The BEST Squirrel is the Dead Squirrel — 1918 propaganda points.
War just doesn’t get any more unconventional than this. This bizarre and one-sided battle has just been profiled at some length in Pajamas Media. It did tie in to the WWI war effort, by arguing that the bushy-tailed rats devastated farm production and threatened the economy and war effort. The attack on several species of California ground squirrels, in what was then a predominantly rural, agrarian state in a similarly rural, agrarian country, produced its own propaganda:
Here’s a taste of the article.
“Kill the Squirrel” cartoons, essentially propaganda, were also created depicting squirrels as German soldiers wearing spiked helmets and iron crosses. The father squirrel wore a upturned mustache, much like Kaiser Wilhelm’s. The Four-Minute-Men, volunteers who delivered four-minute speeches to garner support for the war efforts, had talking points designed to convince ranchers and farmers to kill the “little ally of Kaiser.” They included:
- The BEST squirrel is the dead squirrel.
- The Hotel California board bill for ground squirrels in 1917 […] was $30,000,000—yet unpaid.
- The squirrel does not recognize daylight saving. He uses it all.
- He preys on our crops in countless hordes. He fills the ranks of the killed in true military fashion.
- Why hesitate? We can get ‘em. How? Poison ‘em, gas ‘em, drown em’, shoot ‘em, trap ‘em, submarine ‘em.
- Are you not willing then to give your whole-hearted support to this state-wide movement to KILL THE SQUIRREL?
By the end of Squirrel Week, children had handed in over 104,509 tails, marking the effort as a huge success.
You Californians probably didn’t know this about your squirrel-cidal ancestors. A propaganda flyer also instructed readers on squirrel characteristics and behavior, and advised them to stop killing natural squirrel predators, such as snakes and raptors, in order to enlist Nature’s red fang and claw in the Squirrelcaust.
We do recommend you Read The Whole Thing™. The propaganda is reminiscent of some of the mobilizations or campaigns of totalitarian nations, such as Nazi Germany or Red China.