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Americans Suffer When Careless Talk Kills!

During World War II, many posters were created to alert the public to the dangers of careless talk: information about war production or troop movements could fall into the wrong hands and endanger the war effort. In reality, most people didn’t have information that would help Hitler, and there were not vast spy networks with enemy agents eavesdropping at every soda fountain. The broader purpose was to stop the spread of negative rumors, which could very well undermine the war effort by reducing military production, eroding morale at home, and promoting divisions between Americans.

Now we are faced with a similar situation. Careless talk in the form of misinformation could literally cost lives. Propagating inaccurate medical information about COVID-19 could actually help to spread this disease and result in more deaths. We have many more sources of information today than in the 1940s. It’s up to each one of us to think critically about the information we see and evaluate whether it’s accurate, especially before passing it on to others. Only look to qualified sources of medical information like public health departments, research universities, medical schools, CDC, and WHO. As we learn more about the disease, information will change. What we thought was true a month ago may not be the most accurate information today, so take into account the timing of the information, too.

As during World War II, this is the time we need people to come together to fight a common enemy, one that does not discriminate. But there are entities who do not want to see that happen. They want to sow discord and divisiveness among Americans. And they have been very effective. Who are they? Maybe foreign governments, radical groups, or even individuals. Why, I don’t know. But they do not value the American ideals of freedom and democracy. They don’t see a difference between Republicans and Democrats, Red and Blue. To them, we are all Americans and just an enemy to be destroyed. Their best weapon is to make us do that ourselves. And to make us think we are not all the same with with the same basic ideals.

Why play into their hands? Why do their dirty work for them? I challenge everyone on every level of the political spectrum to refrain from posting and sharing divisive rhetoric. What purpose does it serve? Is it helping anything at all? Ask yourself who created the message and why? Is it even true? How do you know? Are you being manipulated into sharing something that hurts Americans?

Imagine if the Nazis had access to social media. You can be sure that Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels would have leveraged it to pit us against each other. Maybe it would have cost us the war. Don’t let it cost us this war.

WWII poster image courtesy of Illinois Digital Archives

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