No, I’m not blogging about Geico commercials today. BTW, my favorite Geico commercial is this one: “Is a bird in the hand worth two in the bush?” It cracks me up every time.
But I digress. Last night, Steve Cohen, a Democratic Congressman from Tennessee, invoked the Holocaust to attack Republicans on the Health Care bill; he compared Republican arguments to “the big lies” told by Germany’s Propaganda Minister, Josef Goebbels, in the World War II era.
Cohen said: “They (the Republicans) say it’s a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like Goebbels. You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie and eventually, people believe it. Like blood libel. That’s the same kind of thing.”
Whoa! Did Cohen get mixed up when he invoked Nazi terminology? The problem with bringing up something like “the big Lie” and the name Goebbels is that, when this is shown later on the news on TV, everyone who is watching will jump up at the first commercial and google it.
The term “the big Lie” was coined by Hitler, not Goebbels. “The big Lie” was the lie that Germany had lost the war on the battlefield in World War I. Today, the term “the big Lie” has been turned around to mean that Hitler advocated telling big lies. Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that people are more likely to believe a big lie. Everyone tells little lies, but when you hear a big lie, you think it is true.
Hitler was against telling big lies, and as far as I know, Goebbels did not advocate telling big lies either. Goebbels thought the British told big lies. Here is a quote from Goebbels:
That is of course rather painful for those involved. One should not as a rule reveal one’s secrets, since one does not know if and when one may need them again. The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous. – Joseph Goebbels, 12 January 1941, Die Zeit ohne Beispiel
In his “big lie” speech last night, Cohen said that the Nazis told lies about the Jews over and over and eventually, this led to the Holocaust. It is true that the Nazis gave their version of what caused their defeat in World War I over and over, and their version was different from the Jewish version of what happened in World War I. But which side was lying and which side was telling the truth?
It was a big mistake for Steve Cohen to open up this can of worms. Now we will have a whole new generation looking up the facts and deciding for themselves.
To save you the trouble of looking it up, here is the exact quote from Mein Kampf:
But it remained for the Jews, with their unqualified capacity for falsehood, and their fighting comrades, the Marxists, to impute responsibility for the downfall precisely to the man who alone had shown a superhuman will and energy in his effort to prevent the catastrophe which he had foreseen and to save the nation from that hour of complete overthrow and shame. By placing responsibility for the loss of the world war on the shoulders of Ludendorff they took away the weapon of moral right from the only adversary dangerous enough to be likely to succeed in bringing the betrayers of the Fatherland to Justice.
All this was inspired by the principle–which is quite true within itself–that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.
Steve Cohen continued on, saying this on the House floor last night: “The Germans said enough about the Jews and the people believed it — and you had the Holocaust.”
The Jews were kicked out of many countries (82 times, in fact) because of accusations of “blood libel” but this accusation was not the cause of the Holocaust. It was not what the Germans said about the Jews that resulted in the Holocaust.
The Holocaust, aka “The Final Solution” was “The Final Solution of the Jewish Question.” The “Jewish Question” was whether or not the Jews should have their own country within a country, or should they assimilate. Hitler did not want the Jews to assimilate in Germany; he wanted the Jews to have their own country, but not within the country of Germany.