Everybody uses propaganda or is driven into it in daily life. It is not so easy to figure out that you are facing with propaganda in some ways. In her article “Propaganda: How Not to Be Bamboozled”, Donna Woolfolk Cross defines what propaganda means and comes up with some subtopics of propaganda such as “name-calling” and “plain-folks appeal”. Some people would rather to refer propaganda for good purposes but most people are manipulated by opportunist propagandists.
According to Cross, by asking questions and not believing everybody so easily, people’s futures would be written by themselves, not by the propagandists. The future of Americans in World War II was written by propagandists who used some tactics to convince women to apply for male jobs to serve their country in the war. In Cross’ article, there are several types of propaganda which try to shoot people with their own guns. First one of those types is called “name-calling”. This device of propaganda aims to call something or someone a bad name.
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The propagandist hopes that people would not think about what he said and react immediately to the attached names such as “two-faced liar” or maybe simply “stupid”. The best defense which the author offers is to question the idea apart from the bad name attached to it. On the other hand, the propagandist may use the opposite of name-calling, “glittering generalities”. This way of propaganda is the usage of good words instead of bad words to make people accept without questioning anything.
While this propaganda style sounds innocent, there may be hidden purposes to let people forget about the real issues and believe that everything is just fine. One other subtopic of propaganda in Cross’ article is called “plain-folks appeal”. Some propagandists use plain folks appeal to pretend they are one of the family members or one member of a group. Cross thinks that with that strategy, they try to seem like they are standing for their people’s rights or goodness, and they hope to get attention and respect for being one of them.
For example, while a businessman goes to dinner with his workers, he tries to show that he shares the same condition with his workers. Against that propaganda, Cross’ advise is to ask what the propagandist’s place in their lives, really. The propagandists also use people’s natural habits with “bandwagon” tactic, Cross says. Bandwagon appeal encourages people to support a group or idea because others do. Nobody wants to be alone, so this is the understanding of belonging to a herd. “Argumentum ad populum” is another subtopic of Cross’ article that means “stroking”.
Stroking is a way of flattering people with fancy words. On the other hand, Cross briefs the main purpose of this tactic that is to make people believe that they are the best so that propagandists can move on the next level for their own benefits. The tactics bandwagon and stroking of propaganda were very popular during World War II (1939-1945). Some governments used those tactics to encourage people to join the army, some to convince their soldiers to fight, and some to get people’s support for their war in any way. One of those governments was USA.
They sometimes used tactics of propaganda to encourage women to help their government by working in male jobs, mostly heavy ones while men were away from home for the war. In 1942, American women first met “Rosie the Riveter” with a song written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb. The song became very popular with a lot of artists but the most popular one was Kay Kyser who was the leader of a big band. The song’s main character Rosie was a woman who is a tireless assembly line worker and the lyrics is “All the day long, whether rain or shine, she’s part of the assembly line.
She’s making history, working for victory, Rosie the Riveter”. Rosie’s representative in real life was mostly Rose Will Monroe who was born in Kentucky, in 1920. She worked at Aircraft factory to help building bombers for the U. S. Army Air Forces. With this fitting image of Rosie the Riveter, Monroe was asked to be a film star to encourage women to work for their country’s war effort. Her posters and films were everywhere in 1940s of USA. During 1931 and 1941, the original Rosie was actually Shirley Karp Dick but she was not popular as she was in the end of World War II.
In the song’s lyrics, it is obvious to recognize flattering sayings such as “making history” and “working for victory”. Those sayings are good examples of stroking because propagandists wanted women to believe that their country cannot defeat their enemies without women’s help. The aim of that propaganda was to encourage women for heavy “male jobs” but most of women preferred to work in different sectors of economy. With the help of that propaganda, the number of working women rapidly increased to 20 million between 1940 and 1944.
The increase was more than half of women who were working already. African American women was a big part of those women who most affected by the need of women workers. Maybe this propaganda did not aim its other consequences but the diversity between whites and blacks strongly recognized during that time and the process of equality in social life started because everybody were together for their country. Bandwagon was another aim of that propaganda. By using the posters of Rosie the Riveter, many women were quickly convinced that they had a duty to enter those works.
In that patriotic movement all over the country, women mostly wanted to be the part of that movement because they would not want to be called as a “traitor” or something indirect. Although women were in harder conditions than men, they did not quit. For example, the weekly payments of women were less than men’s. While men were paid $54. 65, women were paid about $50. After the war, USA continued using that propaganda because it was very successful. There was a documentary film named “The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter” in 1981 to keep the memory of “Rosie” fresh.
Many computer games, films and companies referred to this American icon to keep people’s interest. For instance, Hollywood actress Jane Withers were playing in a commercial TV series called “Comet” as “Josephine the Plumber”. The commercial started in the 1960s and end in 1970s. It was popular because the character was representing “Rosie”. Propaganda was very popular in the history, and it is still very popular. From media to politics, it is not avoidable to run into some tactics of propaganda in every economic business and political party. Every one or group has their own basics of propaganda.
The way of protecting yourself from the bad results of propaganda is asking questions and not believing whatever said. People may have different ideas and the acts of war are good example of that difference, sadly. While being respectful to other people’s ideas, you must be able to create your own perspective and believe it. You do not have to always have different or opposite ideas because your ideas can be also same as propagandists’. The fact that if you have no idea about what is going on, it becomes easier to be puppets of propagandists.