Racial Warfare Essay

1292 words - 6 pages

Wartime produces an inevitable need for political cohesion. World War II represented a conflict of national endurance, moral obligations and cultural pride which mobilized public support in all countries involved. However, WWII can also be considered a byproduct of racial discrimination and race-thinking which united social mentality in such conflictuous times. Despite heightened awareness of racial superiority after the holocaust, race-thinking extended throughout WWII. The war manifested racial prejudices which illustrated both the United States’ and Japan’s national pride and pretensions as well as tensions and fears, creating a new form of racial consciousness. Each country created a ...view middle of the document...

For example, Americans perceived Japanese brutality as a repercussion of the severe disciplinary when fostering children. Such development led to an inability for autonomy and produced an inferiority complex, in which the Japanese felt the need to compensate for in their relations with Westerners. Resultingly, these notions transcended into a considerable degree of race-thinking biases that confirmed that Japanese war tactics were a product of “national-character”, explaining their primitive. childish, and neurotic tendencies.
As the war continued and worsened, American perspectives of the Japanese continued under racial stereotypes. The war was considered to be immensely brutal and savage and so were the Japanese, characterized as being “subhuman”. Anti-Japanese sentiment was distributed throughout the media via racial slang, such as “Japs” and “Nip”. Often comapred to Nazi’s, the Japanese were never considered to be good, unlike the possibility of “good Germans” existing ( Dower, 79). In order to deter social concern regarding the nature of the war, the enemy was dehumanized and this mentality was adopted by all Americans. Racial dehumanization continued, as Americans frequently referred to the Japanese in animalistic terms, illustrating the populace as monkeys, dogs, mice, cockroaches, etc (81). Such comparison allowed for a further application of separating “them” from “us”.
Since colonization and expansionism, nonwhites have been considered savage, inferior and subhuman. However, Japan managed to remain isolated from Western influence and imperialism for several centuries. Such strength did not bring American respect but rather admitted the Japanese into the previous nonwhite classifications of the past, using prototypical race words as war words (148). The drastic differences of Japan ignited American fear and anxiety of a rising Asia known as the “Yellow Peril”which fueled Japanese disdain and encouraged the perception of the Japanese as primitive. Therefore, despite Western incomprehension of Japanese culture, the U.S. felt threatened by Asian uprisal and committed itself to a merciless war.
Prior to pearl Harbor, the United States greatly underestimated Japan’s military potential due to their racial dehumanization. The mindset of race shifted when the United States recognized the strength of Japan. Previously considered primitive and childish, American began to acknowledge Japanese vigor, “...in the Japanese fighting men, with their incredible endurance and perseverance under the most forbidding conditions, and their apparent willingness to die” (Dower, 163). The military successes that Japan began seizing, offered a new racial explanation: from subhuman to superhuman. Such construction of the Japanese sought to deny the fact that they were capable of intellectual military tactics similar to that of the U.S.. Additionally, assigning special powers to the once “lesser men” illustrates an American pursuit of defense and a...

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