american history multiple questions

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Question 1 Japanese interment

At the beginning of US entry into World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt—echoing Woodrow Wilson—argued that America must enter the War to protect freedom. Yet, in January 1942, thousands of Japanese Americans were rounded up and ordered into internment camps for the duration of the War. Why were American citizens put into camps?

Why did Fred Korematsu resist internment and risk arrest? Koretmatsu’s case ended up at the Supreme Court where the majority (8-1) ruled in favor of the Roosevelt government regarding internment of American citizens. What was the argument against internment by Justice Jackson, the lone justice who defended Korematsu and Japanese Americans?

Question 2 What is Communism

Throughout much of the Twentieth Century and especially during the Cold War, Americans developed a deep fear of communism. But why communism? What is it? Was America’s fear of communism the result of an accurate understanding of Soviet communism? Or more the result of the Cold War effort by the US government to contain and stop its spread around the world? What part did Edward Bernays play in the government’s strategy to convince Americans to fear communism?

Question 3 Coups and Overthrows of Democratically-Elected Governments

Two parts discussion. 1) Containment; and 2) Coups and Assassinations.

During the Cold War, US foreign policy changed. Prior to World War II, America generally had an “isolationist” policy whereby the US avoided getting entangled in foreign conflicts or the internal affairs of foreign governments (although there were exceptions to that policy regarding Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Panama, Mexico, etc.). But during and after World War II the US had permanently cast aside its isolationism in favor of a policy of “containment,” specifically containing the spread of Communism wherever it appeared around the world.

Why did the US government consider it necessary to stop the spread of Communism?

2) Coups and Assassinations

The US had several means by which it tried to stop Communism. Based on the Marshall Plan, it used funding, either through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the World Bank, to support poor, underdeveloped countries build infrastructure (hospitals, schools, roads, bridges, etc.) and to support local currencies. In doing so, poor countries who cooperated with the US and its allies often had to commit to fighting Communism, corruption, balancing their budgets, allowing for foreign (i.e., American) investment, etc.

However, if countries were not cooperative, the US would use other means: coups, assassinations, occupations, and proxy wars to contain the spread of Communism.

How did the use of CIA-backed coups in countries such as Iran, Guatemala, Brazil, Chile, etc. reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of the spread of Communism? In other words, what did overthrowing a socialist, but democratically-elected government in Guatemala have to do with the Soviet Union?

Question 4 The Civil Rights Movement

During the 1940s and early 1950s, the Civil Rights mostly focussed on legal challenges to segregation. Right here in Orange County, a case called Menendez v. Westminster challenged segregation in public schools at the state level and laid the groundwork for the Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. But, everything changed with the murder of Emmet Till. The Civil Rights Movement became more activist. Martin Luther King, Jr. emerged as an important leader, effectively challenging legal segregation through civil disobedience and mass protest. In the South, the CRM was successful at bringing to the attention of all Americans the need to end explicit segregation in the US South and culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But when the movement went to the Northern states, where segregation and discrimination were not as explicit, the movement stalled.

Martin Luther King’s strategy of peaceful nonviolent protest was effective in the South. But why was it not as effective in the North. What criticism did organizations like Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) or later Malcolm X have for King’s nonviolent movement? What did they propose instead?

Question 5 Counterculture and Protest

The Beat Generation was a literary movement in the 1950s, which was not overtly political. Nonetheless, what sets of attitudes or values of the Beats influenced the later counterculture of the 1960s?

The counterculture of the 1960s was roughly divided into two parts or phases: 1) political activism of students, antiwar protesters, etc.; and 2) the “flower power” or the “hippie” movement. How were the two related? What did they have in common? How did they differ politically? How did the hippie movement undermine the earlier political activism?

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