nationalism/patriotism

I found most these images at Photo Basement, but all were originally posted at The November Coalition’s Random History of Alcohol Prohibition page.

“Good for the engine, but not for the engineer. Good for commercial purposes, but not as a beverage.”

The white man’s burden isn’t infantile non-whites in need of oversight, it’s saloons.

Connecting drinking alcohol with nationalism and the downfall of America.

Again, being anti-alcohol is patriotic.

Do you love drink more than you love your children? Or America?

But we see many of the same themes in the anti-Prohibition campaign:

So now if you love your kids and want them (and, implicitly, America) to be secure, you’ll repeal Prohibition.

“Protect our youth. Stamp out Prohibition. Love our children.”

At first I wasn’t sure if this was pro- or anti-Prohibition (asking people to vote to repeal it, or to overturn the repeal). But according to this history of Prohibition, Democrats came out with a “wet” (anti-Prohibition) platform as a way of drawing “ethnic” (i.e., European immigrant) and working class votes. So the message here is that we need to protect our children (and wives?) from the hordes of gangsters and bootleggers who emerged because of Prohibition, and their way to do this is to vote Democratic.

Thanks for the tip, Miguel!

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.

Pro- and anti-natal policies are those that encourage and discourage childbearing respectively.  There’s an excellent article in the New York Times today about pro-natal efforts in Europe.  The population is falling there due to a low birth rate.

One of the things they mentioned in the article was the Third Reich “Mother’s Cross” (I found this one here).  Women who had four children were awarded a bronze medal, women who had six a silver, and women who had eight a gold. (This was a eugenic strategy, of course; an effort to increase the birthrate for pure, white people.) 

I think one of the most fascinating things about this medal is not so much the pro-natal, or even eugenic story, but the explicit linking of military service with motherhood.  There are plenty of good arguments to make that being a mother is a service to the nation just like military service.  After all, as is recognized in Europe, if women stop having babies, eventually there will be no nation at all.  Also, being a mother involves sacrificing yourself, taking time out of the labor force and, indeed, risking your life and health.  (Ann Crittenden makes this argument in The Price of Motherhood.)  Of course, in the U.S. we don’t value motherhood the way we value military service.   And, sigh, we are awarded no medals for bringing new human beings into existence.  We do, however, have pro-natalist policy.  The fact that we get a tax write-off for every child we have is a direct economic incentive to reproduce. 

Spotted on consumerist.com

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask ‘Can I get this shoe in a size seven?'”

Marc sent in this image (found here):

According to this site, the photo was taken by Margaret Bourke-White; this site, where you can buy old issues of LIFE magazine, lists the photo in the index for the February 15, 1937, issue. Apparently the people standing in line were flood victims.

This is a great image for sparking discussion about “the American Way” and what that was meant to be (clearly white and presumably middle-class, from the mural), and the ways in which non-whites (and poor whites) are often invisible in depictions of what America is. And, of course, it could be a great image for a discussion of rhetoric and propaganda (for instance, murals proclaiming how wonderful the standard of living is even though the Great Depression was by no means over).

Thanks, Marc!

This is the iconic photo of Tommie Smith and John Carlos (found here) from the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. They raised their arms, wearing black gloves, in a symbol of protest against racism in the U.S. Less often noticed is that they were wearing beads to symbolize victims of lynching and went barefoot to protest the fact that the U.S. still had such extreme poverty that some people went without basics, such as sufficient clothing. Peter Norman, the Australian 2nd-place winner, grabbed a button produced by the Olympic Project for Human Rights (see below) when he found out what the other two were going to do and wore it in solidarity (if you look closely you can see that all three are wearing matching white buttons).


The reaction was immediate and negative. Carlos and Smith were stripped of their medals, ejected from the Olympic Village, and returned to the U.S. to widespread anger. In David Zirin’s book What’s My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States (2005, Chicago: Haymarket Books), several black athletes discuss the difficulties they faced as a result of their actions. This 2003 interview with Tommie Smith covers some of the same issues.

Below is a button like the ones they were wearing. Much like we often think Rosa Parks spontaneously decided not to give up her seat on the bus (ignoring the fact that she attended training with other African Americans determined to protest inequality in the South), the assumption is often that Smith’s and Carlos’s gesture was something they decided on at the moment. In fact the Olympic Project for Human Rights, organized by Black U.S. athletes, had tried to organize an athletes’ boycott of the 1968 Olympics. When that was unsuccessful, tactics switched to making statements at the Olympics. This was part of an organized plan on the part of a number of Black athletes who were tired of representing the U.S. but being expected to stay silent about racism in the U.S.

Some of these buttons are for sale ($300 each!) on Tommie Smith’s website.

A t-shirt with the cover of the July 15, 1968, issue of Newsweek about “the angry black athlete.”
I looked for a photo of the cover itself but could not find one online. Clearly the nation was anxious about the attitudes of Black athletes even before the Olympics (in October) caused such a stir.

I think these images are useful in a couple of ways. I use them to undermine the idea of the individualistic protester and to bring attention to the ways Civil Rights activists organized and planned their actions. It could also be useful for discussions of politics in sports–the ways in which athletes have at times used their position to bring attention to social inequality, as well as the repercussions they may face for doing so. It might also be interesting to ask why this image caused so much furor, and how the Olympics is constructed as this non-political arena for international cooperation (a topic I cover in my Soc of Sports course). You might compare the image from the 1968 Olympics to this image (found here) from the 1936 Olympics in Germany:

Here we also see the Olympics being used to make a political statement, but in this case the athlete was not thrown out of the Olympic Village or stripped of his medals. What is the difference? Just that time had passed and attitudes toward political statements at the Olympics changed? In the 1936 pose, the athlete was showing pride in and support for his country, whereas Smith and Carlos meant their gesture as a protest of conditions in the U.S.–thus shaming their nation in an international arena (this was a major cause of the anger they faced when they returned to the U.S.–the idea that they were airing the nation’s “dirty laundry,” so to speak, for others to see). Could that be part of the difference in the reaction?

Of course, a cynical person might argue that these seemingly ungrateful, misbehaving black athletes who refused to smile and play along were being publicly punished in the media for getting “uppity” (in a time period where white Americans were also wearying of minorities’ continued demands for equality and social change).

This Absolut vodka ad (found here), which ran in Mexico, has caused quite the stir here in the U.S., since it implies than in a perfect world much of the U.S. would still be part of Mexico. A number of groups in the U.S. are boycotting Absolut. This is one of those cases where an ad aimed at once audience (Mexicans) is noticed by another audience it was never meant for.

Similarly, though I could be wrong, I bet most straight male Miller Light drinkers aren’t aware of these ads and wouldn’t be thrilled with them.

While we’re on the topic of the current presidential campaign…

I’ve noticed something interesting about the images and phrases used to criticize Clinton and Obama. Why does the majority of anti-Clinton rhetoric use sexist images and language? And how prevelant is the (expected?) matching racism in the anti-Obama rhetoric and images? Why, instead, does Obama’s national allegiance and patriotism come into question? I think this would make for a great class discussion on intersectionality, an what prejudices are perceived to be “socially acceptable.”

Some possible questions for discussion:

  • Is it more socially acceptable to be overtly sexist than overtly racist? Why?
  • Why might it seem to be more okay to question someone’s patriotism/nationalism than to be overtly racist? What is the difference?
  • What is really racist that doesn’t immediately appear racist?

And the images– again these come from Facebook groups with tens of thousands of members. See also previous images of Hillary Clinton here and here.

“I found my voice”:

“Stop mad cow”:

“Fly, my pretties, fly!  Bring me the presidency”:

And now for Obama…

And here are some attacking Barack Obama’s nationality and patriotism:

And the infamous image (more info from snopes.com):

 

This is a really interesting comparative analysis of the Kerry and Bush logos from the most recent presidential election. Notice how gender and class operate in the design and analysis.

Richard also pointed me to this slide show, also from the New York Times, commenting on logos for the candidates in the current primaries.