only the insane have strength enough to prosper. only the prosperous truly judge what is sane.


Word War II Poster of the Week - 2

This week's poster was issued by the British Ministry of Health. Millions of people, mostly children, were evacuated from cities deemed to be at risk from attack by German bombers. The evacuation process was anything but smooth, and caused enormous upheaval.

As David Prest points out in a BBC article about the evacuations, many children suffered great hardships in the process of being relocated. Fear of German bombers led to the evacuations:

The fear of air attack from German bombers at the start of hostilities encouraged parents to send their children to safety. There were predictions of 4,000,000 civilian casualties in London alone, and, as early as 1922 - after the air threat from Zeppelins - Lord Balfour had spoken of 'unremitting bombardment of a kind that no other city has ever had to endure'.

The Government had stockpiled coffins, erected masses of barrage balloons and planned, at least in outline, for the mass evacuation of British cities before 1939. But it is now revealed that these plans were hopelessly flawed.

In the first place, the estimates of casualties were grossly over-exaggerated and the subsequent Government propaganda caused near panic rather than controlled movement.
There are several lessons to be learned from this, but I'll dwell on one in particular. A common thread I've seen running through many blogs these days (particularly Europhobia and other Britblogs, in the wake of 7/7) is that of the government and media overstating the threat. Are terrorist fanatics like Al Qaeda dangerous? Certainly, and to assume anything else is suicidally naive. However, the media prattles on endlessly about the danger, the imminent if there is anyone in London or New York who doesn't already have the thought in the back of their minds. The US government issues a travel warning for Americans visiting the UK, reminding us to "be vigilant". Why? What does that accomplish, other than create an atmosphere of distrust and fear? At best, it makes American tourists worry so much that they're afraid to take the Tube or ride a bus. At worst, it keeps them home--and damages all of the businesses that profit from their travel.

We are at war, of course. But we shouldn't panic. London suffered a terrible attack on 7/7, but look at the city today. Look at what remains untouched by Islamist terror-bombs. Stand wherever you are in London, turn in a complete circle, and note everything that remains untouched.
The Minneapolis Public Library has assembled a rather stunning collection of Second World War posters and other materials. It's worth a visit.


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