Why an Anti-Fascist Propaganda Film From the 1940s Went Viral in 2017

In the 1940s many Americans got their news while sitting inside movie theaters, waiting for the feature film to begin. And also in the 1940s, the U.S. government wasn’t shy to engage in overt political propaganda. Call it what you will, but the United States War Department released a film in 1943 called Don’t Be A Sucker that warned against the rise of fascism in America. A short clip from the 17-minute film went viral over the weekend following the terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The excerpt opens with a middle-aged white man yelling to an assemblage in a park, “I see negroes holding jobs that belong to me and you. Now I ask you, if we allow this thing to go on, what’s going to happen to us real Americans?”

Sound familiar?

The rest of the short clip is also shockingly relevant. One of the characters, an older man from Europe, describes to a younger man born in America how racism came to rise overseas.

“I was born in Hungary, but now I am an American citizen. And I have seen what this kind of talk can do—I saw it in Berlin. I was a professor at the university. I heard the same words we have heard today. But I was a fool then,” he says. “I thought Nazis were crazy people, stupid fanatics. Unfortunately it was not so. They knew 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.”

Here’s the short clip that went viral over the weekend:

Watch the full film above and seriously, don’t be a sucker.

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