On Monday, I introduced my sophomore history students to one of the experiences that characterized Nazi Germany. Discipline.... To experience the power of discipline, I invited, no I commanded the class to exercise and use a new seating posture.... It was strange how quickly the students took to this uniform code of behavior I began to wonder just how far they could be pushed.
As the class period was ending and without forethought I created a class salute. It was for class members only. To make the salute you brought your right hand up toward the right shoulder in a curled position.... You would be walking down the hall when all of a sudden three classmates would turn your way each flashing a quick salute. In the library or in gym students would be seen giving this strange hand jive.
I decided to issue membership cards to every student that wanted to continue what I now called the experiment. Not a single student elected to leave the room. In this the third day of activity there were forty-three students in the class. Thirteen students had cut class to be a part of the experiment. While the class sat at attention I gave each person a card. I marked three of the cards with a red X and informed the recipients that they had a special assignment to report any students not complying to class rules.
I won't give away how the experiment ends - read the article to find out - but suffice it to say that it well illustrates the appeal of the fascist mentality. As Solzhenitsyn put it: "If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being."