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The First Neoconservative Propaganda:
A Review of The Steel Helmet

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The Steel Helmet
Directed by Samuel Fuller
Starring Gene Evans, Steve Brodie, James Edwards, & Richard Loo
1951

Samuel Fuller’s excellent movie The Steel Helmet (1951) was called “a Right-wing fantasy” by the Communist paper, The Daily Worker. The America First/anti-Communist Right called for, and got, an FBI investigation into its Jewish director, Samuel Fuller, after they saw the movie and disliked aspects of it. This 1951 movie about the Korean War is indeed unsettling for many. The unsettling aspects arise from something that was new in 1951, but only now can be fully understood; The Steel Helmet is the first work of neoconservative propaganda.

The movie’s excellence is due to a combination of its acting, directing, and writing. Fuller was a veteran of the US Infantry, and its star Gene Evans (playing Sergeant Zach) was also a veteran. The casting is superb; they appear exactly like actual US soldiers. Their mannerisms, body language, and so on really works.

It focuses on an infantry squad, although it is a bit more than a squad, as infantry squads don’t have officers or senior sergeants. (Technically, it is a detail that mans a permanent Observation Post.) By depicting a squad, one can also have vastly different characters, but not so many characters that one forgets who is who. The squad in The Steel Helmet has a conscientious objector, a quiet type, a runt, and men of several races. There is a Lieutenant and Sergeant First Class, so the dynamic between an experienced, working class NCO and a less experienced, but smart, middle class or upper middle class officer can be explored. In this case, the two men argue in a way that is not normal. (I dare a new Second Lieutenant to call a senior NCO a “fathead” in real life.) The pacing of the movie is good in that every bit of action or dialogue moves the story forward, and its foreshadowing works.

The narrative begins when Sergeant Zach climbs out of a ditch with his hands bound. He has a bullet hole in his helmet. He is the lone survivor of a group of American POWs who have been massacred by the North Koreans. The bullet intended to kill him punched a hole through his steel helmet, but only rumbled around harmlessly inside. His bindings are cut by a passing South Korean orphan, “Short Round.” As the pair start to walk back toward the American lines, Zach runs into Corporal Thompson, a black medic. They are both veterans of the Second World War from the 16th US Infantry, Thompson had joined the white regiment during the integration efforts at the end of the war, serving with the Transportation Corps’ famed truck convoy, the Red Ball Express. Corporal Thompson had likewise escaped another massacre.

The next character introduced is Sergeant Tanaka (Richard Loo). He arrives with a patrol of American soldiers led by Lieutenant Driscoll (Steve Brodie). Thus, the first three characters introduced after American hero, Sergeant Zach, are non-whites. Whites are portrayed in a semi-negative light. The white Radio Telephone Operator, Private “Baldy” (Richard Monahan), is depicted as naïve, and is later humiliated by Sergeant Tanaka, who plays a practical joke on him. Non-whites, such as “Short Round,” Corporal Thompson, and Sergeant Tanaka are shown to be noble and essential to success. For example, while Lieutenant Driscoll is competent, he also gets in a bind when a grenade he is carrying gets its pin pulled accidently, and is saved by Sergeant Tanaka.

Corporal Thompson is also shown to be competent, and indeed, there are many blacks like him in the military. When he is introduced, the other whites suspect that Corporal Thompson is a malingerer of some sort, but he proves them wrong. It is a subtle shot in the “War on Noticing”; during the Korean War, black troops were highly uneven, so much so that they were integrated into white units to dilute the problems posed by all-black regiments.

The patrol eventually occupies an Observation Post at a Buddhist temple, where they are attacked by a North Korean Major (Harold Fong). He stabs one of the Americans in the back and is eventually captured. While captured, he discusses America’s racial attitudes toward blacks with Corporal Thompson. He also reminds Sergeant Tanaka of the internment of Japanese during the Second World War, although both men resist his conversion attempts.

Eventually, the men on the OP discover a large North Korean attack force and direct artillery strikes against it. When the Communists realize there are Americans in the temple, they attack. The Americans resist heroically, and most are killed. In the world of Samuel Fuller, the different races and ideologies pulled together and successfully resisted Communism.

The Neoconservative Spin

Any war movie produced about a war while it is still going on should be considered a work of propaganda. Indeed, it is likely that all war movies are propaganda in some way. However, propaganda can go any number of ways. In The Steel Helmet, the propaganda is specifically neoconservative.

Neoconservativism is a Jewish-run movement that pursues Jewish interests. It endorses an aggressive American militarism, it is staunchly anti-Communist, and supports Israel above all other considerations (although Israel is not mentioned in The Steel Helmet.) Domestically, it is socially liberal, but its philosophy regarding the American people should really be called hostile unconcern. With that in mind, neoconservatism has the sense of a corporate raider, or a fly-by-night con artist. There is no consideration for the “moral health” of America, no concern for de-industrialization, falling wages, and so on. The neoconservative movement is at best ambivalent to Anglo-European Americans who volunteer for the US military, at worst they are hostile. Neoconservative support for importing angry people from the very nations who they demand America should bomb is one such example.

As a war develops, especially one such as the Cold War, coalitions form. These coalitions are aligned by temporary interests. Different peoples can unite against a common enemy, but when that enemy is gone, that coalition will inevitably collapse.

After the Cold War . . .

The global conflict with Communism created the current “Civil Rights” policy of race relations. “Civil Rights” was a domestic flanking operation that kept the Communists from stirring up too much trouble with blacks and other minorities in the United States. One can see this in The Steel Helmet. When being treated by Corporal Thompson, the North Korean POW mentions the outrage of blacks riding in “the back of the bus.” This demonstrates that the racial situation was very much in the public mind in 1951 – a full four years before the famed Montgomery Bus Boycott and its associated USSC cases, Browder v. Gayle and Sara Keys v. Carolina Coach Company, which ended any legal and private segregation.

In The Steel Helmet, the “injustice” of a safe space for blacks on public transportation is taken as a given. However, these restrictions were put in place because of black behavior. A Baltimore citizen wrote in 1913, “On this line respectable white people and white women especially, are subjected to every species of affront and insult, which they cannot resent without risk of being drawn into a dispute, in which no decent person cares to be involved. The Negroes realize this and it emboldens them still further.” Indeed, the situation in 1913 reads much like that of today. The Cold War is over and won, but public transportation has not recovered from desegregation. Black behavior on buses, subways, and other public conveyances remains quite dangerous. One can watch sucker punches, screaming matches, and shootouts on YouTube and the World Star Hip Hop Websites. If not for individual ownership of automobiles, there would already be a social revolution underway against blacks on public transportation.

Additionally, The Steel Helmet contributes to the sacralization of the Second World War. Sergeant Zach is critical to this. When Lieutenant Driscoll asks to switch helmets with Zach, the Sergeant refuses, claiming he will only switch steel helmets with an officer of the type he served with in the Second World War. There is also a sort of sacred recital of the story of the 16th US Infantry – North Africa, Italy, Normandy, and so on. However, the Second World War being rendered as a sacred crusade ignores the fact that British and French intervention in the Polish-German border dispute of 1939 killed millions and reduced Europe to ruins from one end of the continent to the other. Additionally, the story of the Second World War has compelled politicians to start wars earlier than necessary. It allows for bombs to fall on any new “Hitler” with very little thought to its consequences.

Sergeant Tanaka is portrayed as a loyal American, but this character too is problematic, and represents the hostility of the neoconservatives towards American whites as well as the limits of their thinking. Sergeant Tanaka is also tempted by the North Korean POW. When he brings up the Japanese internment camps, he insists that both he and Tanaka were discriminated against only for the “shape of their eyes.”

This, again, is neoconservative propaganda, and quite intellectually weak. Koreans have a burning and increasingly irrational hatred of the Japanese. No Korean would seek brotherhood with a Japanese over their shared epicanthic fold. It is true that Americans do have real conflicts of interests with Asians, and this leads to an impression of sameness between the two Oriental ethnic groups from that perspective. However, in actually dealing with a foreign people, it is important to be able to see things from their perspective. As shown in The Steel Helmet, neoconservatives simply can’t do that.[1]

Additionally, the story of Sergeant Tanaka reflects the ongoing disaster of Fourteenth Amendment “Americans.” The Japanese immigrants to the United States arrived due to a flaw in the first anti-Asian immigration restrictions. In the 1880s, the United States had excluded Chinese immigration due to the white-Asian tensions on the West Coast. However, the law didn’t exclude the Japanese, and thus the problems continued. When the Second World War began, the Japanese were suspected (rightly) of having sympathies with the Japanese war effort and were interred. Because the Americans won so decisively in the Pacific, the reality of the threat from Japanese immigrants was forgotten by 1951, and in The Steel Helmet we already see some references to the all-Japanese 442nd US Infantry Regiment, which served in Italy.

Again, the sacralization of a few Japanese veterans makes rational thought concerning the Japanese internment difficult to accomplish. Japanese internment was a good idea; indeed, it would have been better not to have raised the 442nd US Infantry regiment, and to have deported all the internees following the end of the war. Japan today is a thriving nation, so sending a person to such a place would not have been inhumane. In America, the former internees continue to exhibit ethnic hostility, and both George Takei and Norman Maneta have argued against restricting Islamic immigration despite the increasing problems stemming from such migrants.

The worst Fourteenth Amendment “American” situation is the one that is ongoing from the Middle East. The late terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki was an “American citizen” by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment. When he was killed in a drone strike ordered by the Obama Administration, other family members of his were killed as well – all “American citizens.” This situation has made for several frivolous lawsuits by libertarians and al-Awlaki’s family, making waging the War on Terror that much harder.

Indeed, there is a cruel irony to all of this. Had the United States government pursued American interests regarding Israel, cut the neoconservatives off from powerful positions, implemented immigration restrictions, not sacralized the Second World War, and limited the Fourteenth Amendment, there would be no War on Terror.

The Steel Helmet is indeed an enjoyable movie, but it is clear to see that even in the early 1950s, the philosophical underpinnings of America’s current problems involving diversity, anti-white animus, neoconservativism, and so on were already fully-formed; formed well enough to be packaged in a well-crafted war movie.

 

Note

1. As Steve Sailer pointed out: “When [the famed Palestinian intellectual Edward] Said was an adolescent, the new state of Israel expropriated a house in Jerusalem that had been owned by his extended family. The neoconservative magazine Commentary devoted much effort in the 1990s to proving that the building hadn’t been the property of Said’s father. Instead, Commentary triumphantly but anticlimactically trumpeted, the house had belonged to . . . his aunt. That Commentary article was a moment when I began to feel severe doubts about neoconservatism.”

 

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12 Comments

  1. R_Moreland
    Posted March 18, 2017 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I saw this on the Late, Late Show way back when. The Steel Helmet superficially is in the genre of the “Squad” movie: a bunch of disparate Americans get together in an infantry outfit and through the trial of battle become a single national force. In World War II, you might have had the WASP, the kid from Brooklyn, the Texican rancher and the Appalachian hardscrabble farmer. By the Korean War, the Squad got updated to include racial minorities. Perhaps there was a hope there that if the USA just rolled back a few segregation laws, it would be a stronger nation.

    But you have to ask, what what have happened if, back in the 1950s, Americans could see the future? That “civil rights” would turn into affirmative action, forced busing, suppression of genetic sciences, anti-White indoctrination in the schools and workplace, gangbangers and flashmobbers trashing cities, nonstop rioting in the streets (Watts to Ferguson), vandalization of Confederate monuments, communist inspired race hustlers beatified as national heroes, and the mass importation of Congolese under a black president?

    What if one were to make a movie in which the Squad goes into the future and emerges in the Detroit of 2011? Think of the 1950s B science fiction films where a (White) spaceship crew goes through the time barrier and lands on a future Earth which has been devastated by atomic war.

    Nonetheless, The Steel Helmet does point up a Cold War dilemma. In order to fight against communism, the USA had to pay at least lip service to ideals of equality. And there was the wider question of what constituted citizenship (i.e., was it national or civic?). It just may have been a grand strategic error to place the Cold War as a struggle of tyranny against abstract ideals of freedom. To give one example: US opposition to White rule in South Africa became inevitable on the grounds of “equality” and “majority rule.”

    What would have been the alternative? The Cold War might have been cast as a civilizational struggle of the Western world against all challengers, whether communist or third world. Instead of just “fighting communism” the long term goal would have been to build up White peoples into a dominant global force.

    Communism may have been defeated with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of a capitalist Red China. But the third world is, today, literally on the march as non-Whites flood into Europe and North America. Where is the Squad today which will rise to the defense of the White West?

    • R_Moreland
      Posted March 23, 2017 at 12:42 am | Permalink

      I’ll answer my own question. The Alt Right Squad has the veteran race realist, the kid from the meme wars, the metapolitical infighter, and the hardcore identitarian. And many more marching behind them.

  2. Ben
    Posted March 16, 2017 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Neoconservatism = Trotskyism

  3. Old Bullion
    Posted March 16, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    You want to watch a neo-conservative movie just have a go at The Magnificent Seven. Hoo boy!

    • Leon
      Posted March 18, 2017 at 2:05 am | Permalink

      The Magnificent Seven was neoconservative? How so?

      • Old Bullion
        Posted March 18, 2017 at 7:19 am | Permalink

        A bunch of White guys go down to fight in some Third World skank pit to defend the poor brown people from the local tyrant. Just watch the scene where they feed the village or the final scene with the dying Eli Wallach saying, “Why? For this little village? For no money?”. Or words to that that effect. Not to mention the scene where they all talk about what a waste their lives have been until now. Boy talk about virtue signaling! Just telling all us rednecks to join up and get out of America and go fight and die for the brown people of the world. And brought to you by producers Walter Mirisch and Lou Morheim.

        Here’s the virtue signaling scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyMtN_aHC_8&index=10&list=PLZbXA4lyCtqpH1lWYWX8R2VEBVOF9ZseW

        Here’s the final scene the part I mentioned starts at 1:45: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9-FR2MUfrU&index=12&list=PLZbXA4lyCtqpH1lWYWX8R2VEBVOF9ZseW

        When you watch the movie again just keep thinking of the message “Yes rednecks go abroad and fight and die for the dignity of the brown masses! Don’t stay and fight for the country that your White ancestors created! Leave it to US ! We’ve got shekels to make!!!”.

        • Leon
          Posted March 18, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

          Huh. I never thought of it that way. I guess it’s because I was always thinking of it as a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai, where the difference between the villagers and their protectors is one of class, as opposed to race. Now that you explain it, I see your point, but I still don’t think of it that way.

          • Leon
            Posted March 18, 2017 at 9:26 am | Permalink

            Also, while I agree that the promotion of White men sacrificing themselves for browns is unhealthy, I wouldn’t call it “neoconservative”. The whole ‘White saviour’ meme has been a common plot device seen colonial days.

            I also don’t see anything ‘signally’ about that scene. Just a sober reflection on trying to live as a lone wolf; no responsibilities or duties, but also nothing to live for.

          • Old Bullion
            Posted March 18, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

            “Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai, where the difference between the villagers and their protectors is one of class, as opposed to race. ”

            Well that’s because in The Seven Samurai both groups WERE the same race. Not to mention the same ethnicity. Tell me why do you think they put The Magnificent Seven in Mexico? Why not put it in Wyoming or Montana or even New Mexico? Because there were no range wars between small family ranches and the big land barons? LOL! Talk about a class conflict! Just look up Frank Canton, Tom Horn and Billy the Kid.

            ” The whole ‘White saviour’ meme has been a common plot device seen colonial days.”

            All ideologies have their roots in the past. Of course using our cultural traditions to propagandize against us NEVER happens in the movies or on TV! Right?

            “I also don’t see anything ‘signally’ about that scene. Just a sober reflection on trying to live as a lone wolf; no responsibilities or duties, but also nothing to live for.”

            So they soberly reflect on the spiritual sterility of being lone wolf gun thugs who have NOW found spiritual enrichment in…….LAYING DOWN THEIR LIVES FOR BROWN PEOPLE! But “I also don’t see anything ‘signally’ about that scene.” (((Walter))) and (((Lou))) appreciate the fact that you find their cultural heroin pleasurable. I was mainlining on the pop culture opiate for almost fifty years before I put the needle down and my mind finally cleared! I don’t know what else to do but tell you to put the needle down as well.

  4. James O'Meara
    Posted March 16, 2017 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Another great info-packed review from Mr. Robinson. Buses were certainly on the mind of the public back then. NYC’s black Mayor Dinkins used to virtue-signal by talking about how he fought in Korea but had to ride in the back of the bus when back home… while in reality NYC never having segregated buses.

    I have to add that I was delighted to see Steve Brodie’s name. I did not know this role of his, but also in 1951 he appeared in the American remake of M, which I reviewed here. In my review I note that

    ” Lt. Becker [24] is played by . . . Steve Brodie! Brodie’s career would sink into a black hole so deep that he would later “star” in not one but two MST3k favorites — The Giant Spider Invasion, and The Wild World of Batwoman, the latter being a leading contender for the worst movie ever made, or at least, the most cringe-worthy “comedy.”[25] But in 1951 Brodie was still doing OK for himself, with roles in noir classics like Out of the Past and Crossfire (both in 1947).”

    1951 was indeed a good year for him. He actually had the lead in the stage version of The Caine Mutiny, but by 1954 could only play a bit part in the movie. In 1957 he played a mirror-shaded highway cop on an episode of Alfred Hitchcock that clearly had the seeds of the similar confrontation in 1960’s Psycho.

    • Oleron
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      Do you know why Steve Brodie tanked, did he piss off the jews? Just curious!

  5. BroncoColorado
    Posted March 16, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    The neo-conservative program is open to all races and ethnic groups, all are welcome to fight and die for the triumph of Zionism. It is an equal opportunity scheme, and if more Whites get their heads blown off in the furtherance of causes dear to Jews then so much the better.
    I expect Fuller’s opposite number within the Soviet film industry during the Korean War was making similar movies with an appropriate “neo-revolutionary” message; a mixed platoon of Russians, Ukrainians, Balts, and a couple of Uzbeks or Tajiks thrown in for good measure. All eagerly awaiting orders to join the fight against ‘capitalist aggression’ in Korea.

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