Pearl Harbor Rhetorical Analysis

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Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbour in early December 1941, the American people were hesitant about joining World War II. However the attack which impacted the nation directly, ignited a desire for revenge on the Japanese. The attack sent the country into a panic, and the American government were not at all pleased with the unprovoked surprise attack. Thus, the use of racial stereotyping and dehumanising the Japanese, representing them as rats, became prominent during World War II. The American government used the attack on Pearl Harbour to demonise the Japanese in various different ways, creating a common hatred for their enemy nationwide.

The surprise attack on Pearl Harbour, December 7th 1941, killed over 2300 Americans. The attack by
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Thus in an attempt to defeat the Japanese, the government developed distinct racial stereotypes of their enemy. Propaganda was published across the country, a key example of this being the cartoon ‘Popeye: Scrap the Japs’ . The audience, American people during World War II, see the Japanese to be portrayed with buckteeth and thick glasses (2:32). This typical characterization of the Japanese was extremely common. The cartoon also directly refers to the yellow peril of their Asian enemy, ‘I’ve never seen a Jap that wasn’t yeller’ (4:20). The use of racial discriminations by the government attempted to change the people of America’s perception on the Japanese, ultimately controlling how everyone thinks and feels. The American government thrived on the idea of dehumanizing the Japanese, the buckteeth and small, slanted eyes acting as animalistic features. The propaganda reveals the tension and fear of the conflict between the two countries. By instilling fear into the people of America, it prompted the whole nation to hate the…show more content…
This was a significant feature in American propaganda, ‘Jap Trap’ , where a Japanese troop is portrayed as a rat. The rat, as well as having stereotypical racist features such as buckteeth and thick glasses, is emphasized on the poster, with the viewer’s eyes being drawn directly to it. In the propaganda cartoon, ‘Popeye: Scrap the Japs’4, the Japanese are also represented as rats (5:52). All the Japanese troops are seen as rats in a cage, being pulled by Popeye, clearly showing this portrayal of Japanese as rats. Giving animalistic features to the enemy made it easier to kill them. It dehumanised them, and made people feel as if they were just killing mass numbers of animals. The American government were driven, and by dehumanising their enemy, it gave them a much greater chance at winning the
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