The U.S. War Department produced the aptly titled Don't Be A Sucker! in 1943, and released a shorter version after World War II. Now, the film seems to have found a new audience in the wake of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that erupted in violence when a Nazi sympathizer plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens more.
The film opens with "Mike," whom the narrator refers to as someone who lives among the "free people."
"Mike's got something, all right," the narrator says. "He's got America, but there are guys who stay up nights figuring out how to take that away from him."
The next scene shows an incensed orator ranting about the kind of people taking over America:
"We'll never be able to call this country our own until it's a country without. Without what? Without negroes. Without alien foreigners. Without Catholics. Without Freemasons ... these are your enemies. These are the people who are trying to take over our country. Now you know them. Now you know what they stand for, and it's up to you and me to fight them. Fight them and destroy them before they destroy us!"
The rhetoric of populism and xenophobia the film tried to dismantle isn't much different from what neo-Nazis and white supremacists are demonstrating in 2017.
Such a wonderful video. Horrendously depressing that it remains relevant.— Ellie Louson (@elouson) August 15, 2017
White supremacists celebrated Trump's remarks exonerating them for the violence that erupted in Charlottesville. They praised Trump when he "outright refused to disavow" the rally.
In Don't Be A Sucker, a man watching the angry speaker comments, "I've heard this kind of talk before. But I've never expected to hear it in America."
Seventy years later, the dialogue has resurfaced ... and we're not in a movie.