I have found myself listening to a nearly constant stream of episodes from the Behind the Bastards podcast. Any space that isn’t otherwise occupied by another more pressing podcast. I would like to say that the events discussed in the podcast are somewhat exaggerated, but the few that I’ve followed up on to fact check seem more or less correct. In the broad strokes, at least.
There are a few things with which I’m already familiar, but many of them I’ve never heard of, or only know in bits and pieces. One of the ones I’d never heard of was the Third Wave “experiment” in 1967. An extremely unfortunate but effective lesson on how easily fascism can take root. The podcast episode is here, if you’d prefer, and there are some good references in the show notes.
The general story is that a history teacher was having a hard time explaining why fascist movements like the Nazis weren’t stopped from within when they got out of control. He attempted to display how easy it was by radically altering his lesson plan for a week, and it quickly created a miniature fascist movement of 200 or so students. Both horrifying and impressive at the same time. Also not exactly ethical or a mentally healthy environment.
I find it curious that I’d never heard or read about it before. Perhaps it is simply one of those uncomfortable truths that we don’t wish to see. I may make an effort to check out some other material about these events in the future. It’s entirely possible that I’m simply in the wrong age group in much the same way my own children will never remember 9/11 or Columbine quite the way I do.
When I began listening to the podcast I was a bit concerned that it would darken my overall outlook on humanity. Listening to stories about evil people can do that. Fortunately that doesn’t seem to have happened. I wouldn’t exactly say that I’m optimistic, I am in fact quite cynical, but there’s nothing to do for it but try to be better. I’d rather fail trying than do nothing.
Y’all take care. Don’t accidentally create any fascist movements while trying to show how easy it can be.