President Donald Trump should probably watch this 1940’s PSA/propaganda video for some pointers on disavowing Nazism and/or White Nationalism.
After the White Nationalist/Nazi protests in Charlottesville this weekend (and the various events that transpired from it), you would have thought the president of the US would denounce such actions. Instead we got this:
Of course, what President Trump should have said – in no unequivocal terms – that Nazism/White Nationalism and the hate that it brings has no place in America, but instead we got that lame response, followed by a message that finally renounced white supremacy and racism that was 48-hours too late. While it’s a safe bet that President Trump won’t grasp the importance of why people should condemn such acts of bigotry and hatred, traditionally that wasn’t always the case.
In the 1940’s, US theaters would have these PSA shorts before movies. Think instead of trailers, theaters instead would show PSAs that centered around everything from auto safety to terribly sexist take of hiring women. One of those short films from 1947, funded by the US government, was an anti-Nazi propaganda film called Don’t Be a Sucker.
As you can imagine, it’s in that 1940’s Father-Knows-Best-style that PSAs of that era are known for. But even with the healthy amount of cheese, it hits on a very important point that President Trump had missed during the weekend; that denunciation of hate speech matters!
Even within the film, they talk about how Nazism is dangerous if not spoken-up against it. Even back in the 1940’s (!!!), this movie understood letting this kind of language go unabated would be problematic, because language matters. For the Trump administration – more so for President Donald Trump – language is viewed differently.
Whether it’s threats to North Korea or getting upset over CEOs leaving the president’s manufacturing council, language for President Trump (and his administration) is not everlasting; it’s digestible for as long as the 24-hour news cycle allows it. While that policy makes for great eye-catching tweets or popular soundbites, we saw the limits of that last Saturday. For what should have been a slam-dunk for any presidential administration, President Trump frankly screw it up. And then today, this happened!
So if you’re looking for the Trump administration to denounce the events in Charlottesville, you shouldn’t hold your breath. After all, not everyone can have the same evolved sensibilities as a 1940’s PSA.
(Photo Credit: YouTube)