Germany Revisits Big Lie Theory

It’s been said that Hitler gained support for his anti-Semitic programs by appealing to a sense of conspiracy: He suggested that Jews were so fantastically nefarious that they were obviously behind the downfall of the Kaiser’s Reich. His pronouncement on the technique can even be seen on this PBS page:

Equally important was his theory that a big lie is always better than a little one because the masses “more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie.”

In this same spirit, the current German government, through the provenance of its own PBS analog, ARD, is now promulgating the very big lie that the “Bush Family orchestrated the 9/11 attacks.” We get the goods through Davids Medienkritik.

Readers here know what I think about conspiracy theories. The German public broadcaster’s conspiracy theory is debunked all over the place, but a particularly authoritative source is to be found at Popular Mechanics, which conducts said debunking quite thoroughly and scientifically. In the editorial introduction, the editors warn:

These 9/11 conspiracy theories, long popular abroad, are gradually–though more quietly–seeping into mainstream America. Allegations of U.S. complicity in the attacks have become standard fare on talk radio and among activists on both the extreme left and the extreme right of the political spectrum.

Don’t get me wrong: Healthy skepticism is a good thing. Nobody should take everything they hear–from the government, the media or anybody else–at face value. But in a culture shaped by Oliver Stone movies and “X-Files” episodes, it is apparently getting harder for simple, hard facts to hold their own against elaborate, shadowy theorizing.

The “Greatest Generation” fought a noble war to free a continent from the boot of a dictator who employed the Big Lie to further his conspiracy theory-driven agenda. Just because Germany is no longer among the greatest powers, just because she is no military threat to anyone, doesn’t mean that the insidiousness of these invidious allegations will do no harm. It is furthermore appalling that such bald lies are being aired on government-subsidized television.

If it were just on private television, then I’d say, great, the best way to fight abuse of the freedom of speech, is to counter with better speech. But it is certainly not helpful that Germany, of all countries, should be engaging in this sort of rumor-mongering.

All the more reason not to buy overpriced German cars.

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

Is Germany Flat-lining?

Came across a Kate Connolly article in the News Telegraph,
“Ailing Germany Slides Down Economic League”
. (Noted by Powerline.) She argues that Germany’s per capita purchasing power parity has remained static since 1995 and is projected to do so to 2015. I am curious and wonder if the wise men of our blog can tell me how accurately this chart reflects reality. On the one hand, I’m constantly surprised by the quantities of time each year Germans find to vacation. While this seems a quite pleasant lifestyle, it doesn’t seem a productive one. On the other hand, unless I’m missing it (and it’s late and I may have), I don’t see any indication that the rather massive costs of its reunification with a not quite modernized East Germany made any differences. Surely that affected all these stats in important ways, ways in which the last ten years might not so successfully predict the next ten?

The Perspective of Academia

An anecdote for Ralf and one not unrelated to Rummel’s latest: My husband was small talking Christmas family news with a colleague; he mentioned our oldest daughter spends every other Christmas in Germany with her husband’s parents. His colleague responded that her choice of husband must have made us happy. He replied that we did, indeed, like her choice very much. Then, his colleague made herself clearer: “You must have been really afraid she’d marry a Texan.” My husband who grew up in a small Texas town twenty miles away and is deeply immersed in a broad and tightly knit Czech-Texan family was a little taken aback. She did not seem to be joking–it is possible he misread her. But she seemed serious enough that he didn’t respond that our only complaint was that our son-in-law brought German politics with him and has not been disabused of these while living in cobalt Austin. (She and her husband bought a house and raised their children in France – where the children now live. Not all that many careers leave us free to live on one continent and get paid on another.)

Suicide bombing kills five in Kabul

Four of the dead are German soldiers, 30 more soldiers and bystanders were injured.

As terrible this is it still is telling that attacks like this are rare enough to be newsworthy in a country that has been liberated less than 18 months ago. It really seems as if the remaining Taleban and Islamists in general are no longer capable of conducting real operations and are reduced to blowing themselves up like Palestinian terrorists.

Going after European targets is a seriously boneheaded moveon the side of the Islamists; for all their hypocrisy about the American approach to the war on terror European governments are much less concerned with respecting the human rights of terrorists once they feel forced into all-out war. The European camps are going to be much less pleasant than that at Guantamano Bay, not to mention much larger.

What the Numbers Mean

The losses for the Social Democrats were expected to be severe and turn out to be even worse, downright catastrophic. Schroeder’s power is strongly diminished, he won’t be able to do anything without the say-so of the opposition parties, as I expected. In my opinion this is great news. The trade unions’ ability to block reforms via their hold over the Social Democrats will be much reduced and at the very least this should shut Schroeder up, even if he won’t support the war on Iraq. With any luck he might get sick of being heckled at home and irrelevant abroad and step down voluntarily. More on that tomorrow, I’m off to celebrate.