It is not pleasant to study the face of evil, but it seems good that some of us be aware of its common habits, intentions, and techniques, and spread our findings around a bit. I’ve been browsing again in the speeches of Adolf Hitler*. There are several patterns of manipulation and verbal violence that quickly stand out to me.

  • Deliberate misuse of Christian terms and references to make himself sound like a true and devoted Christian – at least he would appear so to those who were not paying close attention, and unfortunately many Christians and church leaders do not pay close attention to such things.

    “L … said … that his feeling ‘as a man and a Christian’ prevented him from being an Anti-Semite. I say: my feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Saviour as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were … As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.”

    His comments a few minutes later in the same speech carry the flavor of Jesus’ concern about the “sheep without a shepherd”.

    “…the mightiest thing which our Movement must create: for these widespread, seeking, and straying masses a new Faith which will not fail them in this hour of confusion, to which they can pledge themselves, on which they can build so that they may at least find once again a place which may bring calm to their hearts.”

    Well, there you have it. A new Messiah, offering to do the job Jesus nobly tried to do, but this time successfully. This is a brilliant capitalizing on the Christian feeling in many Germans while he explicitly subverts that religious loyalty and shifts it to the nation and its (deeply Christian?) Leader. As I said above, this often works because Christian people are not paying close attention. They sometimes seem to think it is disrespectful or unbelieving to pay close attention. They are certainly wrong about that.

  • Constant lying about sub-groups of the German people, including Jews, liberals, government officials, artists, authors, and many others. I don’t mean political campaigning; I mean deliberate, vigorous, extensive, sustained deadly lying (sometimes linked with a few morsels of truth to make it go down easier).
  • Constant distortion of historical events. Again, not just occasional accidental misstatement or slight exaggeration, but deliberate, extensive, public lying.
  • Deliberate incitement to invasion and war on false pretenses.
  • Mocking of and non-cooperation with other nations and with international agencies, and abrogation of treaties.

All these things occur and recur in his speeches. To me all these behaviors ‘ and those who practice them ‘ are profoundly cowardly, because they flee from and camouflage reality instead of dealing with it intelligently and effectively. But that’s beside the point, and it makes these evil behaviors no less effective or deadly. Whether he actually said it or not, Hitler certainly practiced this concept: If you make the lies big enough, and say them often enough and loud enough, the people will believe and act on them.

Now the unpleasant question: Do you see ways in which any of these practices have been present in America in recent years?

(See a prior post with quotes from Hitler on morality and family values.)

* Quotations are from The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, 1922-1939, ed. N H Baynes, Oxford University Press 1942, Howard Fertig Inc. 1969, p19 – 21