1. Names. Word from Kristin or anybody re the WORTH Center?
Film on Thursday, remember to come by 9:20 if at all possible. See web site for background on Roger Moore and other projects he’s been involved with since. http://www.michaelmoore.com/
1a. In the news . . . Boondocks, perhaps, http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=index2&cid=1063
2. Just a bit of gap-bridging to start, perhaps.
The first half of the 20th century, not such a big time frame, hmm? The century began with empires, colonialism, the White Man’s Burden, and a great confidence about the ability of white males of European descent to make the world run more or less the way they thought it should.
The U.S., still assimilating and settling its share of the continent, didn’t acquire an overseas empire to compare with Britain’s or France’s. But note the foreign adventures in Cuba and the Philippines. See Lisa’s web site for more.
Men like John Dewey and William James—disciples of pragmatism, believers in reason and progress and the ability of human beings to make the world better. Angel’s site has some of Dewey’s quotes, and Brad found James’ lecture “The Moral Equivalent of War.”
The Progressive Era, and Populist leaders like William Jennings Bryan; reform movements on labor, gender, and other issues—Prohibition and women’s suffrage by 1920. Bryan’s plan for international arbitration and cooling off periods, 183.
Humanities 2 spends considerable time on the European/world side of all this, but it’s relevant to our study as well. As with the Civil War, people expected a rather neat and tidy little war. What happened, instead, was nearly endless trench warfare, suicidal frontal assaults on machine gun positions, mustard gas, and the younger generations of England, France, Germany and Austria-Hungary being reduced by a third to a half.
The eventual result of the war: not a controlled, contained little enterprise with some shuffling of boundaries and shifting of powers, but unprecedented destruction and loss of life. U. S. entry helped swing the tide against Germany and Austria. The failure of Wilson’s League of Nations, and the harsh terms of the treaty of Versailles. The war to end all wars merely set up an even greater and more destructive one, only twenty years later.
3. The current chapter, on World War II as “the Good War.” Fascinating to me how many people said that this chapter made them mad, in some way or other, though for very different reasons. Darin said there’s no point studying it because things will never happen quite that way again anyway. Galina complained that J/H never mention the Great Patriotic War, though on p. 201 they do note the 25,000,000 deaths in the Soviet Union. Becky was shocked by the statistics on that page, and wonders about “fighting for freedom” and locking up Japanese-Americans at the same time. Brian mentions the bombing of civilians and the controversy over the use of atomic weapons. Kristin says there’s no such thing as a good war . . .
Americans have made a major effort to remember it that way, surely, especially since Korea and Vietnam, conflicts with much murkier objectives and outcomes. Even many near-pacifists pause at this one, and say that Hitler had to be stopped. If the question is framed as “Should the world have taken up arms to fight Nazism, or just surrendered?” the answer seems pretty obvious. But of course that’s not the only question that might be asked.
I’m quite ready to grant that, given the alternatives after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. could hardly do otherwise than fight the war. I certainly recognize the bravery and sacrifice of those who fought, and I’m surely glad that our side won. But let’s think about some other aspects as well. Maybe, as Garrett says, these things are well known. But maybe not, too, at least in their implications.
The costs. About sixty million dead, mostly civilians. 25 million in the Soviet Union—about a tenth of the population—a figure that the U.S. might have done well to recall during the days of the Cold War, when we widely assumed that the Soviets would jump into another war at a moment’s notice if they saw the slightest chance of success. I read lately that about 10 million people were connected in some way to somebody who died last Sept. 11. It’s safe to say that virtually everybody in the Soviet Union was connected to somebody who died in W.W II.
Six million in Poland, four million in Germany, two million in Japan, 1.5-2 million in Yugoslavia. From 5% civilian deaths in WW I to 66% in WW II, mostly because the fighting was no longer localized/restricted to narrow battlefields.
Transformations of U.S. society. Total mobilization, transformation (and revitalization) of industry. Toward a permanently militarized economy and society—we’ve had at least two million people in uniform ever since, and troops stationed all over the world. Restrictions on civil liberties, and internment of Japanese Americans.
Kristin found a web site with a useful summary of much of this information:
Strategic bombing. Deliberate attacks on civilians en masse, for the first time in U.S. history. Accounts of Japanese and German atrocities—which were real—and the quickly escalating brutality all around. German “Blitz” of London, and Allied bombing in response. Firestorms of Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo. And then of course the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
NOTE: when I searched for “Dresden firebomb,” I got this site, http://www.nidlink.com/~aryanvic/Dresden.html . It seems a pretty accurate description of the Allied bombing campaigns, but note the source: some kind of Aryan Nation group. Gulp.
And the atomic bombings. Even in 1994-95, too controversial to allow a Smithsonian exhibit that would have told some of the results, and recognized the possibility that the war might have ended without either nuclear bombs or an invasion of Japan. J/H put the outcome to “the demonic momentum of militarism on both sides” (209). What do you think? 200,000 Japanese lives. Dropping bombs in the middle of Toledo and Dayton would probably produce comparable results.
What were the options? As I said earlier, there were few good ones by 1941, or even 1938. There was some resistance to Nazi rule, especially to the deportation of Jews and others to the death camps. But for all the Schindlers and Corrie Ten Booms, there were thousands of others who went along.
To come up with a plausible nonviolent answer, probably we need to think back further. Throughout the period from 1914-1945 (and beyond), the logic of warfare overwhelmed all else as a way of resolving disputes among the nations of Europe. When we look back at them, those disputes seem utterly out of proportion with the devastation that the wars caused. But for those who look at that period and conclude that therefore there’s no hope, consider Europe today. Germany and France and England , deadly adversaries in both wars, share the same currency. When you cross the border from Germany to France you don’t even have to slow down. The idea of one of those countries going to war against the other seems absurd.
How did that happen? Not because anybody conquered anybody else. But because trade and travel were established, and it became far more profitable for everybody involved to do business than to shoot at each other. In the Muenster cathedral there’s a plaque about a ceremony, an exchange with Coventry Cathedral in England. Both were destroyed during the war, but both have been rebuilt. Peace is possible.
This website gives further accounts on the invention and dropping of the A-bombs: http://www.hist.unt.edu/w2-14abg.htm.
This website is really short and is written by a student, but I thought that his viewpoints on the prevention of WWII and alternatives to Hiroshima and Nagasaki were interesting (not that I necessarily agree with them): http://library.thinkquest.org/25909/html/content/ww2_alts.html.
My web page is http://2think.org/quotes.html regarding John Dewey mentioned on page 180 in our book. [ . . . ]“It is not truly realistic or scientific to take short views, to sacrifice the future to immediate pressure, to ignore facts and forces that are disagreeable and to magnify the enduring quality of whatever falls in with immediate desire. It is false that the evils of the situation arise from absence of ideals; they spring from the wrong ideals.”
www.pearlharborattacked.com is my web address. It shows just how tragic any war could turn out right on the cover of the page.
I found a website that talked about the “Good War” and its conscientious objectors. It mainly talks about how World War II was a bloody war and that the people who objected to killing were the outcasts.
We have always heard that of any of the wars that the US has been a part of, the 2nd World War was the most justified. It was "the good war." We helped stop the Holocaust. This is what I think of when I hear about World War II. The Holocaust that the Germans put the Jews through was a time of unthinkable human brutality. It is interesting to me that the cause of the war that we most associate with was actually a nice bi-product. "To rescue the Jews" was not even mentioned as a reason that we fought in Frank Capra's book Why We Fight. American unity during this war actually had to do with political ideals. We were actually fighting for freedom and democracy against dictatorship and imperialistic aggressions. This to me seems like a double standard type situation- vaguely reminiscent of today. How could we be fighting for freedom when we were placing our own citizens in concentration camps. We were herding up Japanize Americans and displacing our own citizens in the name of preserving our freedom. Current day we must put up with increased securities (which put a damper on our freedoms), again in the name of freedom. I myself appreciate many of the freedoms that accompany living in the United States. But it seems to me that freedom takes on a double standard when in times of war. An upsetting example of this was shared in the book. While the Japanese were in concentration camps they were being taught only American History and specifically about freedom.
I was shocked at the statistics of World War II that the book shared. It is once again proof to me that we only hear what the government wants us to hear. We are very selective in our memories and in what we share with the next generation. Stories of injustices and US mistakes are suppressed. I could not believe the number of civilian casualties during the WW II. Precision/strategic bombing was put aside and incendiary bombing took its place. The US eventually stooped to take part in this type of combat during this war. It is a sickening kind of vengeance- 30 Japanize civilians were killed for every one military death at Pearl Harbor. These are the statistics that you don't hear about in class. Not only the US, but other countries and nations are selective in the retelling of war time stories.
One last thought that has stuck with me in this chapter is that there was a difference in the way front line combatants and behind the line combatants remember and retell their stories. "The overwhelming testimony of veterans of actual battle was that they were sustained not by patriotic ideals but by comradeship with fellow soldiers and by the struggle to survive. The gloss of patriotic glory- the making of battle films and the erecting of heroic statues and monuments- was produced by people who had not been through the trauma of actual battle." (pg.205)
The fact that World War 2, or any war at that, could be called "The Good War" just boggles my mind. How can any war be a good war? No, correction, NO war is a good war. I come from a Mennonite background, and was brought up pacifist, which probably has some affect on my opinions. But I believe that sometimes war is unavoidable, a last resort. And this is the only way that i think war should happen, when there is absolutely no options left, and we have no other choice. I just don't see how somebody could call any war a good war. Even in the book, it says "Whatever its positive side-effects in the United States or elsewhere, World War 2 was an overwhelmingly disastrous even for human civilation. The statistics of human deaths are mind-boggling." It als goes on to say that the war was itself a "holocost ten times over," and "over the globe, some sixty million people died in the war." I personally hate wars. I know i have my liberty and freedom because of it, and because of all the people that risked their lives. I honestly just think it is so stupid that so many lives have to be lost because people, countries, or whatever else have conflicts that cannot be resolved any other way. And a lot of the time it is not even the people fighting that suffer the most, it is the civilians that are innocent. One other thing the book says is " The proportion of civilian to total deaths caused by war rose from five percent in World War 1 to sixty-six percent in World War 2." That is an amazing difference. So, just with this information , let along tons of other statistics, how can people still keep calling World War 2, "The Just War?"
Erin Renee Wahl
Issues in Modern America
Well Jeff, after reading the chapter on Civil Rights, and a half hour nap to reawaken my views on the aforementioned chapter as well as life, I have come to a few logical, not-incredibly-spectacular conclusions.
I think my favorite point that this chapter had to make, was that the nonviolent Civil Rights movement was excellent at displaying that it was most of the white population of America at the time, that was instigating all the violence and hatred, rather than the black population. The involvement of the black community in nonviolent protests (although there were some violent protests also), seems to me to give them the image of being the bigger man. To quote part of Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", King said that "we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive."
Another conclusion I came to was that although the government recognized the problems going on in the south, and although they realized the need for change they constantly seemed to drag their feet. For example, the president seemed shocked after reading the Kerner Commission's report. I was similarly dismayed upon learning of the United States mistreatment of Japanese Americans during World War II in a history class in my high school. Blaming people for race, something they have no control over is definitely a mark of injustice. I myself am embarrassed that during that time we continued to spout the ideals of a democratic nation boasting equality and liberty when we were just as bad as others in history who have been accused of racism. For this kind of discrimination to have happened at all seems to be a blemish on the United States democratic complexion. But I am hoping that it is a blemish we are willing to learn from, as all things in history should be.
Response to World War II
I usually do not like to read about war, but this chapter was fairly interesting. I never realized how many lives were lost during the war. Even though America won, it still seems like the lives could have been spared. The chapter stated the lives lost were 400,000, but the triumph was so much more than what was lost. I took that sentence a little personal having a great uncle being captured and starved. He actually traded in his watch for a handful of snails to eat because he was so hungry. So having personal feelings of that, the way the chapter made that comment hit me the wrong way. I look at World War II as a good thing, even though it was out of revenge, because it brought a lot of good things back into this country. For example, it revived America’s economy after the great depression. It brought the American people together: the rich and the poor, business and labor, urban and rural. It also brought about the “New deal”, such as social security. Yeah, it hit us hard with debt, but some good things did come out of the war. In a lot of ways I think the American people with compare pearl harbor to 9/11, and think if we go to war with Iraq, we will come out successful and be more powerful than we are now. Which it is in our favor to win, but what would happen if they did have all these nuclear weapons, would they blow us away?
One thing I found kind of troubling is there are so many movies of the Holocaust, but yet during that same time Americans were putting Japanese- Americans in concentration camps. I know they are Japanese, but they are also part of the American society, and we were killing and hurting our own people and most likely they knew nothing of about Pearl Harbor. We don’t know that for a fact, but we could have been killing innocent people. The chapter also states “if WWII needed any more moral justification, the information from the Nazi death camps confirmed the case.” It then goes on to talk about how Americans weren’t in the war to free the Jews, but it ended up being the number one aim. Then what about what Americans were doing to the Japanese- Americans? Isn’t that immoral? America was not killing the Japanese-Americans, but many of them were U.S. citizens and were forced to give up their properties, even though Americans had no proof of them being involved in Pearl Harbor. It is just an example of social injustice, aren’t American people suppose to be treated with dignity and respect, than why were these Americans asked to give up there personal belongings when we had no proof or any suspicion?
Overall I enjoyed this chapter, it brought up some good points, but also some questionable points.
Here is the address of the web
site I found related to this reading: <BR
It's kind of sickening to call World War II the "Good War" since so many
people died, and obviously no other country in the world would look at it
as a good war, but I think it is true that it was a good war for the United
States. I'm not saying that war is good, because it's not. Peace is
definitely the ideal thing to strive for. But if you look at the end results
of World War II, it's hard not to say that it ended up being good for the
U.S. Just look at how unified our country became after the attack on Pearl
Harbor. Has there ever been a time in our country when everybody put aside
their differences more than during World War II? The war also helped get
the U.S. out of the Great Depression and helped to boost the economy. We
also proved that we are the most powerful nation in the world after the
conclusion of the war. I can't think of anyone else that fought a two-front
war and ended up victorious in the end. That's not to say that we didn't
have help from other countries. If you look at World War II compared to the
other wars we fought after it, such as Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian
Gulf, than World War II should be considered a good war for us.
The book seemed all too quick to point out whether the bombs we dropped on
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were really necessary. I don't know if anything else
would have worked or not. What I found disturbing was how crazy the leaders
of all these nations became about power. At first it appeared that
everybody agreed that bombing civilians was wrong, and then later everybody
went nuts. I don't know who the first one was to break this agreement, but
once it happened, everybody went crazy. Suddenly, innocent civilians didn't
matter anymore. To me it seems like everybody was trying to outdo the other
and see who could destroy the most and show off their power. It's sad
really, that it all came down to this.
The article I found related to this topic was about Hitler's doctor who foresaw him as the world's craziest criminal. The doctor called Hitler a border case between genius and insanity. I found this statement interesting and kind of shocking too. I can see how Hitler would be called insane, that's pretty obvious, but to call him a genius? After I thought a little about that statement, though, I could kind of see how he might be called a genius. I mean, how do you get a whole nation behind you like that? He brainwashed a whole country into his beliefs. It's scary, but at the same time it does take a bit of smarts to be able to do that.
I have to admit that reading such writings makes me really mad. It would be the best way to describe it, if I said that it is just one-sided. World War II was a big event in the history of all countries in the world. The author here writes about the active part that americans took in it. Now, I would like to remind those who have forgotten and to let know those who did not know it before: THE BIGGEST, LONGEST, MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE WWII WAS FROM 1941 TO 1945 ON THE TERRITORY OF THE SOVIET UNION AND IT IS CALLED THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR. I want to tell that at that time there were no americans there. The third front was opened at the end of the war when it was clear, that the Soviet Union is going to win. Of course, the US were among winners!!!! THe author talks about the "triumph of american forces", completely forgetting the fact that so many Soviet people died defending THEIR motherland. The writing also says that America fought against Soviet dictators, ignoring the fact that America actually fought with those dictators against Germany. The author talks about 400,000 americans who died, but says nothing about the fact that every fourth person from belarus died in that war, that several millions Soviet people died. The WWII helped American economy by increasing production and by creating new jobs, but at the same time thousands of cities were destroyed in the Soviet Union, thousands of villages werw burned with all those living there.
Writing a book for college students it is unacceptable to ignore the fact that international students might read it!!!It is just unfair. Giving the american students incomplete or wrong information is not right!!!
These are my main thoughts, but I can say a lot more about this problem. I just don't think a lot of people will want to listen and HEAR it. So, i just keep it inside of me, pretending that there is no ignorance in this world.
In reading this selection I begin to see how people have selective memory when it comes to remembering specific events from certain wars. Some wars are considered better than others because of a victory or a gain in some fashion. For example, some people see World War II as the war we save the Jews in. The problem is when you dissect it we did not go in there with the thought that we were going to save the Jews. I think many times it is how each person wants to percieve the war so it makes thier side look good. I think in wars it tends to bring different classes together and we call it pride in our country. It is good to support your country, but I think people need to put themselves in the place of those they are wanting to attack. I am not saying that war can always be avoided, but many times alternate methods can be taken. I believed that the author was trying to tell us how people take the wrong views on wars and try to focus on the good instead of the bad. In some cases that is true, but I think people are just trying to get over the pain in their own way.
I found the website www.cnn.com/2002/world/europe/09/23/blair.iraq/index.html and I thought this shows perception. It tells how Tony Blair is percieving the way we should handle Saddam and why. That is what I took from the book and I think this is another good example.
I am not quite sure how to respond to this chapter. My initial
understanding was that this was going to be a chapter based on why most
Americans call World War II a "good war" and why we should possibly rethink
that philosophy. However, the deeper I read into the chapter, the less I
saw this as the main idea. Instead, what I was reading was simple facts,
most of which was not new information for me. I suppose the author may have
been trying to get us to agree with him solely on our own, but successful
persuasion is normally reached through active involvement in the argument
and not through simply throwing out random facts. I think this specific
subject, along with many other historical disagreements, is being totally
over-analyzed. This is history. That means that it already happened and no
matter what we do and what we think we can never change any aspect in what
happened in any way. Some people make the argument that we can learn from
history so we don't make the same mistakes again. I agree that a lot of
times it is possible to learn from history. However, we will never face the
exact same situations again in the future. If somehow Americans could come
to a consensus on World War II about what we did right and what we did
wrong, I really do not think that would ever be beneficial to us. We are
never going to face another situation exactly like that. Even with very
similar circumstances, there are certainly going to be small differences and
those differences require a totally different approach to the situation.
Another problem I have with over-analyzing history is this: While some
people are trying to figure out the past, today is passing them by.
I am in Group D, and here is some response for my section:
I was very intrigued by this chapter because to draw a similar parallel from the Civil War, the enemy was us, or from within. I feel that is why it is a touchy subject. African-Americans could serve in WWII, die for "their" country, but not vote without threats on their lives. I guess my real question is this, who would be looked down upon more from that timeframe, those who were black and did not want to disrupt the status quo, even if oppressive, or the white people who believed in equality, but would not voice it for fear of being in the minority? Does either stance make one a better or worse person? I am impressed by the nonviolence civil rights movement, because African-Americans were trying to follow the laws of a government that were not beneficial to them.