Propaganda has been utilized over the past hundred years to greatly affect the mind of the troops who fought in the world’s greatest wars and the civilians that sat at home relying on the information their governments supplied them about their nearest and dearest. While propaganda wasn’t invented for the world wars, it was put into greatest affect before during and after them.
An early example of propaganda is the images created by James Gillray. While this image on the surface seems relatively neutral, in fact is one of the many images drawn by the British to create the rumour that even now is regarded by many as true; that Napoleon was comically short. In truth, while Napoleon was only 5 foot 6″, that was a perfectly respectable height in the 1800’s in fact, he was taller than the average French-man of his age and indeed, taller than his British rival Nelson( who is not depicted in this image, the British man in this image is William Pitt).
Now this rumour is the perfect example of the strength of propaganda, that 200 years later, it is still common knowledge to many people that Napoleon was short, that these images could distort the minds of millions, and while this is a rather inconsequential use of it, is demeans and demoralizes its victim, which can be seen to be put to great use by Nazi Germany.
At first propaganda such as this was posted all over Germany questioning the ‘purity’ of Jews. On November 8th an exhibition entitled Der Ewige Jude (The Wandering Jew) attracting over 150,000 people in its short three day showing. It portrayed Jews as communists, swindlers and sex-fiends. Propaganda under Joseph Goebbels (1933-1939) was when the propaganda of Germany began its campaign against its enemies inside and outside of Germany, discrediting Jews, Romani, homosexuals, Bolsheviks and the countries that created the treaty of Versailles. This sort of propaganda was what slowly brainwashed Germany into the supporting of Adolf Hitler, and the creation of Nazi Germany.
But Nazi’s were not the only group of WWII to use propaganda to great effect. Possibly the most famous image ever created by America, Uncle Sam. I can almost guarantee that anyone over the age of thirteen in Britain or the USA knows this image.
It has been replicated thousands of times, depicted in our television, newspapers and posters. Any idea or image has reached its peak when it is displayed in an episode of the Simpsons. The fact that this image can be recognised by almost anyone even in 2012, shows that it met its requirements, thousands of Americans signed up for WWII and while i cant say that it was all because of Uncle Sam, you can bet that it had a massive effect on the young Americans that gave their lives for Justice.
Modern Propaganda is of course delivered to us in different methods, most prolifically through Social Media. The advertising space and free market for propaganda that the ‘Facebook Feed’ offers is unending. Its hard to believe that in these days and times that the kind of propaganda that can be found online makes its way into what many would use of their main source of online interaction with friends and family that are easier to reach electronically.
Images such as this display the stupidity and ignorance that still exists in many parts of the world, and I am ashamed to say, have seen crop up on my very own Facebook Feed with totally seriously, posted by a group that very quickly ‘Unliked’ . While this example does not show extreme hate the falsities that it instantly applies to all atheists is unacceptable by today’s standards. I myself am atheist and while Its completely true that I am ‘very grumpy and bitter’ this cannot be said of all atheists and neither can it be said that I have ever lashed out and tried to trick Christian children into ‘neglecting god’s word.
This is where propaganda as a whole falls down, it can say many things, or very few but in all circumstances where it involves a certain group or religion or lack of, it projects feelings and actions onto everyone who calls themselves an atheist or a theist. While personally I find this sort of image disgusting and archaic, its almost certain that they will always be delivered to us in some manner, and social media seems to be the most effective in this day and age.