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Archive for March 11th, 2014

America’s war policy a reflection of WWII movies and their unrealistic vision of war’s motivations, consequences

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My Depression-born parents raised me in a rural idyll during the Eisenhower years. As a child, I snuck into the Garden Theater to watch war movies. They enthralled me: Battle Cry, To Hell and Back, Away All Boats, D-Day the Sixth of June, The Wings of Eagles, Battle of the Coral Sea, and my favorites, the submarine movies: Run Silent Run Deep, The Enemy Below, and Up Periscope. I revered Steve McQueen in The Great Escape and John Wayne in Operation Pacific and The Flying Leathernecks. Later, I learned mediated definitions of traitorous betrayal in Guns of Navarone and Where Eagles Dare.

I liked those flicks. The good guys always won. The good guys were honorable and noble; the bad guys — usually Teutonic or Asian in appearance and demeanor — were nasty and evil. Those movies inculcated in me the patriotic notions that much of personal and national honor lay in defense of an American definition of freedom, of the sanctity of my homeland, of democracy rooted in American exceptionalism. That I was learning to instinctively fear and loathe any enemy — especially one labeled the Other — escaped my notice.

War, these movies taught me, is entered reluctantly and only after due, transparent discussion by the nation’s leaders. But as a child eating popcorn and tossing Jujubes from the balcony of the theater, I learned nothing about the imposition of freedom, of democracy, of American values on those who hold different values and beliefs and refuse to adopt what America “offers.”

In junior high I voraciously read about the means and materials of war — books on ships, airplanes, and rockets. Achievement of manhood and romantic notions of adventure attached to my understanding of war.

So much of childhood play was embedded with the heroic roles and noble motives of war I and my pals learned in those World War II movies. We reinforced those roles and motives, fighting among ourselves with snow forts and snowballs in winter and games of capture the flag in the woods in summer. Children learned an Americanized image of conflict early but rarely its eventual cost.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

March 11, 2014 at 8:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized