John-Boy Walton and the Fight Against Fascism

Donald Trump recently tweeted that ANTIFA has now been classified as a terrorist organisation. Considering the fact that ANTIFA isn’t actually an organisation and just a word used to describe the community of people who oppose fascism, it’s very concerning news. I suppose it would be the equivalent of making feminism a terrorist organisation.

On a more positive note, I was recently watching what is, perhaps, the best episode of The Waltons: The Firestorm. Why am I mentioning this? It’s because it’s an episode which deals with fascism. In fact, it’s more than that: it’s an episode which shows just how fascism could begin to arise within the United States.

In the episode, as he grows concerned about Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, John-Boy plans to write an article about Mein Kampf – printing excerpts from it to highlight how concerning it is. However, the local church group takes an interest in his idea and opposes it as they believe that printing the excerpts is just spreading Hitler’s word. The reverend then openly condemns John-Boy and his article during a sermon.

The response from the local people… is to start acting like Nazis. They’re pretty ignorant about what’s going on in Germany, so to their minds, it’s just a case of Hitler = bad, without being aware of realities of his fascist regime and the systematic oppression of the people there taking place.

So what happens to John-Boy? Local hooligans break into his car and toss all his copies of his newspaper out onto the street, he arrives just in time to stop him and they run off shouting “Seig Heil!” over and over again. All of his customers, who usually buy advertising in his newspaper, turn him down as, due his newfound bad reputation and they don’t want to be associated with it. Someone tosses a stone through the window of his house and he finds that the stone has a swastika on it. Even his friends and family start to turn against him… a situation similar to that of someone who might have spoken out against Hitler.

The anti-fascist message of the episode is very clear and it holds a warning too: when fear and ignorance run rampant, fascism can happen anywhere even in a country like America. This idea, today, would be considered controversial and even offensive to some, but it’s very true and it was ingeniously expressed in this episode. On a much larger scale, you can see how fascist views are beginning to spread through the country and that’s not because people like fascism (they don’t even realise what it is) but because misinformation has made them ignorant and afraid.

What’s ironic, is that The Waltons are considered an archetype of the all-American family, yet the views expressed on the show are more and more at odds with the vision for the country created by Donald Trump. President George Bush Sr. once said that America should be a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the Simpsons, but they should certainly be a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Trumps. In the conclusion of the episode, a burning of German books is arranged and John-Boy makes them realise they’re burning a Bible among them, just like Nazis do, causing them to realise they’ve become the thing they’re most afraid of. Let’s hope the John-Boys of the real world can help people come to this same conclusion.

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