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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.

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