The United States was never immune to fascism. Not then, not now | The Guardian – Opinion |

America is currently experiencing a wave of increasingly aggressive far-right and neo-fascist activism. Observers have routinely considered fascism an ideology alien to American society. Yet it has deeper roots in American history than most of us have been willing to acknowledge.

Consider the interwar period. The crisis years of the 1920s and 1930s not only gave rise to fascist movements across Europe – a moment captured in Ernst Nolte’s classic The Three Faces of Fascism – but around the globe. The United States was no exception.

Across the country, fascist and proto-fascist groups sprang up. The most prominent among them was the paramilitary Silver Shirts movement, founded by William Dudley Pelley, a radical journalist from Massachusetts, in 1933.

Obsessed with fantasies about a Jewish-Communist world conspiracy and fears about an African American corruption of American culture, its followers promoted racism, extreme nationalism, violence and the ideal of an aggressive masculinity. They competed against various other militant fringe groups, from the Khaki Shirt movement, which aimed to build a paramilitary force of army veterans to stage a coup, to the paramilitary Black Legion, feared for its assassinations, bombings and acts of arson.

Even bigger was Fritz Julius Kuhn’s German-American Bund, founded in 1936. Its members considered themselves patriotic Americans. At their meetings the American flag stood beside the Swastika banner. At a rally at Madison Square Garden in New York on 20 February 1939, a crowd of 20,000 listened to Kuhn attacking President Franklin D Roosevelt, referring to him as “Frank D Rosenfeld” and calling his New Deal a “Jew Deal”.

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More than a decade ago, the historian Robert Paxton, well versed in the long history of fascism and neo-fascism in America, warned in his important book The Anatomy of Fascism about the “catastrophic setbacks and polarization” which “the United States would have to suffer” if “these fringe groups” were “to find powerful allies and enter the mainstream” of American politics.

His words may turn out to be prophetic.

Continued below the fold …

Why an Anti-Fascist Short Film Is Going Viral | The Atlantic |

How should Americans fight against a resurgent white-nationalist movement in the United States? This weekend, they returned to an artifact from an earlier era of anti-Nazism. Tens of thousands of people rediscovered–and promptly shared and retweeted–a clip from Don’t Be a Sucker, a short propaganda film made by the U.S. War Department in 1943.

When it first debuted, Don’t Be a Sucker would have played in movie theaters. Now it has made its 21st-century premiere thanks to a network of smaller screens and the Internet Archive. Almost 75 years after it was first shown, Don’t Be a Sucker lives again as a public object in a new and strange context.

Like The House I Live In, this film warns that Americans will lose their country if they let themselves be turned into “suckers” by the forces of fanaticism and hatred. This thesis is rendered more powerful by the ever-present example of Nazi Germany, whose capsule history is dramatized as part of this film. There’s a great deal of good sense in this film and more than a bit of wartime populism: “Let’s not think about ‘we’ and ‘they.’ Let’s think about ‘us’!”]

[This film was digitized and uploaded on behalf of the Prelinger Archives]

Nazi Summer Camp – Long Island, U.S.A.

Camp Siegfried was shut down by the US government when Germany declared war on the United States. It had been protected by the 1st Amendment until that time, when it became illegal for US citizens to swear allegiance to Germany.

Founded in 1935, it was operated by the German American Bund, an American Nazi organization that was previously known as “Friends of New Germany” and was devoted to promoting a favorable view of Nazi Germany.

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The land of the campsite in Yaphank, New York, was owned by the German-American settlement League, an organization which still operates as a private community today.

The summer camp taught Nazi ideology but claimed to show its loyalty to America by displaying the flag of the United States at the camp entrance alongside a Nazi swastika and declared that George Washington was the “first Fascist” who did not believe democracy would work.  

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Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen Gesellschaft

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