Charlottesville’s white nationalist march by the far right was a reminder for the United States of the fascist movements that fuelled the second World War. In response, a sequence (above) from a short anti-fascist propaganda film made by the US War Department in 1943 has gone viral.
The clip from the original 17-minute film, Don’t be a Sucker, shows a man standing on a street on a soapbox, addressing a crowd with a speech that echoes the views of far-right supremacists like the Ku Klux Klan, or members of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville: “What’s going to become of us real Americans? I tell you friends, we’ll never be able to call this country our own until it’s a country without. Without what? Without negroes (sic). Without alien foreigners...These are your enemies. These are the people who are trying to take over our country...Fight them and destroy them before they destroy us.”
A wise man watching from the sidelines interjects, “I’ve heard this kind of talk before, but I never expected to hear it in America.” He explains to a young American man who looks confused about the speech: “I have seen what this kind of talk can do. I saw it in Berlin. I heard the same words we have heard today but I was a fool then. I thought Nazis were crazy people, stupid fanatics. But unfortunately it was not so. You see, they knew that they were not strong enough to conquer a unified country, so they split Germany into small groups. They used prejudice as a practical weapon to cripple the nation.”
The original film (below) depicts the rise of Nazism in Germany, making the point, “Let’s not think about ‘we’ and ‘they’. Let’s think about ‘us’!”
Anthropologist and researcher Michael Oman-Reagan, who originally shared the clip on Twitter, compared the soapbox orator’s rhetoric to that of US President Donald Trump. His tweet has seen a huge response online.
Meanwhile, Trump’s second response to the incident showed was finally somewhat forthright.