Beginning in 1943, the War Department published a series of pamphlets for U.S. Army personnel in the European theater of World War II. Titled Army Talks, the series was designed “to help [the personnel] become better-informed men and women and therefore better soldiers.”
Within a matter of a few years of the publication of "FASCISM!" the authors were under investigation by the resurgent Republican right as "communist agents". It happened right in front of everyone and he only ones who recognized it were silenced by the threat of being called "communists" and having their lives destroyed. We call it "McCarthyism" and think it died with him, but it didn't, and now it's so strong we live in fear of it taking formal power next year.
Wow. Thank you, Heather, for once again using our own history to write such a poignant message. I hope every American reads it. They really must.
New College of Florida (and the K-12 Sarasota Public Schools) are really a ground zero laboratory for seeing how fascism can play out within our country today - including how people rally to fight it! When I was a student at New College ('89-'94), I got bit by several bugs - the critical inquiry bug, the Aikido bug, and briefly the theater bug. Then, much more recently, on January 31, 2023, I got bit by the "it's time to fight the fascists" bug. Apparently it's going around - many alumns, students, faculty, parents of students/alums, and community members also caught it at the same time. I am so appreciative of this particular letter because it promises to help others get bit by the "it's time to fight the fascists" bug.
Not sure it's the right time for you? Consider watching this incredible, ~10 minute, address by Ukranian Vladimir Zelinskyy to the graduating class at Hopkins where I am a professor in the School of Education. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCjhy0tmyzI
I was very moved by the speech and the deep reminder of how important it is that we use our time well today to protect tomorrow.
If you are in the market for a shorter clip - this one was provided to the New College graduates during the alternative graduation that they raised funds for and hosted so that they could have a celebration On their Own Terms. The alternative graduation was a fabulous mix of serious and fun. This particular clip captures part of the very serious issues at play - and it is a great pairing with Heather's post on fascism:
Still want more information? This preliminary report by a special committee of the AAUP is worth a close read for those who want to understand more deeply what specifically has happened at New College and how it is connected with legislative actions that are taking away freedoms and fundamentally rewriting the relationship between public goods and private pockets.
Time to stay informed and engaged before we lose the opportunity to do either.
Fascism is here! It exists in the GOP-controlled states and exists in the Federalist Society-bought SCOTUS decisions!
I hope that even today, this pamphlet is a required lesson for all the US Armed Forces, at least in digital format. What’s more, it should be taught in schools. It is one of the best and most succinct definitions of fascism I have read!
I heartedly applaud the president's viewpoint. Having the knowledge and experiences learned/gained in 80 some years can not be overlooked. I say this as an 86-year-old man. So, bring it on... I for one will do what I can, which I fear isn't much, to keep the fires lit by Biden burning.
Now about the War Department pamphlet, the true meaning of such words as fascism, communism and even religion is not fully known by the majority. This booklet brought to us by HCR is valuable and should be shared in every school, newspaper or any other media outlet. Thank you, Heather.
Living in a school for emotionally disturbed children on campus of The University of Chicago in 1955, I was given The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank by a survivor of Dachau and Buchenwald.. The School was The Orthogenic School. Its director was Bruno Bettelheim. He was the co-author of Dynamics of Prejudice with Morris Janowitz, required reading of senior staff American forces by General Dwight David Eisenhower... five star general and head of SHAPE that came before NATO.
I slept in The School from Monday, January 9th, 1950 to June 26, 1956. I later worked there and was asked to run The School more than once.
My parents took the family to a dude ranch the summer of 1955... and I joined for a few weeks. I was an excellent rider. The Bar JD was in Cody, Wyoming. I met Gigi Pearson at that ranch... she was my age... attending Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut. Her father was advertising director at Mademoiselle Magazine. They lived on the North Shore of Long Island. She asked me to escort her to the Cotillion Dances in New York City - that Fall. I asked my mother if I could learn to dance and get the clothing needed. She wrote me that I would learn to dance at Arthur Murray’s and that DePinna’s would dress me. Her letter had a PS: Sandy, you will be able to attend these dances, but your father would not be welcome... I asked Dr. B, as he was called: what is she talking about? He educated me. He said, your mother is telling you that your father is Jewish and you are not. I was a baptized Episcopalian, her religion, not my father’s religion. I was confused. What is Jewish, I asked. He was astonished. He knew our family story. In rebellion against her prejudiced German Lutheran mother, my mother had married three Jews, my father was number three. She married the first in seven days in Florida, and that marriage lasted 4 years. Monroe Hess was a family friend, a left handed golfer with a wealthy mother. I asked about the dances. Dr. B explained Restricted. Jews were not welcome. I called Gigi Person at a pay phone at Miss Porters to explain, saying that I would not attend dances where my dad might not be welcome. I offered alternatives, live music at the top of the RCA building and elsewhere... She said she would respond to my invitation - I never heard from her again.
In Wall Street, my second firm was White Weld & Company. In my first week I learned that the firm had held a partners’ meeting to decide if they would offer a permanent job to Mildred Bergman, a part-time secretary that was Jewish. She is 95 today.
Morgan Stanley might have had one Jewish partner at that point, but I doubt it.
We lived in Short Hills, New Jersey. Peter Hager, general partner of Goldman, Sachs asked if I would like to join the Short Hills Club as an Episcopalian. I passed. Never heard from him again.
William E. Simon, then a Salomon Brothers & Hutzler general partner, later Treasury Secretary, asked if we might join Beacon Hill in Summit, saying he was board member, and we would be admitted. When we were blackballed, Bill and Carol Simon resigned with their 7 children, and he asked if we would like to take crack at Morris County. I passed...
Fascism is sweeping the planet - and the United States. The Republicans are now fascist, plain as day.
When I am around antisemites, I am Jewish. When I am surrounded by UJA Zionists that reject me, I am Christain. My wife’s mother was born Jewish. Her father was Nobel James Franck. He fingered Hitler as a menace in 1933 and fled to form the Manhattan Project for Roosevelt with Enrico Ferme.
In truth, we do not bother with established institutions. We find them exclusion based like the country clubs and many neighborhoods.
Fred Trump’s rental units were marked RESTRICTED.
The ultra Jews of Israel are fascist in their approach to civil liberties.
Good Arab citizens of Israel are worried about their country - and they love living there as citizens.
This should be sent to every American. At least all the Democratic Representatives and Senators should send it to all their constituents.
If any Republicans read this sobering letter, the experience will feel like gazing into a mirror and seeing who they really are. Of course many already know they're fascists but would never admit it publicly. Trump's bizarre ramblings today checked all the boxes. DeSantis? I'm surprised he didn't give the Nazi salute when during a Fox News interview he pledged to destroy "leftism" in two terms as president.
Wow! Right on time! Exactly the definition we all need to read and learn so that we can share our thoughts and especially the history of WWII educational pamphlets informing our armed forces of what this word ‘fascism” actually means... how fascism is ‘created’ ...
always thank you for enlightening all of your readers... I will make copies of this particular Letter from an American ti give to folks along my path.
Sinclair Lewis in 1935 wrote “It Can’t Happen Here” envisioning the successful rise of a Hitler analog in the US and the descent into authoritarian rule and military coups. With little effort it could be updated as a bitter parody of our contemporary predicament.
THIS kind of history documentation is why I am a subscriber. I wish I could get everyone I know to subscribe. Or at least READ when I share....
THANK YOU, Heather!
To overcome evil, humor can be powerful. Here's the 1942 Looney Tunes cartoon that ridicules facism: "The Ducktators" - Spoiler - "Hitler" duckling emerges from the egg with a "Sieg Heil!" https://forgottenfiles.substack.com/p/the-ducktators-1942
I'd never heard of these pamphlets before. Though written during world War Two , they are so relevant to stuff going on today !
The point is… the Republican Party led by Trump, McConnell and McCarthy is a Fascist party. We have our very own fascism here. Fascist are authoritarians; Trump thinks he is a god. We fought and defeated them in World War II; we must defeat them at home. Our democracy depends upon it.
Thanks so much. Great column. Can copies of the Army’s publication be re-printed and dropped over GOP areas?