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 prior posta regarding Hitler and the Nazis.)
* Quotations are from The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, 1922-1939, ed. N H Baynes, Oxford University Press 1942, Howard Fertig Inc. 1969, p19 – 21
Yes, Martin, “admin” is me, Larry Harvey. I very much appreciate your thoughtful input on these important issues.
I prefer for people to use names rather than “anonymous”, of course. But you know, I think some folks in the present climate in this country are afraid to have their names circulating too freely.
Thank you for taking up my cogitations, and affirmatively at that! But now I must try really hard to sort it out better. I wish to put some clarity and structure in my thesis for I can see the danger of that wisdom coming true which says subtle misunderstandings may be the worst. Please grant me some time for gathering up precision.
P.S.: And please, never be bewildered if I play a wrong semantic chord – and thus achieve a misguided rhetoric. I certainly am glad and proud that our parent generations have bequeathed us a close friendship of our peoples, whereas wariness first told the US in 1945 to non-fraternize with the inhabitants of Nazi-Land. Yet, I firmly believe, a time has come when friendship must spell honesty and a searching probe to the core of those (spiritual) things that are of mutual concern, rather than even more furtherance of the intertwining of economic or military processes – that passes completely by, or even threats to vitiate the democratic cause on both parts. I preserve strong doubts that our chancellor in spe Ms. Merkel will serve us well there (though Mr. Schroeder too was certainly no darling).
To be continued later,
By the way, does your signature “admin” indicate, that I got answer from Larry Harvey, who edits this site. I am myself a little bit bewildered at the great number of contributors mailing without name or pseudonym. Am I missing a hint of how this forum ought to be accessed?
Thanks for a personal reply, email@example.com
Thank you Martin, for your thoughts on this. There is one clause in your comment that I do not understand (end of the first paragraph, â€œCompatriot (resp. Contemporary) anonymousâ€?). Otherwise I think I understand, and I appreciate it. Is this more or less what you are saying (expressed via more ordinary American usage)?
Isn’t the world bizarre?
I turn to an American website to find out what American Christians themselves (at least those of them who appreciate Jesus’ passion for the weak) think about G.W.B. and before long I stumble across a link of thought which – if strained at home in public speech at my German baptist congregation – might easily have stirred up a rush of hiss and murmer enough to turn my face to crimson. “Notorious America-hatred”, “rhetorical rowdiness” or “innate Teutonic unthankfulness” could have proved to be the more sophistaced pieces of feedback forthcoming.
We Germans do virtually enshrine our concern and piety at those unparalleled crimes the lot of us has proved to be capable of. Tying ourselves to the apron-strings of our democracy’s great American nursery mother saves us from asking any real question about the impact of us sailing in the wake of W’s social darwinist ideology on the mental constitution of our democracy – which from the standpoint of Christian conviction should be nothing else but application of the twin commandment of love to our latent relationship with Compatriot (resp. Contemporary) anonymous.
It was unconcern for the Word of God as resource of a sense individual responsibility for the deteriorating moral state of society that has made an earlier generation of us slip into the tyranny that will forever weigh upon our nation’s conscience. It was certainly not anything related to family values, sexual continence or that utterly vile effeminacy of not honouring with sufficient stoutness military and capitalism.
So what do our friends of political correctness grieve about so bitterly? Nobody says Bush is Hitler, or that he would by his mindset forge America into a “Fourth Reich”. Yet again, which god of politics has ordained that effective tyranny could hold sway only after democracy be openly recanted?
Thanks for a personal reply, firstname.lastname@example.org
You blamed God for something HE didn’t do… Whats that, biased?