Yesterday I saw a history article in my inbox. The article was from a popular and influential American magazine with a long history. The article’s title seemed preposterous to me. Its obvious intent was to criticize how America communicated during World War II. The title called some of America’s communication during the war “shocking propaganda.” The subtitle accused America of using propaganda to influence “even its enemies.”
According to Merriam Webster, propaganda spreads ideas and information in order to help or injure an institution, a cause, or a person. I say, “Of course, the U.S. used propaganda to influence its enemies during World War II.” Americans didn’t start the war. We were trying to end it. We didn’t invade Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Yugoslavia, and Greece. We were trying to free those countries from Nazi domination and keep the Nazis from taking over Great Britain, the United States, and the rest of the world. Of course, America spread ideas and information in order to injure Nazi Germany. What else could we do?
Some of what the article called “shocking propaganda” referred to posters, similar to this one, that encouraged Americans to be careful that they didn’t say things that might aid their enemies.
I was confident that facts in the article would not support the title’s bold claim, and they didn’t. The only thing the article mentioned the U.S. doing that was dishonest was dropping bags of mail containing fake newspapers into Germany. Lying is wrong, but I hardly consider that act of propaganda “shocking.” The trouble is that I assume most people who saw the title of the article did not read the article. That means that the magazine likely succeeded in making many question the intent of patriotic Americans who served well and sacrificially during World War II. That makes me sad.
After I read the article, I emailed Ray a link with this comment: I don’t like the implication that Americans were wrong to do these things. I say, “Yippee! Hooray for the USA!” Can we please stop undermining our brave history?
Ray then read the article and replied to me: Amen! (Later Ray and I discussed it more and realized that we couldn’t approve of the lying through the fake newspapers.)
Certainly, America has a history of good deeds and bad deeds. That is true of the generation of Americans who lived through World War II, both at home and in Europe and the Pacific, the generation that journalist and writer Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation.”
If our heroes can only be people who never did anything wrong, then no human being other than Jesus can be a hero. Only Jesus is the perfect, heroic Son of God. However, the Bible does praise mere mortals, mere mortals who performed good deeds and bad ones. In Hebrews 11, God reminded readers of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Sarah, Gideon, Samson, and David. Even though the Bible tells us about the failings of each one of these people, Hebrews 11 portrays them in heroic terms. In chapter 12, God calls them “a great cloud of witnesses.”
We can appreciate the good that someone does while rejecting the bad. That is called discernment.
Our children need people to respect, people to honor, people to look up to. Perhaps Americans praised their heroes too much in the past. Now the trend is to tear them down. Because we are all sinners, the truth is somewhere in between.
One of the immigrants in the play “America!” which I wrote about yesterday, had been in America 36 years when National Park Service interviewers heard his story. This man had come to America from Iraq and later joined the staff of the Ellis Island immigration station. I don’t know what his concerns about America were at the time of his interview, but I love how he handled those concerns. He said:
Don’t lie. Don’t lie because the lie is the product of the devil and we don’t need the devil and demons in America. We need the truth and that truth will make us free. America, the great, America the strong, America the beautiful, what happened to you? Please come back. We want to see the America for which we left our country and where we intended to live a better life. Please, America, don’t spoil our life here. America, I love. I wish the whole world could be like the America that I love. America, don’t spoil your reputation because there are many immigrants who love you really, who will do their best for you and we want to be proud of you. It doesn’t mean we are not loving our countries, our old countries. No, no, we love them. We wish our old country, our native country, to be like the America that we know, America the beautiful.
God had reasons for telling us both the good and the bad about people in the Bible. Wouldn’t it be terrible if we only knew the good they did? How could we ever live up to their examples then?
Again, I am confident that God is using homeschooling to bless America. Thank you for homeschooling and for praying. The passage from yesterday’s post applies again to this one.
First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers,
intercession, and thanksgiving
be made in behalf of all people,
for kings and all who are in authority,
so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life
in all godliness and dignity.
1 Timothy 2:1-2