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Did Hitler and Jones Have Some Similarities?

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The Third Wave began as an experiment in the classroom of first-year history teacher Ron Jones to simulate fascism in World War II and demonstrate to skeptical students how the Nazi Party rose to power. Over five days, the movement took on a life of its own as it spread from the 30 sophomores in Jones' homeroom class to more than 200 students from all three high schools in the Palo Alto school district eager to pledge allegiance to a social movement that promised acceptance and reward to those who obediently followed its rigid rules.

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Presented as a mere ‘Welsh journalist’, Gareth Jones was not in fact anything like your average correspondent for the South Wales Echo. Jones was a well-educated Cambridge graduate, reputedly with family links to Ukraine, a multilingual onetime secretary to former British prime minister David Lloyd George

Strange, then, that he should be remembered merely as a newspaperman. Gareth Jones travelled to Soviet Ukraine and soon afterwards brought back a story of terrible suffering at the hands of Josef Stalin. Mr Jones was not in the USSR for very long, and in the Ukraine for even less. He was caught by Soviet authorities and thrown out, later travelling to Asia where he was found dead, supposedly killed by Chinese bandits. The new film from anticommunist Polish director Agnieszka Holland attempts to ‘bring to life’ the claims that Mr Jones travelled to Ukraine and witnessed first-hand a manmade famine there. Hunger he may well have seen, but who put the idea into his head (or into the director’s) that it was manmade, let alone that it was a genocide, as our anti-Soviet director declares (joined of course by the Guardian newspaper)? At the Internationale FilmFestpiele in Berlin, Ruptly news agency recorded Agnieszka Holland as stating: “Why Stalin is a hero for contemporary Russians? Don’t ask me. It shows an enslavement of the mind and soul. Stalin was one of the greatest murderers in the history of humanity … and he’s responsible for thousands of millions of lives.” You would think that being responsible for thousands of millions of deaths, Ms Holland might be able to depict just one factual event from real life in her film about the ‘forgotten hero’ Jones and the mass killer Stalin. Instead, in this excessive and ludicrous piece of anti-Stalin propaganda, the director portrays Mr Jones eating human flesh – a piece of fantasy so galling that it forced a relation of Mr Jones to write in to the Sunday Times to deny that his great-uncle had ever taken part in cannibalism and to admit that as far as the records show, he never even saw any bodies in Ukraine!

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Jack’s attitude towards Hitler is in keeping with the novel’s attitude, in general, about the modern world and its values. Everything in the novel has the capacity to be interpreted not only by the function it provides, but also by its function as a symbol of pop cultural values, as well as its capacity to comment on pop-cultural values, and its capacity for recursion: the novel’s commentary on pop culture’s obsession with itself as a subject for comment. The novel provides a non-stop stream of examples of this endless self-absorption such that it is futile to point to one of the novel’s descriptions and mark it as the prime example of this tendency. Other critics, including Baudrillard, have used DeLillo’s idea about the ‘Most Photographed Barn in America’ as a way of talking about White Noise and its satirical commentary on the fabricated nature of culture. The barn is photographed by present tourists precisely because it is the most photographed barn in America; its claim to fame is equivalent to the behavior that its fame invites. Murray Siskand, a character who acts as a kind of cultural shaman in the novel, views the barn as a touchstone artifact for the study of American culture and spirituality. He offers, “Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We’ve agreed to be part of a collective perception. This literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism” (DeLillo 12). Part of the tension between Murray Siskand and Jack Gladney in the novel is that the falsehood of culture, like that implied by the ‘Most Photographed Barn in America,’ is comfortable for Murray

For Jack it gives no comfort at all—he is dying in a world that is fake, but his death is real, and therefore, a source of terror. The novel explains first, that he will not shoot Mr. Gray because of the affair, then that he will shoot him, and finally that he will shoot him with “three bullets in the midsection for maximum visceral agony” in order to steal the drugs revealing a kind of narrative of vengeance placidly depicted by Jack who refuses to accept the significance of his wife’s adultery (DeLillo 309).

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Given these points, the mass suicide was an act of defiance to conform to the needs of society, after some temple members requested to leave. Jones started a war that made his people think that they were under attack, leading to their mass suicide, to prove their defiance to the way of the world, which included corruption. Since the congressman was a threat to their united community, they killed him, and his party. Knowing that they would be attacked, they opted to kill themselves than live without their community.

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Delillo, Don. White Noise. Elisabeth Sifton Books: Viking, 1984.

Derrida, Jaques. “No Apocalypse, Not Now (Full Speed Ahead, Seven Missiles, Seven Missives)”. Diacritics- Volume 14, number 2, Summer 1984, pp. 20-31.

Gurock, Jeffrey S. (ed.). American Jewish History, volume 6, parts 1-2: Anti-Semitism in America. New York, London: Routledge (1998).

Hellboy. Dir. Guillermo del Toro. Columbia Pictures, 2004.

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