Skip to main content

Semantic Warfare

February 2024
1min read

In his column about the phrase freedom fries (“History Now: Why Do We Say That?,” June/July 2003), Hugh Rawson writes, “There was less of this semantic tomfoolery in World War II.” I heg to differ.

In World War II the song “The Japanese Sandman” vanished, as did the operetta The Mikado and the “Mr. Moto” stories and movies. A type of freight locomotive called the Mikado was renamed the MacArthur. In Washington, D.C., the Japanese cherry trees were considered a problem, and someone tried to eliminate the problem with an ax. The matter was addressed by referring to the trees as Oriental cherry trees for the duration of the war.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.