Divide & Conquer: Precursors to Fascist Movements

Canary. Photo by 4028mdk09.

In a part 2 sequel to TNB’s Morning Canary, Welcome 2019 – Don’t let the nationalists steal patriotism – and things to remember as we navigate this next year, we take a look at identifying potential pitfalls that are as old as time: To divide and conquer.

This 1940s U.S. War Department film is a warning to Americans that political rhetoric condemning minorities and foreigners is a precursor to fascist movements like Nazism.

Don’t Be a Sucker” was produced by the U.S. Signal Corps and distributed by Paramount Pictures for viewing in civilian movie theaters in 1943 and again in 1947.

An analysis published in the Public Opinion Quarterly in 1951 notes that the character charged with supplying historical context in the film (see full video below) is a foreign refugee who recalls Germany’s descent into totalitarianism under the Nazis.

Although it is dated and appears to modern eyes relatively simplistic in style and presentation, the film’s message remains relevant. Hate groups still operate by trying to divide and conquer.

“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.”

Snopes [Cooper, Eunice and Dinerman, Helen. “Analysis of the Film ‘Don’t Be a Sucker’: A Study in Communication.” The Public Opinion Quarterly. Summer 1951, pp. 243-264.]

Did this make for uncomfortable viewing? Did it come off as a bit of hyperbole? But is it?

YouTube influencers purposefully radicalizing their viewers from mainstream conservative content to white supremacist content, and the recent viral Non-Playable-Character meme, a common video game trope, which states outright that those who oppose the right aren’t human beings but non-playable characters who deserve abuse.

She says at the end, “Americans need to send a message to all the above institutions: Violence from the far-right and those who enable it will no longer be tolerated.”

But how will it no longer “be tolerated”? And while the knee-jerk reaction to those on the right who are tolerating it, will their first automatic answer be to her statement a self-fulfilling prophesy and validation to them insofar as, “See, they just want to shut people up who do not agree with them”?

Which came first? The chick or the egg?

What about Jesse Kelly (TNB), Federalist contributor and radio personality now stationed in Houston, Texas, the “Marine Corps combat veteran and former congressional candidate in Arizona” who uses his Vet status to tell his readers and audience to envision scalping not some hostile foreign evaders, but Americans who are not “God-fearing conservatives?”

Close your eyes and imagine holding someone’s scalp in your hands. I don’t mean cradling his skull as you thousand-yard-stare at his lifeless face. I mean a real scalp, Indian-style, of some enemy you just killed on the battlefield; somebody you hated and who hated you back.

You killed him, won the day, carved off the top of his skull, and now you’re standing over him victorious on the now-quiet field of battle, with a quiet breeze blowing through your hair. Your adrenaline is still pumping with that primal feeling of victory and the elation of having survived when others didn’t.

What about Tucker Carlson here?

“Study after study,” he says, without any proof of one study, let alone “study after study.” Women, he says, who earn more income than men “don’t want to marry those men, but they should want to marry them, but they don’t,” therefore, he concludes, “this causes a big drop in marriage, a spike in out-of-wedlock births, and all the familiar disasters that inevitably follow: more drug and alcohol abuse, higher incarceration rates, fewer families formed for the next generation.”

Then he gives it away. “This is not propaganda. This is not speculation from the Evangelicals.” “It’s social science,” he says. “We know it’s true.”

Remember when Congressman Steve King (R-IA) referred to immigrants as ‘dirt’, but he denied it? There were tapes.

Here is King’s reaction to Americans protesting in Portland against Trump’s and his administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies.

Portland’s mayor Ted Wheeler made the decision to let them peacefully protest. Steve King’s decision is to call for “heading in the direction of another Harpers Ferry,” then, “comes Ft. Sumter.”

What about Gavin McInnes and his derogatory and inflammatory hate against women or debasement of black people and his connections to VDARE – an anti-immigration website who gives a platform to white supremacists? Or Jason Kessler? What about Richard Spencer who called for the establishment of a “white ethno-state” in North American? “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” he says. What about David Duke? What about Steve Bannon? Stephen Miller?

Is it any wonder these people come to their conclusions when these self-identified, so-called “Alt-right” “New Right” really do use their platforms to spew messages of divide and conquer? Something to think about.

Something else to think about: Where are you standing in that 1943 film crowd if the man on the corner is telling you we have to get rid of the “Negro” and the “foreigners” because they are taking your jobs?

h/t to EX-GOPJohnt✓Fᵉᵈᵉʳᵃˡ ᶦˢᵗ

“Those then, who resist a confirmation of public order, are the true Artificers of monarchy—not that this is the intention of the generality of them. Yet it would not be difficult to lay the finger upon some of their party who may justly be suspected. When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanour—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.” ― Alexander Hamilton

Stay aware, and stay tuned. We’ll keep an eye on this.

On October 29, The News Blender’s AlienMotives brought us the story that Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil.

Some of Jair Bolsonaro’s viewpoints have been considered extreme.  They have been covered in prior TNB articles. Rather than back away from his positions, he has doubled down.

“His democratic credentials are constantly questioned, also a first in presidential elections since Collor. A week ago, he publicly said that his adversaries should be arrested or exiled, while a video where his son Eduardo said it was easy to close the Supreme Court went viral.”

As argued by Foreign Policy, it was not simply the nationalists who voted for Jair.  A combination of rampant crime, high unemployment and the failure of socialist economic policies, and propaganda spread by social media bolstered him, as did the open corruption of a main opponent, Lula, who ran his campaign from his prison cell.

The News Blender

Jair Bolsonaro sworn into office on Tuesday, January 1st.

The Associated Press reported “Newly installed President Jair Bolsonaro targeted Brazil’s indigenous groups, descendants of slaves and the LGBT community with executive orders in the first hours of his administration, moving quickly after a campaign in which the far-right leader said he would radically overhaul many aspects of life in Latin America’s largest nation.”

Bolsonaro, a fan of U.S. President Donald Trump, met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss joint efforts regarding the leftist administrations in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Pompeo told him that Trump is “very pleased with the relationship that our two countries are on the precipice of beginning to develop.”

“He’s also confident that it (the relationship between the U.S. and Brazil) will benefit the world and the set of shared values that we believe we can together advance,” Pompeo said before leaving Brasilia for Colombia.

Associated Press

The Rio Times reported, “Let’s unite the people, value the family, respect the religions and our Judeo-Christian tradition, fighting the gender ideology, rescuing our values. Brazil will become a country free of ideological ties,” said Bolsonaro during his speech.”

The Guardian: Hours after taking office, Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, has launched an assault on environmental and Amazon protections with an executive order transferring the regulation and creation of new indigenous reserves to the agriculture ministry – which is controlled by the powerful agribusiness lobby.

Stay tuned. There will be more to come on Jair Bolsonaro.

For further TNB reading on fascist movements on the rise:

Hungary Denies Food to Asylum Seekers

Italy Threatens EU Over Migrants

EU Moves to Strip Hungary’s Member Voting Rights

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