What Is A ‘Big Lie,’ And Why Does It Matter That Joe Biden Is Accusing Republicans Of Telling One?

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - JULY 14: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Chase Center July 14, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden delivered remarks on his campaign's 'Build Back Better' clean energy economic plan.
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In the aftermath of the appalling attacks on the US Capitol building on January 6, one phrase has been used repeatedly by the American Left. “The Big Lie.”


What is a “Big Lie?”

A “big lie” — in German, große Lüge — is a political propaganda technique which involves constructing an untruth so “colossal” that the population cannot “believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” The term was first used by Adolf Hitler in his 1925 book Mein Kampf. Below is the relevant excerpt from James Murphy’s 1939 translation.

“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.”

Hitler believed that Jews used the “big lie” technique to blame Germany’s defeat in World War I on German general Erich Ludendorff, who himself was vocally antisemitic. Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda for Hitler’s Nazi Germany, is also often claimed to have saidIf you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Why does it matter that Democrats are using the term “big lie?”

Historians argue that the “big lie” that Jews were responsible for Germany’s World War I defeat was a precursor to the Holocaust. Goebbels and the Nazis presented the conspiracy theory that international Jewry was in control of western powers — a disgusting and false belief still promoted by antisemites to this day — and that Jews were engaging in a strategy to exterminate Germany. Their propaganda presented Jews as the aggressors and Nazi Germany as the victims, with the goal of justifying the attempted annihilation of the Jewish people in “self-defense” as part of the Final Solution.

The resurgence of the expression “big lie” is appalling simply because it is part of the Left’s broader effort to make conservatism synonymous with Nazism. The use of language which employs vivid Nazi-esque imagery is intentional, whether it be arguing that the riots in Washington D.C. on January 6th were “like Kristallnacht,” or that Trump is “like Hitler,” or comparing “Trump’s America to the Holocaust.”

In reality, the Left are applying the very same logic they are working so diligently to condemn. By arguing that Republicans who supported Trump or his various claims are “part of the big lie,” the goal is presumably to call for their expulsion from the arena of debate by applying the mischaracterization of Nazism to the entire conservative movement. This narrative presents all conservatives as the aggressors, with “democracy” — and the Democrats as its self-assigned protectors  as their victim. This is the fundamental “us versus them” ideology which underpins every fascist regime in history.

Again, January 6th was nothing like Kristallnacht, and nothing currently happening in mainstream American politics is anything like the horrors of Nazi Germany or the Holocaust. But we should note the Left’s complete lack of self-awareness as they happily apply the very propaganda techniques they claim to have identified in their enemies.

Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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