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October 28, 2016

The American Way ~ When was America ever great?

Stronger Together. 

Make America Great Again. 

Are they serious?

Here's a photo from 1937 that is just as much real today as it was then.


During the Great Depression propaganda was used to raise spirits among the citizenry, like this billboard created by Arthur Rothstein in February 1937. In this case, the billboard is shown in Louisville, Kentucky, just after a massive flood ravaged the city. Seventy percent of Louisville was submerged under river flood waters, and it was almost entirely lower income, lower class neighbourhoods that were impacted.

The photograph was taken by the legendary Margaret Bourke-White for Life magazine. Her image shows people in line for aid, in front of the billboard. They are all African-Americans, bundled up in layers of clothing to protect against the cold. They are flood refugees and many are living with the knowledge that they have lost everything.

Rothstein's propaganda poster shows an ideal of the US that reveals the prevailing ideology of the time. A perfect nuclear family, complete with dog. What's good for General Motors is good for the US.

Bourke-White's photo suggests a huge disparity between the reality and the propaganda.

Has anything really changed since 1937? Is national greatness measured by how the wealthiest of a nation live, or by how that same society looks after its poorest citizens?

Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

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