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Racism In World War Ii. Essay

1698 words - 7 pages

The common conception of the Second World War as being a "good war" is incorrect. The fight to defend freedom was tarnished by obvious contradictions in the supposedly free United States. Non-white Americans suffered discrimination comparable to the "evil" acts displayed by the enemy. The pacific theater, where Imperial Japan was pursuing a united Asian sphere, presented obvious threats to western democratic society. Japanese culture combined with tactics learned from the west to create a military that was unique to any foe America had faced before. Britain and Russia had already been embarrassed in Singapore and the Russo-Japanese war respectively; fostering concern that white supremacy was in jeopardy. Racism was a staple of civilization that had discriminated non-whites for centuries. Colonization in the Americas, Africa, Asia and the West Indies by Anglos had angered the non-white population native to those areas. Manifest destiny required that the superior race control the world and educate the inferior races. African Americans had suffered through slavery and were still second-class citizens at risk of being lynched even in the "jim crow" twentieth century. Questionable empirical research supported the theory that all other races were, and should be, subservient to whites. Racism was not confined to Caucasians, as Japan regarded its Yamoto race as omnipotent to other Asians. The Japanese viewed Anglos as soft and unable to conduct a protracted war. World War II erupted in the pacific with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and ended with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Throughout the war, racism would directly confront American "freedom," dehumanize both sides through propaganda and cause horrific atrocities.America had been founded on the idea that all (white) men were created equal and had rights that were now in jeopardy. "Roosevelt's war for the 'Four freedoms'- freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear - became for [non-whites] the 'War for Racial Equality'" (Takaki 7). Minorities questioned being drafted to fight in a war to protect rights that they did not enjoy in their own country. While some viewed military service as a way to earn these rights, others refused induction and rioted in Detroit and Harlem. The government did not recognize "Freedom of worship" as Jewish lobbyists' concerns about the Nazi holocaust were ignored. "Freedom from want" excluded non-whites as they were limited in their employment opportunities and confined to impoverished neighborhoods or inadequate reservations. In the south, blacks that wanted jobs in the city to escape the unprofitable cotton prices of the great depression were met with angry unemployed whites who shouted "No jobs for n****rs until every white man has a job!" (Takaki 38) In the north, the situation was not different, as "men, women and children 'combed the streets and searched in garbage cans for food, foraging with dogs and cats'" (Takaki 38)....

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