of citizenship. NYU Press.

Enemies in Their Own Homes

Enemies in Their Own Homes

Austin Parrish

“I am the grandson of immigrants from Japan who went to America. Boldly going to a strange new world, seeking new opportunities.”  George Takei, a famous Japanese American actor who is proud of his heritage is also proud to be an American citizen.  Just as his grandparents came to the United States, so did many other Japanese people.  They came to seek opportunities and create a new life for themselves. They wanted to live the American dream, and all was well until the day that will live in infamy, flipped the lives of the Japanese Americans.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor the United States felt that the only things that they could do to prevent further attacks on the United States was to round up the Japanese Americans and put them into internment camps all over the country.  This was heavily backed up by powerful figures in government such as the President and the Secretary of War.  There were those who opposed the idea but the overwhelming push for the Japanese Americans to be put into the internment camps drowned out the opposition.  Japanese Americans became an important part of the economy in a few different states and by removing them all so rapidly it would be extremely detrimental to American’s society.  This paper will argue that it did more harm to the United States socially and economically to put the Japanese Americans into the internment camps.  It cost the United States a lot of money to set up the camps, round up all the Japanese Americans and keep them there for a couple of years.  Socially it was detrimental to the Japanese Americans after they returned home from the Internment camps as they lost everything upon returning home.  The United States felt that they were making the right decision and wanted to make the public feel safe.   To keep the citizens at peace of mind they made the decision to put them in the camps even though it would cost the United States.  Even though the Japanese attacked the United States directly it did not mean that all the Japanese people living in the United States were spies for Japan or had mal intent.

Japanese immigration to the United States started around the 1900s and when they first arrived in the United States their economic status was on par with that of African Americans.  There were many restrictions set on Japanese immigrants, making it difficult for them to be economically successful.  They were not allowed to own any farm land or even lease it in a few different states.  However, according to historian Masao Suzuki, due to their culture and solidarity they were able to be more successful and some considered them an “ideal minority”. In the eyes of the American people the ideal minority was what they were looking for in the immigrants that were coming into the United States.   The idea of “ideal minority” meant that they were helpful to society in that they were able to keep jobs and work hard as well.  The Jewish people were also considered ideal minorities because they shared a similar work ethic because of their culture and the society that they lived in.  However, the neighbors to the Japanese, the Chinese were very hard workers but due to their lifestyle in China most of them were looked down upon and would not fit into American culture as easily as the Japanese did.

Immigrants coming into the United States were usually coming for one reason to work.  In the short time between 1900 and 1940 about 90% of the Japanese population that had come to the United States were working in jobs.  Many of those jobs were unskilled, which included things such as farming, railroad work, mining, and domestic servants.  There was also a small 2% of Japanese Americans that were professionals or proprietors and that only continued to increase and eventually by the 1940s it went up to 18%, the highest of all minorities.  The Japanese were a crucial part of the economy in some states.  Even though they were very productive and contributed to society they were still looked down upon in the eyes of white Americans and were still not seen as equals to the other white minorities.  However, on the day that will live in infamy, December 7th 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor everything changed for the Japanese Americans and their lives were turned upside down.  The view of the Japanese people drastically shifted and led the United States to take immediate action.  Franklin D. Roosevelt the 32nd President of the United States created the Executive Order 9006 which resulted in the internment of the Japanese Americans.  This further alienated the Japanese Americans in the eyes of the American people.  Which had a very negative social impact on the Japanese Americans as well as problems for civil rights in the United States.

The attack on Pearl Harbor stunned Americans and President Franklin D. Roosevelt made a speech December 7th 1941 in response to the attack on Hawaii.  Roosevelt stated “YESTERDAY, December 7th, 1941 a date which will live in infamy the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” There was civil unrest among the people of the United States as they were scared of the uncertainty that lay ahead of them.  The main reason behind the President creating the Executive Order 9066 was to protect from any form of espionage, to do this he gave power to the Secretary of War.   He was given the power to evacuate the Japanese Americans from their homes and bring them into military controlled camps.  The Japanese Americans were uprooted from their homes and were only allowed to bring with them what they could carry.  Even though there was much support from influential members of the government for the internment camps there were those such as Governor of Colorado, Ralph L. Carr, who were very much against the idea.  An American General by the name of DeWitt states that “a Japs a Jap… Whether the Jap is a citizen or not”.  This sentiment was the widely accepted view for the American people at that time because of the immediate impact Pearl Harbor had on the population.  This order outraged Carr, who believed that all American citizens, regardless of race or ethnicity, should be guaranteed their constitutional rights.  Even though there was support against the internment of Japanese Americans there was not enough to free them from the camps.

This paper will be delving into the social and economic effects of putting the Japanese Americans into the internment camps.  The United States had done more harm to itself socially and economically by putting the Japanese Americans in the camps.  It will discuss the social changes that occurred when the Japanese citizens were vacated from their homes.  The paper will also take into consideration the economic effects of removing the Japanese Americans from their homes and into the camps.  From the jobs that the Japanese Americans were doing, to feeding them in the camps, setting up the camps, and giving retribution for what they had lost as well.  The paper will also take into consideration the reasoning for the Japanese being put into the internment camps and the possible positive outcomes.

In the years leading up to the United States entering World War II because of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese American population started to assimilate into American society.  Japanese American families made the United States into their home just as George Takei’s mother and father did.  Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor Takei’s family had been living comfortably in Los Angeles and were even celebrating the American holiday of Christmas because they felt as though they were truly American citizens.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor the morning after, the Takei family’s car was smashed and painted on saying “Get out Japs”This act of vandalism shows how the call for internment caused problems socially on a whole other level because the act of hatred made it seem as though all Americans were against the Japanese.  Which was a very backwards way to try and rally the people because it made the Japanese Americans feel as though they cannot be trusted even though in some cases families had been living in the United States for multiple generations. This incident was incited by the speech that President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave after it was reported that the Japanese were the ones behind the attack.  His speech and call for congress to go to action further alienated the Japanese Americans in the eyes of the American people.  Socially for the Japanese Americans they now felt as if they were enemies in their own home, that even though they were tax paying Americans they were considered the enemy.  The claim was that they wanted to avoid something of the magnitude of Pearl Harbor to happen again and they felt that it was the best thing to do to make the American people feel most safe.

The internment of the Japanese Americans was truly unjustified as it was discovered that there was no real threat of Japanese Americans attacking the country.  Under the order of the President there was a man by the name of Curtis B. Munson and he was tasked with gathering intelligence on the loyalty of the Japanese Americans.  His research concluded that the Japanese Americans were loyal and would pose little threat to the United States.  He said that “There is no Japanese `problem’ on the Coast … There is far more danger from Communists and people of the Bridges type on the Coast than there is from Japanese.” The report goes into the different generations and how each of them are loyal to the United States, the first generation of Japanese Americans who are around 55-65 may romantically be connected to Japan but he goes on to say how their loyalty to Japan has been severely weakened because they have chosen to leave Japan.  Munson had written in his report that “they have chosen to make this their home and have brought up their children here. They expect to die here. They are quite fearful of being put in a concentration camp. Many would take out American citizenship if allowed to do so.” This is where socially for the United States wanting to intern their own citizens continues to cause problems for them.  What the United States described as “model minorities” are being attacked and the minorities are in fear of their own government which was reason enough to want to leave.  Even though what the government planned to do was a large civil rights issue, they felt as though they were doing the right thing as there is always a need to defend one’s country.   From the report there was a generation of Japanese Americans that the government did feel they needed to watch.  The younger generation that had been taught their early years in Japan and then had come to the United States however, even they were considered to be no real threat.  This showed that the main reason for the United States to call for the internment of Japanese Americans, was really not backed by much evidence besides that they were being over cautious.  Which leads to the idea that there was a deeper cause for the internment of the Japanese Americans rooted in a racial bias.  If the United States government had truly taken account of the report they could have avoided the social repercussions for what they had done prior to the Japanese Americans being released.  The United States government waited seventy-four days after the attack on Pearl Harbor to take action against the Japanese Americans calling for Executive order 9066 in which the government gave the call to intern the Japanese Americans in camps across the country.

Executive Order 9066 was detrimental to American society because it took away American citizens’ civil liberties. The order was a big step backwards in the case of civil rights which only led to further problems in the future socially for the United States.  The order gave permission to “the Secretary of War and the said Military Commanders to take such other steps as he or the appropriate Military Commander may deem advisable to enforce compliance with the restrictions applicable to each Military area hereinabove authorized to be designated, including the use of federal troops and other federal agencies, with authority to accept assistance of state and local agencies.”.  The President gave the military power to handle the situation and for them to take the lead in putting the Japanese into the internment camps.  Japanese Americans had no intention of revolting but were still going to be put into the camps and the Americans were now faced with interning over 100,000 Japanese Americans and keeping them in a camp for over two years.  This order proves to show that there would be social repercussions for going about this in the wrong way.  By giving the military the job of interning the Japanese Americans it made them feel far more alienated.  As they would really no longer be true American citizens as all their civil liberties are being stripped away. 

The issue for the United States would be that they have to pay the workers for filling in for the Japanese workers but the problem was that the employers now have to pay the workers more money.  This was not beneficial to the businesses and or the economy of the United States as now the businesses could not make as much money.  This shows another way that the United States caused harm to itself for interning the Japanese Americans.  There was more of a negative impact economically for the white Americans that owned the farm and business but also for those people who were buying from them as well.  Since they had to pay the workers more, that means that had to increase the price for the food or labor that was being supplied.  California was highly populated by the Japanese so they were most heavily affected by the sudden disappearance of the Japanese workers on their farms.  

The Japanese Americans at that time were responsible for the production of almost 40% of the agricultural growth in California.  California was hit hard when a sudden disappearance of workers stunted the amount of agriculture that California was producing.  An interview done with a man who had been in the internment camps states that “At 98, Riichi Fuwa doesn’t remember his Social Security number, but he remembers this: “19949. That was my number the government gave me,” he said. “19949. You were more number than name.”.  The assigning of the numbers to the people rather than using their own names was another thing that caused problems for the Japanese socially.  As this was a practice used to dehumanize people and was used even by the Nazi’s in their internment camps.  However, there is no comparison to what went on in Germany and there is no intent to really compare them in any way.  Fuwa was assigned that number when he arrived at the camp when he was 24 years old and when he arrived he saw “Rows and rows and rows of these buildings, We were inside the barbed-wire fence, the armed guard towers. We couldn’t walk out of the enclosure. I might get shot.” He remembered thinking, “Hey, I’m an American citizen! Now I’m the one being hunted.”.  It was noted that they paid the Japanese Americans and that depended on each of the camps but in the one Fuwa was working they paid them twelve dollars a month which was barely anything compared to what they were paid outside of the camps.   This was a struggle both economically and socially for the Japanese Americans as they were losing money while being in the camps for so long, and also being dehumanized in these camps.  They were treated almost as live stock and they had most if not all of their civil rights taken away.  This maltreatment of the Japanese Americans left a lasting impact on these citizens and would not soon forget.

When the Japanese Americans were brought to the camps they were forced to leave everything behind including their homes and business.  They were given time to gather what they could carry and told that they would be taken to the camps to live until they would be released.  The United States decided that they would buy the Japanese Americans homes and businesses from them, however they were paying almost nothing and they had no choice but to accept it.  The United States was able to take advantage of the Japanese Americans once again they were able to buy land and homes from that at extremely low prices.  This caused problems for the Japanese Americans after they had left the internment camps.  They did not know what their future would be like after they had left the internment camps because they no longer had a home, their business, or their job.  This would lead to more social problems for the United States as it was unfair the way they were treated which would lead to reparations causing issues for the United States economically.

This court case is evidence to support the United States facing social repercussions and many more issues.  The first court case was between Kiyoshi Hirabayashi v. United States, which started May 10th 1943 and finished June 21st 1943.  Kiyoshi was convicted of violating a curfew and relocation order.  This happened during the time the Japanese Americans were being put into the internment camps and laws were being enforced against them.  They were not given the option to leave their home and many Japanese Americans did not feel they should have to leave and that is what ultimately caused this court case to begin.  The reason this court case was so important was because they were looking at whether or not the President’s executive order and the power delegated to the military authorities discriminate against Americans and resident aliens of Japanese descent.  These actions that had taken place were violating their Fifth Amendment rights.  This court case goes to argue that the United States was taking advantage of their power and caused problems with its own citizens by taking away many of the Japanese American’s rights.  By having put them in the internment camps and even charging the Japanese for breaking their new laws showed just how poorly this was handled and the error that they made in making the internment camps in the first place. However, the United States government found the President’s actions to be constitutional, claiming that the relocation and curfew laws put in were okay.  The reasoning behind the court decision had to do with the fact that much of the military supplies were being built on the west coast and it would be in the best interest for the United States to make sure the Japanese Americans could not go near them.  During the case they ducked the idea of relocation as they really had no answer for that and really only focused on the curfew aspect.  This shows how the internment continued to cause issues socially for the Japanese Americans and that their problems with the internment were getting pushed aside rather than listened which would lead to another court case that happened a year after.  This court case ended quite quickly as the United States government knew what they were doing was wrong and truly unjustified as seen by the Munson Report.  This issue of relocation would turn into something much more, as civil rights issues were starting to sprout up at this time.  Due to the war however much of this was swept under the carpet only to reappear after the war’s end.  

This case like the prior one discusses the social issues that were caused by the internment of the Japanese Americans.  It was about a Japanese-American man living in San Leandro, Fred Korematsu, chose to stay at his residence rather than obey the order to relocate.  Korematsu was arrested and convicted of violating the order.  He responded by arguing that Executive Order 9066 violated the Fifth Amendment.  The court case was important because of the fact that this was similar to the prior court case in that it was affecting the Japanese Americans in a negative aspect once again.  It showed that more Japanese Americans believed that they were citizens just like everyone else and that they had certain rights that should not have been taken away from them.  This affected the United States in the social end because this angered many Japanese Americans who were very much in support of America to feel alienated and eventually move into support for the civil rights push after they were released from the internment camps.  In an opinion written by Justice Black, the Court ruled that the evacuation order violated by Korematsu was valid. The majority found that the Executive Order did not show racial prejudice but rather responded to the strategic imperative of keeping the U.S. and particularly the West Coast, which is the closest region to Japan, secure from invasion. The Court relied heavily on a 1943 decision, Hirabayashi v. U.S., which addressed similar issues. Black argued that the validation of the military’s decision by Congress merited even more deference.  Justice Frankfurter concurred, writing that the “martial necessity arising from the danger of espionage and sabotage” warranted the military’s evacuation order.  Justice Jackson who disagreed, argued that the exclusion order legitimized racism that violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. There were swaying opinions on the case but ultimately met the same fate as the last one so not much was accomplished for the Japanese Americans but this only seemed to cause more problems for the United States.  

These two court cases truly are some of the stronger documents as they give extremely valid arguments against the relocation and internment of the Japanese Americans.  It is clear to the common people that their civil liberties are being violated and the executive order and curfew are in direct violation of the Fifth Amendment, as the Japanese Americans were not given fair trial before really in a sense being sentenced to jail.  There was no evidence given to be able to do such a massive thing, such as relocation of an entire ethnic group.  They had done research “The Munson Report” that the Japanese Americans in fact were not a threat to the United States in any way.  They had no need to fear the Japanese Americans would do any harm to the United States and even though California had the largest population of Japanese Americans the report showed that even they really had nothing to fear.  They made the claim that they were protecting the production aspect of California and that it is in fact the closest to Japan; this was still not a good enough reason for them to have to relocate.  Even by putting them in internment camps that did not affect the fact that they could still be attacked by the Japanese directly.  It is not as if the Japanese did not know where California is.

Even with those trying to fight for the Japanese Americans no real change was seen until much later on after the war finished with Proclamation 4417.   President Gerald R. Ford’s Proclamation 4417 confirmed the termination of the Executive order that authorized the Japanese American’s internment during World War II.  This took place February 19th, 1976.  This was the first step taken by the United States to begin to attempt to make up for what they did to the Japanese American population.  The President said “that we have learned from the tragedy of that long-ago experience forever to treasure liberty and justice for each individual American, and resolve that this kind of action shall never again be repeated.”.  The government now acknowledges what they had done goes against the ideals of a democracy.  This Proclamation goes into prove the argument that the United States by putting the Japanese Americans in internment camps only caused the society more harm and hurt the belief that many Japanese Americans had about the United States.  Not much longer after that, there were a string of new bills that go onto try and pay back the Japanese Americans for what they went through including the Civil Liberties Act of 1987 and the amendments made to it not much long after.  There was also the Japanese claims act which had to do with both the economic effects as well as the social, as the Japanese Americans had lost everything upon returning to their homes after they had been released by the American government.  

The Japanese claim act was a very important act that was created in order to give compensation to the Japanese Americans after they had left the internment camps.  The Japanese Americans had everything they had taken from them and when they got out they pretty much had no money, a place to live, or a job.  This act was extremely detrimental to the United States government as they had to give up a lot of money to pay back what they had taken from them.  However, not every Japanese American filed for the compensation.  There were 26,550 claims made and each claim was supposed to be given about $20,000.   Which ended up being around 36 million in reparations paid which in today’s money is a little over 4 billion dollars.  While this was not a huge sum of money, it was still a lump sum that could have been used in other ways besides having to pay reparations.  These payments not only affected them economically but impacted them socially as well.  This was really not enough money to give back to the Japanese Americans as they had lost everything and $20,000 would not buy back their homes, business and cars.

The Civil Liberties Act of 1987 was introduced January 1st, 1987 and was done by the House and the Judiciary branches of the government.  These two were the committee responsible for the law.  The Act declares a few different things including that  a grave injustice was done to citizens and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry by the evacuation, relocation, and internment of civilians during World War II; (2) these actions were without security reasons and without any acts of espionage or sabotage documented by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, and were motivated by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership; (3) the excluded individuals suffered enormous damages for which appropriate compensation has not been made; and (4) the Congress apologizes on behalf of the Nation.

The United States was faced with a difficult decision after the infamous day of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  However, the choice they made to intern the Japanese Americans had far more negative effects than they originally thought.  It affected the United States both socially and economically, while it did not affect it as economically as originally believed it still had a negative impact on the United States.   The United States was able to take advantage of the field work that the Japanese Americans were doing by selling excess crops and food to the free market while this did help the government.  It really only harmed the common American farmer who had lost workers to go work on other farms.  They also took advantage of the fact, that after they would be released, they now knew of more government owned farm land that they could use or sell. The real effect was felt socially by the Japanese Americans until reparations and acts had been put into place to make up for what had been done.  The United States government going on to openly say what they had done back then was wrong and to try and amend for what they had done strengthens the argument that they had done more harm both economically and socially to the United States.

References:

Daniels, R. (2004). Prisoners without trial: Japanese Americans in World War II. Hill and Wang.

Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). Toyosaburo Korematsu v. United States vol. 22, 11 Oct. 1944. Retrieved from www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/323/214.

Morehouse, L., and Fuwa, R. (2017). Farming behind barbed wire: Japanese-Americans remember WWII incarceration. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/02/19/515822019/farming-behind-barbed-wire-japanese-americans-remember-wwii-incarceration

Munson, C.B. (1941). Munson Report. Retrieved from https://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/active_learning/explorations/japanese_internment/munson_report.cfm

Nagata, D. (2015). Processing cultural trauma: Intergenerational effects of the Japanese American incarceration. Journal of Social Issues, 71 (2), 356-370.

Parrish, A.E., and Cole, H.L. (1999). The Great Depression in the United States from a neoclassical perspective. Quarterly Review, 23 (1).

Ray, M. (2018). Executive Order 9066. Britannica.  Retrieved from www.britannica.com/topic/Executive-Order-9066.

Robinson, G. (2003). By order of the president: FDR and the internment of Japanese Americans. Harvard University Press.

Robinson, G. (2011). A tragedy of democracy: Japanese confinement in North America. Columbia University Press.

Suzuki, M. (2002). Selective immigration and ethnic economic achievement: Japanese Americans before World War II. Explorations in Economic History, 39 (3), 254–277.

Takei, G. (2020). They called us enemy. Top Shelf Productions.

Taylor, S.C. (2013). Japanese Americans, From Relocation to Redress. University of Washington Press: Seattle, WA.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. (1904), Occupations at the twelfth census. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

The American Flapper Through Media

The American Flapper through Media

Kaitlyn Ford

The American flapper, a “new woman”, a change in society, oftentimes overlooked inside history. The flapper did not provide any legal change for women, did not gain them more political rights in her time. She did something else entirely. The American flapper held change in the role of women, the appearance of women, and the way women were looked at inside society. Their power was in their style, their actions, and the culture time period they lived in. When it comes to teaching the flapper, she many times will be brushed over and not paid enough attention. Inside this paper, I will explain a way to place the flapper inside the social studies classroom that will be engaging for the students.

            The flapper emerged during a time in American history where much of society and culture was undergoing change. Historians Kathleen Drowne and Patrick Huber wrote “According to many historians, the Jazz Age marked the birth of Modern America” (Drowne & Huber, 2004). Meaning that during this time considered “the Jazz Age” is what truly began what many consider to be modern American, many of our modern themes came about and can be traced to begin with this time period in America. This time period in American history was one of change, prosperity, and modernization. Many people look here and can see the beginning of the modern times Americans would soon enjoy. So, what exactly happened in this time? A positive aspect of the 20s was the consumer culture. In 1922 the economy had a reboot due to consumer goods being manufactured in industries (Drowne & Huber, 2004). This made products faster, easier, and cheaper. More people would be able to afford a top since it was mass produced by machines. One major reason for consumer goods spreading quickly inside America was through the new media. “Consumer goods revolution fueled the nation’s flourishing economy and increasing reliance on new technologies and mass media transformed the daily lives of ordinary Americans” (Drowne & Huber, 2004). The media was able to influence the lives of Americans across states, classes, and genders aiding in influencing this new consumer culture. People began to use the media and technology to grasp what consumer goods they should purchase during this time period. All of this would be useful information to provide for students to prepare them for the flapper and why the media plays a role in her fame. If the students come into the lesson I explain later one, with a background of the consumer culture and the new media outlets for Americans, it can make learning about the flapper better.

            Who was the American flapper? Historian Joshua Zeitz provided a description of the flapper in Flapper. He states “… the notorious character type who bobbed her hair, smoked cigarettes, drank gin, sported short skirts, and passed her evenings in the steamy jazz clubs, where she danced in a shockingly immodest fashion” (Zeitz, 2006). Inside this activity, I am not trying to convince them of who the flapper is or what she is trying to gain, but more so how she became a household name inside America during the 1920s. After taking the time to explain the 1920s, it is time to begin the flapper movement.

            As a way to engage the students and allow them to move about the classroom, you can create a station activity. This would be a group activity but their review will be independent to see each student’s understanding of the material. Throughout the research done around the American flapper, I have been able to find numerous sources from the time period that can help express the flapper. The goal of this activity is to allow the students to engage with the primary sources and develop their own interpretations. Another goal would be for the students to see how the media during this time could change an opinion of a subject, for them to see bias using the flapper as an example. At the end of the lesson, the students should be able to explain the various types of media sources during the 1920s allowed ideas, opinions, and themes to spread throughout America.

            You can add more sources if you deem necessary but for my lesson I have two newspaper sources and three magazine covers from LIFE. Day One will be the introduction to the 1920s and the mass media (as discussed above). For the review and to check for understanding, they will have a brief response to compare the primary sources they interacted with and explain how those sources depicted the flapper and what influence these would have on the American people then. If it is an honors class, it would be useful to also add for them to describe how these sources affect Americans today in comparison to the 1920s.

            The first newspaper was from the Library of Congress. It was a fashion page that describes the latest trends in dressing, shoes, and hats. A famous actress Clara Bow who portrays a flapper in the film “IT” in 1927 is shown modeling her own hat. It was labeled “the latest for girls” (Evening Star, 1927).  The second newspaper was NYS Historic Newspaper. This paper as well was centered on Clara Bow but instead of her fashion, it was her movie “IT” (The Massena Observer, 1927), showing the times the movie was playing at and the theater it was located in. It allowed Americans to find the film easier by simply reading the paper. As well, this paper promotes the film to the people and could influence a person to attend the theater that day. With these two newspapers, it allows the students to interact with the primary source material on their own and come to understand the type of sources written about the flapper during this time.

The three magazine covers by John Held can be found in numerous books such as Carolyn Kitch’s The Girl on the Magazine Cover; The origins of visual stereotypes in American Mass Media. However, these images can also be discovered on the web. The first one “The Sweet Girl Graduate” depicts the flapper with a cap on her head and diploma in her hand. This expresses the view that the American flapper was educated to some degree. It allows the students a different perspective on the flapper from simply the fashion and actress inside the newspaper.

The next magazine cover was labeled “Sitting Pretty”. This picture shows a flapper and dog both sitting. It expressed the dress, appearance and appeal of the flapper to the students. The newspaper did not do a great job at seeing the flapper since it was more grain like, whereas this cartoon makes it more clear. It helps to show just another aspect of the flapper that would be displayed to the American public.

The final magazine to look into was titled “Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks”. This image shows a young flapper dancing with an older man. They both appear to be enjoying their time and having fun. During this Jazz Age, there was music and dancing, this image helped bring that to life. Part of the flapper was going out and having a good time, so to fully understand this flapper, they would need this side as well.

“The Sweet Girl Graduate”
“Sitting Pretty”
“Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks”

For the setup of the lesson. I would create the five stations. Have the desk preorganized with the primary source already at the table, however it would be hidden inside a folder and they would be told not to touch it yet to keep them from being distracted. Then I would start with a Do Now. Personally, I would begin with asking the students what is a flapper. It would be interesting to see what they do and do not know about this term. Then, pass out the paper they will be using for the activity. The first section on their paper will be filled with questions from the 1920s review. I would have, define the consumer culture, what mass media is, and why this period is considered “Modern America”. This way, as they continue through the stations they can reference if needed and can use this after watching the film. Then, after the review, they can begin their stations. They would be given questions to answer at each station. What type of source are you looking at? When was the source created? What is the source attempting to convey or show the reader? How do you think this influenced a person’s view on the flapper? Depending how long the block is would determine how much time they are given at each station. Allow roughly 10 minutes to briefly go over what they learned and their opinions on the primary sources. I would bring up bias at this point in the lesson.

            Overall, the students should be able to use the primary sources and develop their own understanding of how media affected Americans during this time. The students would use the flapper to better understand the media and the power it could have over this time period. As stated before, the flapper is commonly overlooked. However, she can be used to not only show the changing of women inside society and creating a modern woman, but the flapper can also show them how the media played a role inside the lives of Americans.

References

Drowne, K., and Huber, P. (2004), The 1920s: American Pop Culture Through History 3-28.

Evening Star. [volume], (Washington D.C.) September 23, 1927, page 22, Image 22. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1927-09-23/ed-1/seq-22/

Kitch, C. (2001), The Girl on the Magazine Cover; The origins of visual stereotypes in American Mass Media, 121-135.

The Massena observer. (Massena, St. Lawrence County, N.Y.) June 2, 1927. Page 12, Image 12. http://nyhistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn84031311/1927-06-02/ed-1/seq-12/

The Teachable Idols of the ’60s: Their March Toward Civil Equality

The Teachable Idols of the ‘60’s: Their March towards Civil Equality

Thomas Colantino

2020 will be stamped in history books worldwide. You always wonder when analyzing history what it was like to live in some of the most chaotic time periods. I guess you never realize what it’s like living through history when it is happening around you every day. Teaching history relies on this idea of perspective. Students must be able to not only comprehend the content, but also be able to focus through another lens, which is the ability to put themselves in the situation that is being taught. I feel as though the best way to achieve this is through student engagement. The most important question in education is how to get students to be engaged with the material and to learn the lessons accordingly? For myself, the philosophy is you have to find ways to relate or spark the interests of the student. Schooling, in a repetitive manner can become exceedingly dull and classes can become white noise to students, ESPECIALLY, in the world we live in today. With virtual learning students are partaking in classes sometimes still in bed. There is a plethora of distractions when working from home, so as the educator, the objective is to make the class not only packed with content, but also have the ability to intrigue the students.

            For myself, the best way to pique the interest of students would be to somehow combine a mutual interest and find it in history, or how at least it could correlate. I feel as though my capstone is this happy medium. The entertainment business, of any kind reaches a wide variety of people. Whether it be through film, art, music, or athletics, one of the many outlets connects with someone. So, why wouldn’t you try and incorporate the entertainment business into a lesson. If you could show history through entertainment, potentially students would be more interested to learn that lesson. My capstone centers around the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, one of the most crucial topics of not only modern America, but American history in general. Yet, with a little twist, I focus on the celebrities of the time period, and how they were able to utilize their platforms to promote change. Not only just working for activists, but also alongside them. With many of the unfortunate events that had transpired over the course of the year in relation to social issues, it was interesting to see which individuals were on the forefront fighting the battle and protesting in the street. In several different cities around the country, several different actors, athletes, etc., flooded the streets with the general civilian voicing their wants and desires. For students, seeing their favorite athlete or musician voicing their opinion for change, could change the student’s perspective and raises interests. As a result, this idea can be depicted also for the Civil Rights Movement. By finding celebrities that chose to fight for the Civil Rights Movement, it creates another avenue for students to stay engaged with the material.

            So how would one go about collaborating the important material in regards of the history aspect of the Civil Rights Movement, and also sparking the interest of students through the entertainment of the era. For myself, I start with the true trailblazers, the ones that’s actions outside of their own profession spoke louder than those within their respected fields. One of the obvious names to start with in this case is Jackie Robinson. Now, Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, well before the 1960s and its decade of civil rights activism, but every lesson has a background section, no? To Segway to a historical standpoint, around this same era, dealing with the same kind of circumstance, Executive Order 9981 (1948), the desegregation of the military declared by President Harry Truman. See, there are connections that can be made. In terms of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s itself, the individuals to stick with are those who worked closely with the activists of the era. Someone like Harry Belafonte, singer by day, activist by night, had a loft in New York City where activists would meet to create rally plans and protests to promote change. Even the idea of the stories that could be shared of activists and celebrities would be intriguing enough for students to work with the material. The overall argument here is that there is knowledge that can be learned from these celebrities and their work towards promoting civil equality.

            To conclude, there were similar arguments I attempted to prove that could be utilized within the classroom. I tried analyzing media sources such as newspapers to see the perception of historical events. The objective here was to see how the events were written and perceived by the general public. This idea derives from how medias portrayal of an event can alter an individual’s viewpoint of that situation.  The influence of the public can be changed through how the media covers the situation. This idea of an influence can also be seen in comparison to those of celebrities and their aurora. Celebrity platforms reach a wide variety of individuals. The way they speak and carry themselves can and does influence their fans. The idea here that I try to create with the Civil Rights Movement is that if the celebrities preach change, then their fans will want change. In closing, the main argument of this work is how important student engagement is. Yes, we bounce around the ideas that are focused within my capstone, but the reason for its importance is how it can provoke interest in students. Every child is entertained by a commodity of life. Why not, as teachers, add the entertainment factor to the classroom and connect it with your lessons? Throughout history there are other aspects that connect history to everyday life. As an example, when teaching the Renaissance, generally professors and educators utilize the art aspect of the movement to pique the interest of their students. The colors, pictures, paintings, etc. help the class visualize the era. How about when teaching the Civil Rights Movement, add the sounds of Bob Dylan and Harry Belafonte, with the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to see the similarities—or just as importantly the differences? Or add the movement of one Muhammad Ali in and outside the ring with the movement of protest marches for civil justice and voting rights in the South during the early stages of Civil Rights Movement. There are many ways to connect, it just takes thinking outside the box to not only teach, but to entertain.

The 1918 Influenza in San Francisco: A Case Study for Today

The 1918 Influenza in San Francisco: A Case Study for Today

Melissa Brown

In 1918 the world was at war, battling on both the battlefields in Europe and in medical facilities around the world. As World War I was coming to an end, a lethal combination of pneumonia and influenza was spreading, and quickly reaching pandemic levels. The influenza of 1918 spread quickly in military bases throughout the US, across battlefields in Europe, and eventually throughout the world. The first wave of the pandemic mainly affected the US military and navy, as well as the militaries of European powers, (Crosby, 2003, pg. 17-45). During the second and third waves, the virus spread throughout the US, (Crosby, 2003, pg. 45-202). It affected day-to-day life everywhere, from large cities to small towns. Hospitals across the US quickly overflowed with influenza patients. Some cities, like Philadelphia, adopted phone services to minimize the number of people in hospitals, (Crosby, 2003, pg. 79). Other cities, like San Francisco, focused more on mandating that gauze masks be worn to prevent the spread, (Crosby, 2003, pg. 101-116). By the end of the pandemic in 1920, more people had died from influenza than those who had died in World War I.

            San Francisco during the influenza of 1918 is an interesting case study, because of all of the similarities to today. For example, San Francisco went through two waves of an epidemic, whereas other cities like Philadelphia only underwent one. The specific problems that the public dealt with during this pandemic were published in the city’s two major newspapers of the time, the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner. Both of these newspapers offer an abundance of primary sources that can be used to answer a variety of different historical questions on the topic. The three main issues that span the one hundred and two years of time are the city-wide shutdown of businesses and services, the mask mandate, and the call for medical aid.

The effort to help prevent the spread of influenza led to a shutdown across the city, effectively taking away a lot of forms of entertainment. On October 17, 1918 the San Francisco Board of Health shut down a majority of the businesses and services within the city. This order shut down schools, church gatherings, any sort of public gathering, and many forms of entertainment, (“All Public Meetings,” 1918). There was one exception to this ban, and that was outdoor group sporting events. Just one day later, Dr. Hassler, a member of the San Francisco Board of Health, actually encouraged public gatherings to play outdoor athletic games, despite banning all public gatherings the day before, because of the belief that fresh air could prevent the spread of influenza, (“No Ban on Athletics,” 1918). By shutting down a lot of businesses and services, daily life in San Francisco became a lot different; there were less options for how people could safely spend their days.

The city-wide mask ordinance had a massive impact on both society and culture in San Francisco, but it also holds similarities to today in its effect on the public. On October 24, 1918 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance requiring masks be worn in public. Anyone caught not following this ordinance faced either a maximum jail sentence of ten days in county jail, or a fine ranging anywhere from three dollars to ten dollars. A lot of the specifications as to when a mask had to be worn, and when it did not, resemble a lot of the restrictions in place today. For example, anyone in a public place, at gatherings of two or more people, or anyone selling food or clothing had to wear a mask. The exceptions were if one was around the family that they live with, or eating they were not required to have a mask on. It is interesting also that they included specifications for the masks that were worn. Masks had to firmly cover the mouth and nose, be made of mesh gauze or any four-ply material, and be at least five inches by seven inches, (“Here is Text of,” 1918). This mandate affected daily life for people living within the city. It even became a controversial issue, a symbol of being forced to do something by the government. There were articles published describing how a hundred and ten people were arrested for not following the mandate, (“110 Arrested,” 1918). The disputes became so serious that people were even shot and killed over this topic, (“Three Shot in Struggle,” 1918). One symbol of defiance is a man who was arrested and sent to jail for spitting on the sidewalk, (“Man Sent to Jail,” 1918). The term “mask slacker” was even added to the vernacular, as a way to refer to people who did not wear masks when they were supposed to; it was even used in the titles of many articles that were published at the time, (“‘Mask Slackers’ Given Jail Sentences,” 1918). Despite the controversy, masks ended up becoming a part of the culture by way of fashion, they essentially became accessories, (“Everyone is Compelled,” 1918). The effects of this mask mandate impacted the city’s society and culture in a way that seems familiar to today.

Another aspect of the 1918 influenza that has connections to today is the urgent need for medical help. During the epidemic, medical staff quickly became overwhelmed with cases. At only three months into the influenza outbreak in San Francisco, the ill significantly outnumbered medical professionals. Advertisements were published in newspapers requesting help from any trained medical professionals. It eventually got so bad that they started asking for help from untrained individuals as well, (“Nurses Wanted,” 1918). Women specifically were advertised to, they were “urged to war on influenza” while men were at war overseas, (“Each Person Urged,” 1918). There were even advertisements, approved by the Board of Health, that were meant to persuade people to wear masks to prevent the spread of influenza, (“Wear a Mask,” 1918). Preventative measures like this were put in place so that the public could do their part in helping the fight against the influenza. This sense of an overwhelmed medical world is very relevant to today. Even the push to help relieve the pressure on hospitals by putting preventative measures in place is relevant.

There are a lot of connections between the influenza of 1918 and the current COVID-19 pandemic. When the first wave of the COVID-19 virus in America started to spread rapidly across the country, the medical world was overwhelmed with cases. There was a call for masks and face shields to be sent to hospitals due to the low supply and high demand of those items. Ventilators were in high demand across the country as hospitals tried to prevent having to make the same choices that nurses in Italy were forced to make due to their lack of enough ventilators to go around. Medical staff across the country became overworked as they spent long days and nights putting themselves in danger to fight the virus. Preventative measures were taken to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. A mask mandate was even put in place in many states, forcing citizens to wear face coverings in public. This caused many conflicts and protests across the country as it became a highly controversial political symbol. Quarantine began and many states asked the public to stay home and stay safe in order to do their part to prevent the spread. Many states shut down non-essential businesses during quarantine, causing people to come up with new and creative ways to both entertain themselves and see family members safely. All of this, as previously proven with examples from various newspaper articles, echoes what people went through in 1918.

            History classes should explore current events through the lens of history. Throughout history, there have been many large-scale viruses that impacted human life. The bubonic plague that killed a third of Europe’s population, the virus that struck the people and major players of Athens as they were behind the wall in the Peloponnesian War, and the yellow fever that struck Philadelphia hard in 1793 are just a few examples of large-scale viruses that impacted civilizations throughout history. The influenza of 1918 is not as commonly represented in history lessons as past viruses like the bubonic plague; it is commonly left out of history classrooms across the country. There are many ways that a teacher could use this specific pandemic in a history classroom. To name a few examples, one could look at how disease impacted societies throughout history by providing students with a few different situations. Another example is to use the article about the man who was arrested for spitting on the sidewalk as an example of an act of defiance, (“Man Sent to Jail,” 1918). This can then be taken further by asking if this particular act of defiance was justified. One could even relate this to a conversation about first amendment rights, and why this became such a disputed topic. Even asking where your rights end and another’s begin can add to this conversation. This topic of the 1918 influenza pandemic can be very versatile, the key though is to bring the conversation into current times. These are difficult times, and history class is a place where students have the opportunity to unpack everything that is going on in the world. It is important to look at current events through the lens of history in order to help students better digest the world around them.

In all, San Francisco during the 1918 influenza pandemic is a perfect case study for today. The city-wide shutdown of businesses and services, the mask mandate, and the call for medical aid all echo the problems facing the American public during the COVID-19 pandemic today. This is not where the comparisons end, however, these are just a few of the most prominent examples. Another example would be that 1918 was a congressional election year, and people actually showed up to vote in-person. It only takes a little digging to realize just how relevant the 1918 influenza is today. I encourage you to do a little digging of your own, because this is a versatile topic that should be covered in history class.

References

All public meetings are banned under city order. (1918, October 18). San Francisco Examiner, 5. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/flu/7110flu.0009.117/1/–all-public-meetings-are-banned-under-city-order?page=root;rgn=full+text;size=100;view=pdf;q1=San+Francisco+Examiner

Crosby, A. W. (2003). America’s forgotten pandemic: The influenza of 1918 (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Each person urged to war on influenza. (1918, October 16). San Francisco Examiner, 4. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/flu/3110flu.0009.113/1/–each-person-urged-to-war-on-influenza?page=root;rgn=full+text;size=100;view=pdf;q1=San+Francisco+Examiner

Everyone is compelled to wear masks by city resolution; Great variety in styles of face adornment in evidence. (1918, October 25). San Francisco Chronicle, 1.

https://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/flu/0820flu.0009.280/1/–everyone-is-compelled-to-wear-masks?rgn=full+text;view=image;q1=San+Francisco+Chronicle

Here is text of city mask ordinance; Violation incurs fine or imprisonment. (1918, October 25).San Francisco Chronicle, 1.

https://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/flu/9720flu.0009.279/1/–here-is-text-of-city-mask-ordinance-violation-incurs-fine-or?page=root;rgn=full+text;size=100;view=pdf;q1=San+Francisco+Chronicle

Man sent to jail for spitting on sidewalk. (1918, October 27). San Francisco Examiner, 6. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/flu/9610flu.0009.169/1/–man-sent-to-jail-for-spitting-on-sidewalk?rgn=full+text;view=image;q1=San+Francisco+Examiner;op2=or;q2=San+Francisco+Chronicle

Mask slackers’ given jail sentences, fines. (1918, October 29). San Francisco Examiner, 13. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/flu/5710flu.0009.175/1/–mask-slackers-given-jail-sentences-fines?rgn=full+text;view=image;q1=San+Francisco+Examiner;op2=or;q2=San+Francisco+Chronicle;op3=and;q3=mask+slackers

No ban on athletics, is dictum on health. (1918, October 19). San Francisco Examiner, 9. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/flu/1210flu.0009.121/1/–no-ban-on-athletics-is-dictum-on-health?page=root;rgn=full+text;size=100;view=pdf;q1=San+Francisco+Chronicle;op2=or;q2=San+Francisco+Examiner

Nurses wanted on influenza. (1918, December 22). San Francisco Chronicle, 10. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/flu/0120flu.0016.210/1/–nurses-wanted-on-influenza?page=root;rgn=full+text;size=100;view=image;q1=San+Francisco+Chronicle

110 arrested for disobeying masking edict. (1918, October 28). San Francisco Chronicle, 1. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/flu/7920flu.0009.297/1/–110-arrested-for-disobeying-masking-edict?rgn=full+text;view=image;q1=San+Francisco+Examiner;op2=or;q2=San+Francisco+Chronicle

Three shot in struggle with mask slacker. (1918, October 29). San Francisco Chronicle, 1. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/flu/0030flu.0009.300/1/–three-shot-in-struggle-with-mask-slacker?rgn=full+text;view=image;q1=San+Francisco+Chronicle

Wear a mask and save your life! (1918, October 22). San Francisco Chronicle. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/flu/0620flu.0009.260/1/–wear-a-mask-and-save-your-life?rgn=full+text;view=image;q1=San+Francisco+Chronicle

The Power of Propaganda: Using Disney’s Wartime Films in the Classroom

The Power of Propaganda: Using Disney’s Wartime Films in the Classroom

Annamarie Bernard

Film in the classroom is always engaging to students. It provides them with a new perspective of events from the past. Rather than have students read or listen to their teacher speak on an event, putting on a movie can break up class time while appealing to even the most reluctant of learners. Films also help identify and highlight the deeper motivations of the producers, directors, or sponsors. There is always a motivation or a reason behind each piece, whether it be to share a personal story, to provide entertainment, or to spread a political message. Throughout history, political messages have been deeply embedded in movies, creating a new form of propaganda to reach a wider audience and spread their messages.

During the time the United States was involved in World War II (1941-1945), filmmakers such as Walt Disney were recruited by the United States government to spread specific messages.  In January 1943, Disney released three popular short films: “The Spirit of 43,” “Der Fuehrer’s Face,” and “Education for Death.” Each of these cartoons unveils a complex political message to gather support for the United States war effort. Because World War I was extremely unpopular with Americans, the need for citizen support in this new war, mentally and monetarily, was essential to be successfully involved (Steele, 1978, p. 706).  Disney’s three propaganda films can be incorporated easily into the social studies classroom to teach deeper lessons, especially when discussing the American home front during World War II.

The first of Disney’s more popular propaganda films is “The Spirit of 43.” This cartoon shows Donald Duck as he navigates what to do with his money on payday. First, Donald meets Thrifty Duck, who encourages him to save his money to pay the upcoming national income taxes for the benefit of the war effort. Next, he meets Spendthrift Duck, who advocates for spending his paycheck to buy material objects, thus going against the war effort and supporting Nazi Germany. The final scene of the film shows the guns, planes, and tanks that were created because of the tax money. The repetitive saying, “Taxes to defeat the Axis” is one of the lasting impressions of the cartoon, signaling the need for the funds to be given to the government in order to end the war (Disney, “The Spirit”, 1943).  By showing this film, students will come to realize that this six-minute propaganda film was used in a way that directly motivated Americans to do their part in the war effort. The need for income taxes is evident through this piece, and, by using Donald Duck, a classic Disney character, the film is engaging while still being informative.  This illustrates the lack of support for the war at the home front and the mindset the Americans needed to be in. Using “The Spirit of 43” in the classroom can be a great way to demonstrate the direct link between entertainment and politics. It is not commonly known that Disney used their art for the promotion of war, but through this film, the connection is undeniable; it captures the home front mentality and advocates for a call to action.

Like “The Spirit of 43,” one of Disney’s other films, “Der Fuehrer’s Face,” aimed to raise money for the war through war bonds. While it further illustrates the need for monetary support for the war, it also can be used to show students the life of a German worker.  This short film follows Donald Duck as he navigates his day in Nutzi Land, a spoof on Nazi Germany. From the moment he wakes up, Donald Duck lives a life very different from most Americans: he has to ration his food, work “48 hours shifts” in artillery manufacturing, and salute pictures of Hitler every time he sees him. This life becomes so intense and overwhelming that Donald suffers a mental breakdown and passes out. When he wakes up, he is back in America, relieved to find that his adventure was a nightmare (Disney, “Der Fuehrer”, 1943). As illustrated in the film, the German home front was drastically different from America’s home front, and viewing it can allow students to compare the wartime efforts in the two countries. In Nazi Germany, all concepts of individualism and personality are gone, as seen through a now passive Donald Duck, one of the most boisterous Disney characters with an overwhelming personality.  In America, a sense of individualism was kept, even when working in factories. The comparisons and contrasts that can be made are endless. While the film was created to raise money and support for the war, it can be further utilized in the classroom to supplement a lesson about the American home front, specifically through the differences of the two countries and the fear of losing personal freedoms, a defining characteristic of being American. “Der Fuehrer’s Face” has multiple applications for teaching World War II in the classroom.

The third Disney propaganda film that can be used in the social studies classroom is “Education for Death.”  It is a cautionary tale to warn the American public about the dangers of Nazism. In the classroom, it can be incorporated into the American Homefront with the motivating factors for fighting Germany, but it can also be used as a way to illustrate perspective.  Throughout the film, young Hans grows up in Nazi Germany and becomes indoctrinated in the ideology until he is a full Nazi soldier. The way he was raised illustrates how he sees his reality. For example, when Hans is in school, he learns about “natural law” through the analogy of a bunny and a fox. The weaker bunny was trapped and eaten by the fox, showing superiority. Hans immediately feels sorry for the bunny, a reaction that gets him punished by his Nazi teacher. The goal was to praise the strong fox for preying on the weak bunny, a mindset that the Nazis used in everyday life (Disney, “Education”, 1943). This is the perspective of a Nazi, something so different than that of the American soldiers. It demonstrates how the way they were brought up influences their actions as an adult.  While this film is specific to Nazi Germany propaganda, it can be used for students to gain a deeper understanding of how one’s beliefs change the way the world is perceived.  This skill of seeing events from a different perspective is essential in social studies classes to understand the purpose of a text, event, or action. This animation was created to entertain, but it also incorporated deeply embedded messages that are valuable to students. Through the film “Education for Death,” Disney’s short film can lend itself to multiple usages in the classroom.

Propaganda in the form of mass entertainment, such as short films, was essential in shaping the mentality and deeper sentiments of the American home front to be one that was more receptive and supportive of World War II.  Through “The Spirit of 43,” “Der Fuehrer’s Face,” and “Education for Death,” Disney was able to convey deeper, inspirational, educational messages to the audience about the war effort. In a 1943 New York Times interview, Disney stated:

“The war” he said, “has taught us that people who won’t read a book will look at a film… you can show that film to any audience and twenty minutes later, it has learned something- a new idea, or an item of important information- and it at least has stimulated further interest in study.” (Strauss, p. 168).

Disney sums up perfectly what any good piece of mass media should do- teach the audience and get them motivated to act on the information, whether it be to learn more about it or actively make the change it calls for.  All entertainment has a crafted message the creators want to express, whether it be to buy a new product, to illustrate a universal theme of life, or to persuade people to support the war effort.  Within these pieces, there are deeper themes that can relate to the classroom and everyday life. As teachers, it is important to show students how influential mass media is, whether it be from today or seventy years ago. Mass media as a form of entertainment will not go away, and it can be used in any form, especially in short, engaging Disney films, inside the classroom to provide a deeper outlook into the lives, motivations, and wants of those who created it.

References

Disney, W. (1943). Der Fuehrer’s Face. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/DerFuehrersFace

Disney, W. (1943). Education for Death. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/EducationForDeathTheMakingOfTheNazi

Disney, W. (1943). The Spirit of 43. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/TheSpiritOf43_56

Lee, S. H. (2009). Herr Meets Hare: Donald and Bugs Fight Hitler. ArtUS, 26, 70–75.

Steele, R. (1978). American Popular Opinion and the War Against Germany: The Issue of Negotiated Peace, 1942. The Journal of American History, 65(3), 704-723.

Strauss, T. (1943, February 7). Donald Duck’s Disney. The New York Times, 168.

Historic New York: Underground Railroad Stations

Historic New York: Underground Railroad Stations

Sheryl Nance-Nash

Reprinted by permission from the Amsterdam News, October 8, 2020, http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2020/oct/08/underground-railroad-sites-new-york/;

https://www.hudsonrivervalley.com/sites/Stephen-and-Harriet-Myers-Residence1/details

Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence, Albany: This is an award-winning Greek Revival building built in 1847. Underground Railroad site. It celebrates the anti-slavery activism of Stephen and Harriet Myers and their colleagues, the meetings of the Vigilance Committee, and the Freedom Seekers who stopped here to request assistance. The Residence has seven rooms on three stories with a full basement that housed the kitchen and dining area. It was the home of Stephen and Harriet Myers and their four children in the mid-1850s, when it was also the office and meeting place of the local Vigilance Committee. Over 50 Freedom Seekers were directed there for assistance. Stephen Myers was born enslaved in New York State. He and Harriet were the central figures in Northeastern New York’s Underground Railroad movement (https://undergroundrailroadhistory.org/residence/)

North Star Underground Railroad Museum, Ausable Chasm: The museum shares stories of the Champlain line of the Underground Railroad, which includes the Upper Hudson River, Champlain Canal and Lake Champlain in the Northern section of the Adirondacks. Freedom seekers traveling north navigated these waterways into Canada, making Lake Champlain a gateway to freedom. Exhibits include stories of enslaved individuals and families who traveled through the Champlain Valley to Canada or settled in the area, local safe houses, as well as accounts of the debates over slavery and the divisions it caused. https://northcountryundergroundrailroad.com/museum.php

Harriet Tubman National Historical Site, Auburn: This 26-acre estate in upstate New York includes the former home of Harriet Tubman, a two-story brick home provided by William Seward, the U.S. senator from New York, a welcome center and the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged. She helped hundreds of enslaved people and families to freedom on her Underground Railroad over a period of 12 years. In 1857 she moved to Auburn and continued her work as the conductor of the Underground Railroad. https://www.nps.gov/hart/index.htm

Plymouth Church, Brooklyn: Under the cover of night freedom-seekers would come and others would leave the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn. The basement of the church was a hiding place. The church started in 1847 and was led by anti-slavery advocate and senior minister Henry Ward Beecher. From its beginnings, the church served as a vital philosophical and geographical link in the Underground Railroad. Famous visitors include President Abraham Lincoln and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The National Register of Historic Places designated the church a National Historic Landmark in 1961. https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/underground/ny6.htm

Gerrit Smith Estate National Park, Petersboro: Gerrit Smith was one of the most powerful abolitionists in the United States, using his wealth to assist formerly enslaved people reach freedom, arranging safe passage to Canada, helping families establish their lives locally, gifting land and providing educational opportunities. Among the properties’ treasure are the five original horse stalls that were used in the Underground Railroad. “The Gerrit Smith Estate is a National Historic Landmark. https://www.gerritsmith.org/

Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, Niagara Falls: Showcases the stories of Underground Railroad freedom seekers and abolitionists in Niagara Falls. Located inside the former 1863 U.S. Custom House attached to the Niagara Falls Amtrak Station, the One More River to Cross permanent exhibition spotlights the crucial role Niagara Falls played by its location and geography, and the actions of its residents and particularly its African American residents. https://www.niagarafallsundergroundrailroad.org/

Constitutional Textualism, Undocumented Immigrants, and the 14th Amendment

Constitutional Textualism, Undocumented Immigrants, and the Fourteenth Amendment

Alan Singer

This article was originally serialized as a three-part post in History News Network.

Posting on History News Network, Elliott Young, professor of History at Lewis & Clark College, examined the Supreme Court decision in Department of Homeland Security v. Thuraissigiam (2020). Young described the decision as a “fundamental threat to equal protection of the law for all undocumented immigrants” that defied long established legal principles. I strongly support Young’s arguments and, in this article, I wish to extend them. Equally distressing is that it was a seven-to-two majority decision with Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer joining the rightwing court bloc. Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan posted a powerful joint dissent.

The 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act “placed restrictions on the ability of asylum seekers to obtain review under the federal habeas statute.” In this case, Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, an undocumented immigrant from Sri Lanka applying for refugee status because as a Tamil he faced beatings, torture, and death, claimed that since he had already entered the territory of the United States, he was entitled to due process. Thuraissigiam was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The Court upheld the constitutionality of the 1996 law and ruled that he was not.

 The majority decision for the rightwing bloc was written by Samuel Alito. Alito argued “Respondent’s Suspension Clause argument fails because it would extend the writ of habeas corpus far beyond its scope ‘when the Constitution was drafted and ratified’” and that the “respondent’s use of the writ would have been unrecognizable at that time.” Not once did Alito reference the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Breyer and Ginsburg, in a concurring opinion written by Breyer, stated that they supported the court majority “in this particular case,” but not the broader assertions made by Alito.

In a dissent endorsed by Kagan, Sotomayor wrote that “The majority declares that the Executive Branch’s denial of asylum claims in expedited removal proceedings shall be functionally unreviewable through the writ of habeas corpus, no matter whether the denial is arbitrary or irrational or contrary to governing law. That determination flouts over a century of this Court’s practice.” She argued “Taken to its extreme, a rule conditioning due process rights on lawful entry would permit Congress to constitutionally eliminate all procedural protections for any noncitizen the Government deems unlawfully admitted and summarily deport them no matter how many decades they have lived here, how settled and integrated they are in their communities, or how many members of their family are U. S. citizens or residents.” If Sotomayor is correct, and I believe she is, the Thuraissigiam decision puts all DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients at immediate risk.

I’m not a big fan of the national Common Core Standards and its high-stakes standardized reading tests, but as a historian and social studies teacher, I like the idea that they promote close reading of text. Former Associate Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia, the halcyon of judicial conservatism and the patron saint of the Supreme Court’s dominant bloc, justified his rightwing jurisprudence claiming to be a textualist. According to Scalia, “If you are a textualist, you don’t care about the intent, and I don’t care if the framers of the Constitution had some secret meaning in mind when they adopted its words. I take the words as they were promulgated to the people of the United States, and what is the fairly understood meaning of those words.”

But, as Shakespeare reminded us in Hamlet’s famous “To be, or not to be” soliloquy, “There’s the rub.” There is always “the rub.” The problem, with both Common Core and Constitutional textualism is that words have different meanings at different times and to different people and sometimes words are chosen, not to convey meaning, but to obscure it. Understanding “words” requires historical context.

The word slavery did not appear in the United States Constitution until slavery was banned in 1865 by the Thirteenth Amendment because the Constitution, as originally written, represented a series of compromises and contradictions that the authors left to be decided in the future. It was a decision that three score and fourteen years later led to the American Civil War.

The humanity of Africans was generally denied at the time the Constitution was written; they were chattel, property. But in Article I, Section II of the Constitution, which established the three-fifth plan for representation in Congress, enslaved Africans are referred to as “other Persons.” And in Article IV, Section II, the Constitution mandates that “No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.”

I read text pretty well. As persons, enslaved Africans should have been included in the people of the United States who wrote the Constitution “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

But of course, they weren’t. Just reading the Constitutional text, without context, does not help us understand what Scalia called “the fairly understood meaning of those words.”

Unfortunately for the nation, political bias blinded Scalia while he was on the Supreme Court and blinds the rightwing cabal that dominates the Court today so badly that they just don’t read with any level of understanding and ignore historical documents. Because of this, one of the most pressing issues in the 2020 Presidential election is the appointment of future Supreme Court Justices who can read text with understanding, especially the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, and are willing to search for supporting historical evidence.

In his war on immigration, Donald Trump has repeatedly tried to implement regulations that speed-up dismissal of refugee claims so they can be thrown out of the country and others that permit the Department of Homeland Security to indefinitely detain families that cross the Southern border with Mexico into the United States without proper documentation. Trump calls constitutionally protected birthright citizenship “ridiculous” and says his administration is “looking very, very seriously” at ideas for stopping it because the promise that their children will be American citizens is a “magnet for illegal immigration.”

I am not an expert on magnets, but I do know what the Constitution says, why it was written that way, and what it means. In the 14th amendment to the Constitution, approved after the Civil War, national citizenship, including birth right citizenship, and the rights of citizens of the United States, were defined for the first time. According to Section 1 of the Amendment, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” The only persons born in the United States and excluded from automatic citizenship were Native Americans who were members of sovereign tribes and the children of foreign diplomats stationed in the United States. Native Americans were finally granted birth right citizenship by the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. According to the 14th Amendment, the children of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, as long as they are born in the United States and subject to its laws, are automatically citizens whether their parents become citizens or not. Among other people, that included my parents – and by extension, me.

In addition, Section 1 states, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Equal protection of the law, due process, the right to life, liberty, and property, are assured by the Constitution to all persons, not just to citizens, including undocumented immigrants. If we exclude some people from personhood rights, we return to a reading of the Constitution that allowed “other Persons” to be enslaved. To prevent this from happening again, Section 5 of the amendment granted Congress “power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article,” but not the power to violate it.

The due legal process guaranteed to persons was earlier defined in the Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment bars prosecution for a crime without an indictment from a Grand Jury; the Sixth Amendment ensures that “the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed”; and the Eighth amendment bans “cruel and unusual punishments.” All of these rights were violated during slavery days when Blacks had no legal rights, including a public trial before an impartial jury. The case against Solomon Northup’s kidnappers in Washington DC was dismissed because a Black man could not legally testify against whites. It is important to note that the Sixth Amendment does not make an exception denying legal protection to undocumented immigrants, while the Eighth Amendment would probably be read by a legitimate Supreme Court as denying the separation of children from their parents and indefinite detention at the border – and at Guantanamo.

The Fourteen Amendment was written to protect persons and to empower Congress to enforce their protection because before the Civil War, Fugitive Slave laws denied due process to persons accused of being runaway slaves. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, permitted someone to be detained based on an “affidavit made by the claimant of such fugitive”; provided for the appointment of commissioners who reviewed claims outside of regular judicial channels; required “marshals and deputy marshals” to enforce provisions of the act and paid them doubled if an accused fugitive was enslaved; established penalties for “any person who shall knowingly and willingly obstruct, hinder, or prevent” a “claimant, his agent or attorney, or any person or persons lawfully assisting him, her, or them, from arresting such a fugitive”; and most disturbingly, a “deposition or affidavit” by a claimant against an accused freedom-seeker, was sufficient grounds for a commissioner to declare someone a fugitive and order them enslaved.

The phrasing of the 14th Amendment was also necessary because Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, in the 7-2 majority opinion he wrote for the Dred Scott decision, claimed that people of African ancestry “were not intended to be included, under the word ‘citizens’ in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States.” Taney, blinded by his bias against Blacks and determined to permit the spread of slavery into western territories, ignored the Constitutional provision that legal rights were guaranteed to persons, not just to citizens, and that Africans were recognized in the Constitution as persons.

In his dissent to the Dred Scott decision, Associate Justice Benjamin Curtis made clear that the ruling by Taney and the Court majority were in violation of both the text and intent of the Constitution, and after the decision was made, he resigned in protest. Curtis wrote that “At the time of the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, all free native-born inhabitants of the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina, though descended from African slaves, were not only citizens of those States, but such of them as had the other necessary qualifications possessed the franchise of electors, on equal terms with other citizens.” In addition, the Constitution’s fugitive slave clause (Article IV, Section II) established the personhood of enslaved Blacks when it referred to them as “persons held to service in one State, under the laws thereof.”

Antonin Scalia, rejected examining the original intent of the authors of the Constitution and its amendments, claiming we cannot know what they meant by what they wrote. But the thing is, their explanations of the meaning of the text are often well documented, especially as in the case of the 14th Amendment. Fortunately, while many current justices, like Scalia was when he served on the court, are limited in their understanding of what authors mean by the text, historian don’t have those limitations.

The Congressional Globe, predecessor to the Congressional Record, contains verbatim debate over the Fourteenth Amendment including extended statements by Congressman John A. Bingham from Ohio (House of Representatives, 39th Congress, 1st Session), the principal author of the amendment, and an elected official who could read very well, especially when the text was the United States Constitution. Bingham’s extended comments on the 14th Amendment appear pages 1088-1094.

According to Bingham, “I propose, with the help of this Congress and of the American people, that thereafter there shall not be any disregard of this essential guarantee of your Constitution in any State of the Union. And how? By simply adding an amendment to the Constitution to operate on all States of this Union alike, giving to Congress the power to pass all laws necessary and proper to secure to all persons – which includes every citizen of every state – their equal personal rights . . .” Bingham clarified, “the divinest feature of your Constitution is the recognition of the absolute equality before the law of all persons, whether citizens or strangers . . .” Based on this, Bingham advised President Andrew Johnson that “the American system rests on the assertion of the equal right of EVERY MAN to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; to freedom of conscience, to the culture and exercise of all his faculties.”

As Bingham explained, “Equality before the law” under the Fourteenth Amendment means exactly what it says it means; it is a right guaranteed to “all persons, whether citizens or strangers.”

In his speech to Congress, Bingham echoed some of the arguments made by Frederick Douglass when Douglass rejected the idea that the United States Constitution was a pro-slavery document. Douglass denied “that the Constitution guarantees the right to hold property in man. Douglass believed “The intentions of those who framed the Constitution, be they good or bad, for slavery or against slavery, are so respected so far, and so far only, as we find those intentions plainly stated in the Constitution . . . Its language is ‘we the people;’ not we the white people, not even we the citizens, . . but we the people . . . The constitutionality of slavery can be made out only by disregarding the plain and common-sense reading of the Constitution itself.”

Bingham, who analyzed context, as well as text, stated that “everybody at all conversant with the history of the country knows that in the Congress of 1778, upon the adoption of the Articles of Confederation as an article of perpetual union between the States, a motion was made then and there to limit citizenship by the insertion in one of the articles of the word ‘white,’ so that it should read, ‘All white freemen of every State, excluding paupers, vagabonds, and so forth, shall be citizens of the United States.’ There was a vote taken upon it, for all our instruction, I suppose, and four fifths of all the people represented in that Congress rejected with scorn the proposition and excluded it from that fundamental law; and from that day to this it has found no place in the Constitution and laws of the United States, and colored men as well as white men have been and are citizens of the United States.”

Bingham turned the Comity Clause in the Constitution, which affirms that states must respect each other’s laws and was used by slaveholders to demand the return of freedom-seekers as stolen property, on its head. He argued it should be read as written; that “The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.” He argues “This guarantee of your Constitution applies to every citizen of every State of the Union; there is not a guarantee more sacred, and none more vital in that instrument.” Essentially, Bingham believed, as did Douglass, that the slave states and slavery had been in violation of the Constitution all along, and the 14th Amendment, was need because its fifth clause empowered Congress to “enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article,” hopefully eviscerating the ability of states and localities to defy the law.

Supreme Court decisions based on text without context have been responsible for some of the greatest perversions of justice in United States history. The 14th Amendment empowered Congress to pass laws ensuring the rights of citizens and persons. One of the first laws, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, predated approval of the amendment, so Congress ratified it again in 1870. In Congressional debate over the law, Representative James Wilson (Republican-Iowa) explained that it “provides for the equality of citizens of the United States in the enjoyment of ‘civil rights and immunities,’ and that the civil rights protected by the law are “those which have no relation to the establishment, support, or management of government” (Congressional Globe, House of Representatives,  39th Congress, 1st Session,  1115-1117).

Section 1 of the Civil Rights Act declared “That all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theatres, and other places of public amusement.” Again, a right granted to persons irrespective of citizenship. Section 2 described penalties for violating the law.

But in 1883, by a seven-to-one vote, the Supreme Court endorsed Jim Crow racism as the law of the land when it ruled the Civil Rights Act unconstitutional. Writing for the court majority, Associate Justice Joseph Bradley argued that the Thirteen Amendment, as written, outlawed slavery, not discrimination, and the text of the Fourteen Amendment only authorized Congress to prohibit government action, not actions by individuals or non-governmental groups.

The only dissenting voice on the Court was Associate Justice John Marshall Harlan who wrote “The opinion in these cases proceeds, it seems to me, upon grounds entirely too narrow and artificial. I cannot resist the conclusion that the substance and spirit of the recent amendments of the Constitution have been sacrificed by a subtle and ingenious verbal criticism.” Harlan attacked the decision because “the court has departed from the familiar rule requiring, in the interpretation of constitutional provisions, that full effect be given to the intent with which they were adopted” and has “always given a broad and liberal construction to the Constitution, so as to enable Congress, by legislation, to enforce rights secured by that instrument.

Harlan then cited an interesting precedent for his view of the Constitution – the Court’s position on Fugitive Slave Acts. According to Harlan, “Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793, establishing a mode for the recovery of fugitive slaves and prescribing a penalty against any person who should knowingly and willingly obstruct or hinder the master, his agent, or attorney in seizing, arresting, and recovering the fugitive, or who should rescue the fugitive from him, or who should harbor or conceal the slave after notice that he was a fugitive,” a view upheld by the Supreme Court in its 1842 Prigg v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania decision, which recognized the power of Congress to pass legislation enforcing the rights of slaveholders.

In a series of rhetorical questions about the Thirteenth Amendment, Harlan asked whether “the freedom thus established involve nothing more than exemption from actual slavery? Was nothing more intended than to forbid one man from owning another as property? Was it the purpose of the nation simply to destroy the institution, and then remit the race, theretofore held in bondage, to the several States for such protection, in their civil rights, necessarily growing out of freedom, as those States, in their discretion, might choose to provide? Were the States against whose protest the institution was destroyed to be left free, so far as national interference was concerned, to make or allow discriminations against that race, as such, in the enjoyment of those fundamental rights which, by universal concession, inhere in a state of freedom?”

Harlan warned, “Today it is the colored race which is denied, by corporations and individuals wielding public authority, rights fundamental in their freedom and citizenship. At some future time, it may be that some other race will fall under the ban of race discrimination. If the constitutional amendments be enforced according to the intent with which, as I conceive, they were adopted, there cannot be, in this republic, any class of human beings in practical subjection to another class . . .”

It is significant that in 1896, Harlan was the only dissenting voice in the Supreme Court’s Plessy v. Ferguson legalizing the “separate but equal” doctrine that remained in affect until it was overturned in 1954 by the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Returning to John Bingham and Congressional debate over the 14th Amendment, Bingham’s explanation of the amendment as an all embracing guarantee of civil rights was adopted by the woman’s suffrage movement, whose white leadership initially opposed the 14th Amendment because in its second section it included the word male, writing gender distinctions into the Constitution for the first time, and the 15th Amendment because it granted voting rights to Black men, but not white women.

In 1869, Attorney Francis Minor, whose wife Virginia was the President of the Woman Suffrage Association in Missouri, drafted a series of resolutions that were adopted by National Woman Suffrage Association and endorsed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Minor argued that the Fourteen Amendment barred “provisions of the several state constitutions that exclude women from the franchise on account of sex” as “violative alike of the spirit and letter of the federal Constitution.” Following up on these resolutions, in November 1872, Virginia Minor attempted, unsuccessfully, to vote in St. Louis, while Anthony and fourteen other women in Rochester, New York voted in the Presidential election and Anthony was later arrested. Francis Minor sued the St. Louis registrar because Virginia Minor, as a married woman, was legally not permitted to sue in her own right. In the case Minor v. Happersett (1875), the Supreme Court ruled that while women were citizens of the United States and the state in which they reside, the right to vote was a privilege not granted by the 14th amendment. John Marshall Harlan had not yet been appointed to the Supreme Court

In 1884, Susan B. Anthony testified before the Senate Select Committee on Woman Suffrage, “The Constitution of the United States as it is protects me. If I could get a practical application of the Constitution it would protect me and all women in the enjoyment of perfect equality of rights everywhere under the shadow of the American flag.”

Anthony’s testimony is of great importance today because the Supreme Court will be deciding a series of cases on the legal rights of both women and undocumented immigrants. Virginia recently became the thirty-eighth state to approve the Equal Rights Amendment, first passed by Congress in 1972. The amendment simply states, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” The version passed by Congress included an expiration date, later extended to 1982. Congress and the Supreme Court most decide if the expiration date is Constitutional and if the United States now has a new 28th Amendment.

The Supreme Court decision on DACA was narrowly decided on technical grounds and the Trump Administration is pursuing new legal avenues to end legal protection for about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children. If the Court ultimately overturns DACA and subjects DACA recipients to deportation, at issue will be their Constitutional right to due process under provisions of the 14th Amendment.

Black and White: War and Race in the United States

Black and White: War and Race in the United States

Steven Braverman

Racial divide has existed since the creation of the United States.  It is especially evident in the military during both World War II and the Vietnam War. This will be a race and class analysis of soldiers’ experiences of war in WWII versus Vietnam.  The Vietnam War is tough to quantify as to the backgrounds and historical connotation of these men. “Though the military made endless, mind-numbing efforts to quantify virtually every aspect of its venture in Vietnam, it did not make (so far as anyone has discovered) a single study of the social backgrounds of its fighting men. Quantitative evidence must be gathered from a variety of disparate studies.”(Appy, 2000, p. 36).   This can be interpreted as the true impact of Vietnam and social endeavors were not thoroughly being researched.

This is an important historical information to consider in terms of relevance toward racial minorities as soldiers during the Vietnam War. Important questions that will be addressed include: how did working-class and black soldiers experience fighting in/returning from WWII?   How did working-class and black soldiers experience fighting in/returning from Vietnam?  These important questions will be answered by a variety of sources and authors.  This will be a race analysis of soldiers’ experiences of war in WWII versus Vietnam in terms of impact on culture and social depictions for minorities. Soldiers’ experiences will be discussed in order to show how race and class has a big impact on relations and soldier interactions during both wars.

Racial gap leading up to WWII for soldiers

Racial treatment and inequalities of African Americans during WWII was a very prevalent matter. Hubner, a leading historian claimed, “People who endeavored to portray a “typical” American GI or veteran faced an impossible task. More than 16 million men and women served in the armed forces between 1941 and 1945. The vast majority were white males (of various ethnic backgrounds), but there were nearly a million African American troops, mostly in service units but some fighting in segregated combat outfits. The famed Ninety-ninth Fighter Squadron, or Tuskegee Airmen, for instance, flew missions over North Africa and Europe.” (Huebner, 2008, p. 30). This probably means that majority-black soldiers were forced to do the brunt of physical combat. Segregation was prevalent even for soldiers, willing to lay down their life for the cause.    

Propaganda and racial tropes affect African Americans during World War II. Huebner expresses in his book that, “Road to Victory was one of the first expressions of that effort, representing obvious, uncomplicated propaganda. It suggested that American soldiers were capable, proud, eager participants in a conflict strangely devoid of bloodshed. The exhibit gave viewers no reason to think, moreover, that combat would have any negative effect on American servicemen, boys reared in the heartland and steeled by a mighty resolve.” (Huebner, 2008, p. 28). This can show that the “Road to Victory” is a propaganda implementation that allowed the public to censor the harsh realities of war.

Denial is prevalent in the United States as to the toll that battle can take on service men during the war. Hubener (2008) claims on Paul Fussell’s behalf: “The radio and film industries, for instance, cooperated readily with government officials in packaging the conflict and GIS for the public; they showed little blood, little psychological breakdown, and plenty of patriotism, good will, teamwork, and camaraderie” (p. 28). 15 various critics have similarly charged the press corps of World War II with willingly delivering a sanitized version of combat to the public.” (Hubener, 2008, p. 32). This can show that soldiers are in a lower bracket in terms of race than the everyday person because rather than the public making an attempt at understanding their struggles they did not do anything to help them.  Radio and film industries seem to be largely a byproduct of the government.  This is a brainwashing of sorts, showing the public what they should believe rather than what is actually happening during these battles and events from World War II.

African Americans in particular advocate for increasing military presence and want to start fights with Japan. “Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, as the United States joined the war that has been raging for so long, the largest circulation African American newspaper in the country called for a Double V campaign: Victory over our enemies at home and victory over our enemies on the battlefields abroad. The editor of the Pittsburgh Courier wrote: We call upon the president and congress to declare war on Japan and against racial prejudice in our country. Certainly, we should be strong enough to whip both of them.” (Bailey & Farber, 1993, p. 817).  This showed that African Americans supported this country wide propaganda campaign. African Americans want to take this a step farther by also declaring war on Japan to conserve democracy. This shows the pride that is taken in war efforts and the willingness by the black community to increase its presence and soldiers in foreign wars.

Segregation of the armed forces in America is prevalent during World War II in terms of representation and leadership in the Army. Dwight Eisenhower, a General and President describes the treatment and separation of soldiers and minority leaders in terms of infantries during World War II. Eisenhower claims regarding this issue, “Now, it is perfectly true the problem of segregation in the service has been discussed, to my certain knowledge, for 45 years, because I was in the Army that long” (Eisenhower, 1956). Eisenhower was a veteran of war and as such he saw the racial divide first hand during World War II. “I organized them into squads, and some of them had Negro squad leaders, some white squad leaders. But they all got along together. They lived together in the same camping grounds, ate at the same messes. And General Patton, who, at first, was very much against this, became the most rabid supporter of the idea, he said, this way. Some of these white units, by the way, were southern units; this was the thing that convinced me that the thing could be done” (Eisenhower, 1956). Eisenhower, largely on the basis of this quote, seems to disagree with the notion that there was severe racial disparity. And yet, he proceeds to show that he had two squads he seems to have the “separate but equal” mentality which is anything but what it may seem. He has two racial leaders representing their groups that in it of itself being needed is racist in terms of the breaking up of the platoon. 

Propaganda is a prominent source during World War II for depictions of soldiers. Huebner (2008), a specialist on “Road to Victory” claims that “the photographs for Road to Victory had been selected from a limited and censored body of images and included no pictures of combat, wounded soldiers, or the dead. During World War II federal and military authorities exerted tight control over the dissemination of photographs, making what one scholar has called “the most systematic and far-reaching effort in its history to shape the visual experience of the citizenry” (p. 29).  This can be used to show the manipulation by the government to show the appropriate gender and race to the public. This can show manipulation by the U.S government over how certain soldiers are to be portrayed and thought about in terms of the everyday person.

Racial inequities during WWII

Fear among the public over veterans coming back with mental hardships is prevalent during World War II. Sharon Raynor (2018), who studies societal effects on soldiers claims:

In 1945, Harold Wilke, a journalist for the Baltimore Afro American newspaper, provided a socio-political commentary on both the pity and fear that the nation exhibited toward veterans with disabilities by stating: When you greet your wounded friend or relative for the first time, use your intelligence and imagination. Greet him as your friend, who was away and has now returned. Letting horror spread over your features and get in your voice because of his crutches or empty sleeves or sightless eyes will make him realize that you think of him, not as a personality, but as a cripple. Greet the Man, not the wound (p. 207).

 This claim can mean that socioeconomics is a huge factor in treatment of individuals with disabilities. Rather than making an attempt at empathy, the public relishes in their ignorance toward soldiers returning home from battle.

Masculinity is another factor in the public view of military personnel. The image of the white, strong, soldier based on propaganda, previously stated in section 2, was prevalent throughout the United States. Christina Jarvis claims, “The creation and maintenance of a hegemonic militarized masculinity that emerged in and across U.S. institutions…as America engaged in a global war.” (Jarvis, 2005, p. 4). This can be interpreted that America had a preconceived bias towards the military, making them out as superior super soldiers. The goal was to look confident and to look like a champion for the military.

Leadership and being a minority soldier is of great importance to the NAACP in terms of providing and advocating for power for black people. The NAACP was instrumental in advocating for the advancement of blacks in positions of national defense. The letter in 1941 by A. Phillip Randolph claims, “Now I have been thinking about the Negro and national defense and have come to the conclusion that something drastic has got to be done to shake official Washington and the white industrialists and labor forces of America to the realization of the fact that Negroes mean business about getting their rights as American citizens under national defense. To this end I have decided to undertake the organization of a march of ten thousand Negroes or more upon Washington” (Randolph, 2014). This could mean that there were organized protests for soldiers and military similar to the Vietnam War protests. There are racial injustices being fought from World War II which parallels Vietnam and their protests against the war in the 1960s.

Nazis in some ways are treated with more respect than black American soldiers in the mid- 1940’s. Huebner does a good job displaying this by stating, “In early 1945 Lena Horne performed before Nazi prisoners in Arkansas, while African American troops were excluded from the show. Meanwhile, near St. Louis a white lieutenant ordered several black soldiers to give up their seats—in the front of the black car—for fifteen Italian POWS being transported by rail” (Hubener, 2008). This can be interpreted as African Americans are not able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. The Nazis who commit genocide and crimes against humanity were able to bask in the entertainment. This shows that even though they committed heinous acts, they were almost given a free pass because they were the right color. Reverse logic is being shown because the people that should be able to enjoy the music and festivities cannot enjoy them, while the Nazis are being treated with a modicum of respect that is not deserved or earned by their actions.

Racial inequalities from economically disadvantaged communities

Class divide in terms of race for Vietnam soldiers is immensely vast for the black community in terms of racial relations. Christian G. Appy can show the racial divide in terms of economics, “Poor and working class soldiers whether black or white were more likely to be trained for combat than were soldiers economically and educationally more advantaged. While enlisted men from both races were primarily from the bottom half of the social structure, blacks were considerably poorer. One study found that 90 percent of black soldiers in Vietnam were from working class and poor backgrounds” (Appy, 2000, p. 35). This can mean that economic backgrounds can be of great consequence in war and especially during the Vietnam War. Those who enlisted in the Vietnam War tended to come from economically disadvantaged areas.

The Veterans Bureau of Physicians shows racial bias towards veterans of different races. Sharon Raynor (2018) contends that, “Historian Robert F. Jefferson contends that the history of the development of service-related disability policies in the twentieth century often reflected nonclinical evaluative practices couched in cultural and racial values. For example, Veterans Bureau physicians and administrators defined disability with reference to medical characteristics they thought innate to each race and that distinguished racial groups of veterans from one another” (p. 211). This can be interpreted as racism that blinds the public from characterizing disabilities for military personnel. Innate traits is the attempt at biological racism which has been completely disproven but shows the racial division in the thinking of this country. This type of racial superiority is what the Nazis advocate for and try to determine if one being is worth the right to live.

Vietnam War soldiers statistics of Racism

The racial gap during both wars can be shown through the numbers of soldiers that may be of a poorer class. Blacks were excluded in the military, although on paper this was not to be the case. Appy points this out claiming, “For blacks, whatever their economic standing, to become a reservist or guardsman was nearly impossible. In 1964 only 1.45 percent of the Army National Guard was black. By 1968 this tiny percentage had actually decreased to 1.26. Exclusion of blacks was especially egregious in the South” (Appy, 2000, p. 50). This can be taken as reality is skewed on the basis of not being taken at face value this idea of racial equality is something that only exists on paper because society seems to largely not be ready to integrate blacks into certain sections of the military during this time of the mid-1960s. In the 1960s, the number of people in the guard positions actually went down as time went on the opposite of the intention of allowing integration into the military for Reserve positions.

Blacks seem to almost always get the short end of the stick when it comes to their population of soldiers in heavy duty combat. Raynor (2018) shows just how disproportionate these percentages are in terms of the amount of people who could actually serve in the Vietnam War.  Some of Raynor’s statistics from the war include:

86.3% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasian (includes Hispanics); 12.5% (7,241) were African American; 1.2% belonged to other races. 86.8% of the men who were killed as a result of hostile action were Caucasian; 12.1% (5,711) were African American; 1.1% belonged to other races. 14.6% (1,530) of non-combat deaths were among blacks. 34% of African Americans who enlisted volunteered for the combat arms. Overall, African Americans suffered 12.5% of the deaths in Vietnam at a time when the percentage of African Americans of military age was 13.5% of the total population (p. 207).

  This can lead one to believe that, although a vast majority of White Americans served during the Vietnam War, African Americans lost 13.5 percent of their total military age population and have over 12.5 percent of their soldiers die. This means that very little to any African American soldiers survive during the Vietnam War.  This could also be telling, by the fact that most African American soldiers have some of the most demanding jobs and death tolls. They are clearly the most expendable soldiers because of their race, hence the extremely high death rate among their community.

Conclusion

There is the establishment of racial disparity when it comes to soldiers from WWII to the Vietnam War. Race is indeed a problem for soldiers as to how they were depicted in the public. There seems to be a glossing over in terms of war and facts as to what really happens in terms of race relations by the media during both wars. The legacy of these soldiers that they leave behind is hidden by the world because the United States likes to support their vision and not the reality for these black soldiers.  The racial divide seems to be on three fronts, from the media, the government and the military itself. This was shown that the laws in place do not fully represent the actual positive consequences of these minority soldiers in terms of agency that they actually had in their environment.

Minority soldiers are largely a representation of a bigger issue in society in terms of their treatment and their lack of respect from a military standpoint from the United States. Minorities are often the first to die and to see battle in both of these wars. During the Vietnam War there are numbers disproportionate to the number of Caucasian soldiers that died and were willing to serve, sacrifice for the country. There seems to be a census of glossing over battles and wars in order to depict an America that never exists in terms of African American soldiers being erased from battles. The reality is that America repeatedly uses African Americans in a way that treats them as lesser citizens, in terms of the military and being forced to segregate from the white soldiers during World War II. The experiences of these minority soldiers is an important and often overlooked factor in racial equality and can be branched alongside the civil rights movement. This paper has proven that there are many racial factors that decide a lot of the military tactics and treatment of soldiers in terms of racial relations in the United States. Overall, it seems that roles are being played by the Government, Movies and the Civil Rights Movement. Each of these factors are quintessential in determining race relations and how they evolve in the United States from World War II to the Vietnam War.

References

Appy, C.G. (2000). Working-class war: American combat soldiers and Vietnam. The University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, NC.

Bailey, B., and Farber, D. (1993). The ‘Double-V’ campaign in World War II Hawaii: African Americans, racial ideology, and federal power. Journal of Social History, 26 (4), 817.

Eisenhower, D. (1956, October 5). The President’s news conference. The American Presidency Project. Retrieved from https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/the-presidents-news-conference-315.

Hubener, A.J. (2008). The warrior image soldiers in American culture from the Second World War to the Vietnam era. The University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, NC.

Jarvis, C.S. (2004). The male body at war. Northern Illinois University Press: Dekalb, IL.

Randolph, A.P. (2014). “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A long struggle for freedom/World War II and Post War (1940–1949).Library of Congress. Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/civil-rights-act/world-war-ii-and-post-war.html Raynor, S.D. (2018). “The double consciousness and disability dilemma: Trauma and the African American veteran.” Word & Text: A Journal of Literary Studies & Linguistics, 8, 207–21