Watch the Post-WWII Short Film Warning Americans about Neo-Nazis

The newest viral video is from... 1947?

A still from the War Department's "Don't Be a Sucker" educational video.

Imagine a world where Nazis were just in the streets. Where violence shocked society to its core. A place where the specter of racial bigotry and demagoguery was ever present. Where the US military is fighting with an army that discriminates not on merit, but on social policy.


No this wasn’t 2017, it was 1947. 

Against this background, the War Department re-released an educational film entitled Don’t Be A Sucker, first produced in 1943. It tells of the dangers of racism and fascism, and for reasons that must be all too obvious, the short film has struck a chord with viewers today. 

The film begins with the most 1940s-sounding narrator possible explaining that some people are suckers. They buy into what is clearly a racket because it looks like a good deal. He takes us from these suckers to a typical American man listening to a racist speaker, attacking every minority in the book. The listener is fine with it, until his minority group is mentioned as a menace. Then, and only then, does he reject it.

Seeing this, a Hungarian professor and immigrant to the United States tells him of how the Nazi Party came to power in Germany. Turning the population against minority groups and any other group that could oppose them, burning facts that were inconvenient and declaring the truth according to the Party to be the only real news. This series of events lead to the deaths of millions of suckers who bought the Nazi Party’s promises, and tens of millions of their scapegoats.

The film gives a happy ending, but warns us that it can happen here. It needn’t though, says the Hungarian professor, we are all minorities in some way if we live in America, and we all need to stand up for our minority rights. Otherwise, we’ll be the suckers.  

Why is it so popular now?

The film has been shared on social media hundreds of thousands of times in the last few days.

With the recent march to Unite the Right and the resultant deaths, spiking numbers of anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic acts of vandalism, and an increasing selection of fake news sources, the world of today shows more than a passing resemblance to the world of the 1930s. The number of hate groups in the United States is increasing rapidly, and the far right is better organized than ever.

Uhh, about that happy ending….

While the video shows us the horrible effects of race baiting and fascism, it does also show us why people buy into them, and suggests a solution. The Germans who agreed to the Nazi’s platform don’t start by hating the Jews, they started by wanting a better life and were suckered into thinking that religious and ethnic minorities stood in their way.

The film suggests that we can all take some action to prevent the horrible events of the 1930s in Germany at the individual level. “It started here,” the professor says, referring to a park with a Nazi speaker. He encourages us to end it there. He reminds us that people are taught hatred, that they were unable to see through the lies of the fascists, and how easy it is to be drawn into a soothsaying conman.

But, with even a little dedication, we can prevent the horrors of history.

 

A still from the film "We Became Fragments" by Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller, part of the Global Oneness Project library.

Photo: Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller / Global Oneness Project
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
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  • Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
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It looks like a busy hurricane season ahead. Probably.

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  • Before the hurricane season even started in 2020, Arthur and Bertha had already blown through, and Cristobal may be brewing right now.
  • Weather forecasters see signs of a rough season ahead, with just a couple of reasons why maybe not.
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Welcome to Hurricane Season 2020. 2020, of course, scoffs at this calendric event much as it has everything else that's normal — meteorologists have already used up the year's A and B storm names before we even got here. And while early storms don't necessarily mean a bruising season ahead, forecasters expect an active season this year. Maybe storms will blow away the murder hornets and 13-year locusts we had planned.

NOAA expects a busy season

According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, an agency of the National Weather Service, there's a 60 percent chance that we're embarking upon a season with more storms than normal. There does, however, remain a 30 percent it'll be normal. Better than usual? Unlikely: Just a 10 percent chance.

Where a normal hurricane season has an average of 12 named storms, 6 of which become hurricanes and 3 of which are major hurricanes, the Climate Prediction Center reckons we're on track for 13 to 29 storms, 6 to 10 of which will become hurricanes, and 3 to 6 of these will be category 3, 4, or 5, packing winds of 111 mph or higher.

What has forecasters concerned are two factors in particular.

This year's El Niño ("Little Boy") looks to be more of a La Niña ("Little Girl"). The two conditions are part of what's called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, which describes temperature fluctuations between the ocean and atmosphere in the east-central Equatorial Pacific. With an El Niño, waters in the Pacific are unusually warm, whereas a La Niña means unusually cool waters. NOAA says that an El Niño can suppress hurricane formation in the Atlantic, and this year that mitigating effect is unlikely to be present.

Second, current conditions in the Atlantic and Caribbean suggest a fertile hurricane environment:

  • The ocean there is warmer than usual.
  • There's reduced vertical wind shear.
  • Atlantic tropical trade winds are weak.
  • There have been strong West African monsoons this year.

Here's NOAA's video laying out their forecast:

But wait.

ArsTechnica spoke to hurricane scientist Phil Klotzbach, who agrees generally with NOAA, saying, "All in all, signs are certainly pointing towards an active season." Still, he notes a couple of signals that contradict that worrying outlook.

First off, Klotzbach notes that the surest sign of a rough hurricane season is when its earliest storms form in the deep tropics south of 25°N and east of the Lesser Antilles. "When you get storm formations here prior to June 1, it's typically a harbinger of an extremely active season." Fortunately, this year's hurricanes Arthur and Bertha, as well as the maybe-imminent Cristobal, formed outside this region. So there's that.

Second, Klotzbach notes that the correlation between early storm activity and a season's number of storms and intensities, is actually slightly negative. So while statistical connections aren't strongly predictive, there's at least some reason to think these early storms may augur an easy season ahead.

Image source: NOAA

Batten down the hatches early

If 2020's taught us anything, it's how to juggle multiple crises at once, and layering an active hurricane season on top of SARS-CoV-2 — not to mention everything else — poses a special challenge. Warns Treasury Secretary Wilbur Ross, "As Americans focus their attention on a safe and healthy reopening of our country, it remains critically important that we also remember to make the necessary preparations for the upcoming hurricane season." If, as many medical experts expect, we're forced back into quarantine by additional coronavirus waves, the oceanic waves slamming against our shores will best be met by storm preparations put in place in a less last-minute fashion than usual.

Ross adds, "Just as in years past, NOAA experts will stay ahead of developing hurricanes and tropical storms and provide the forecasts and warnings we depend on to stay safe."

Let's hope this, at least, can be counted on in this crazy year.

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