So, continuing this week's investigation into the overlap between PD and propaganda, I'm linking to this fabulous online exhibit (courtesy of the U.S. National Archives) called Powers of Persuasion.
Most of these posters targeted a domestic audience, but they contain a lot of information about U.S. attitudes toward other countries--particularly the Axis powers. The objective of the posters was to increase public support for the war abroad, and the selected images demonstrate different tactics the government employed--including promoting interracial unity, inciting emotional responses and using humor or symbolism.
From the exhibit: "The Government tried to identify the most effective poster style. One government-commissioned study concluded that the best posters were those that made a direct , emotional appeal and presented realistic pictures in photographic detail. The study found that symbolic or humorous posters attracted less attention, made a less favorable impression, and did not inspire enthusiasm. Nevertheless, many symbolic and humorous posters were judged to be outstanding in national poster competitions during the war."
The Rockwell "Four Freedoms" posters were inspired by a Franklin Roosevelt speech on the same topic, a masterful peace of public diplomacy unto itself, as it addressed domestic and international audiences, contrasting the values of the United States with the power struggle ambitions of the Axis countries.
Of course, the Yankee propaganda machine had an extremely effective Nazi counterpart. (Check out this website for an extensive listing of Nazi propaganda tactics.) The image shown here looks kind of like an advertisement for repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but is actually emphasizing the solidarity of both soldiers and workers.
The use of propaganda by the Nazis and the Soviets, as well as a general belief by the U.S. public that the benefit of our national values should be self-evident (and not, therefore, in need of hard sell tactics) partly explains legislative aversion to funding anything that smacks of propagandistic influence--particularly when it has a domestic focus.