In grade school, we usually only learn about Nazi propaganda that promoted their very misguided agenda. But they were not the only ones producing propaganda during World War II. The United States was not shy of producing propaganda to bolster her own war efforts. This blog will show a few of the political cartoons drawn by Dr. Seuss that are deemed racist and deplorable today but were a normal part of the war effort for Americans during World War II.
Americans had a hard time separating the Japanese enemy we were fighting abroad from the Japanese citizens and immigrants present in America during World War II.The Dr. Seuss cartoons showing the Japanese classify them all in one group as the enemy. This image shows the over-dramatization of a Japanese man. The slanted-eyes and the grin play into making the man seem not very bright. His features are also over-exaggerated making him look unappealing. This goes along with what we learned in class about appeal and exaggeration. Dr. Seuss used these two aspects to his advantage to make the enemy look dumb and like a nuisance. Making the enemy look this way helped Dr. Seuss’ goal to promote the sale of war bonds.
The second image shows similar features of the Japanese as in the first image with the exaggerated grins and mustaches. This cartoon shows the Japanese men lining up, all along the West Coast, to receive some TNT to help Japan’s war effort against the U.S. They are labeled as the “Honorable Fifth Column.” A fifth column is “a group of secret sympathizers or supporters of an enemy that engage in espionage or sabotage within defense lines or national borders.” This explicitly brands the Japanese present in America as enemies and spies when we know now this was not the case.
Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated many childrens’ books and cartoons. Many do not know about this political side of Dr. Seuss. World War II was all-encompassing in the everyday lives of Americans. Many wanted to give their part and this was how Dr. Seuss contributed.