“In this country, we have no ‘other people.’ We are American people.”
The internet’s latest viral video is actually more than 70 years old — and as relevant as ever.
In 1947, the U.S. War Department (which later became the Department of Defense) released this 17-minute short film, “Don’t Be a Sucker,” into theaters around the country. Still reeling from the recent end of World War II, the military put together a video with a strong message about fighting the spread of fascism in America.
The film found a new, modern audience when Michael Oman-Reagan tweeted a portion of it to his nearly 25,000 followers after a crowd of torch-wielding white supremacists marched on Charlottesville, Virginia.
The film parallels our current political reality in an eerie way, highlighting the dangers of letting the loudest voices divide us.
The clip starts with a man atop a soapbox, shouting, “I see Negros 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?”
“I tell you, friends, we’ll never be able to call this country our own until it’s a country without … Negros, without alien foreigners, without Catholics, without Freemasons.”
Up to that point, a man standing in the crowd was nodding along to the soapbox bellower, even remarking, “This fella seems to know what he’s talking about.” But once he realizes that he falls into one of the man’s banned categories (he notes that he’s a Freemason), he quickly changes his tune.
From there, another man, a Hungarian-born professor, steps in to deliver the story’s moral.
“I have seen what this kind of talk can do. I saw it in Berlin,” he remarks. “I heard the same words we have heard today.”
“But I was a fool then,” he says before delivering the kicker: “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.”
Extremist groups rise to power by taking aim at different demographics. It’s happening today, but we can fight back.
Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, if you don’t stand on the side of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, or the so-called “alt-right,” you have something very important in common. It’s in no one’s long-term interest for these groups to succeed in setting us against one another and continuing their rise to power — no one’s except their own.
Maybe you voted for Donald Trump in November, or maybe you didn’t. Maybe you agree with the policies he’s laid out, or maybe you’re involved in the resistance. In the end, however, we probably all share a number of goals, even if we disagree on how to achieve them. Those goals are almost certainly not shared by white supremacists, and that’s why it’s important that we all take a stand against this hate.
Just because you or I aren’t their targets now doesn’t mean the same will be true a year from now, 10 years from now. There are people who need our support right now, and it’s for the sake of the country as we know it.
You can watch the full video below or at the Internet Archive.