the big lie

In modern times, Adolf Hitler was a big fan of the big lie. His writing on the topic in his Mein Kampf is exquisitely evil.

Lies are a propaganda tool. Think what Hitler and his propaganda henchman Joseph Goebbels could have done if they’d had television and social media.

Think what they did without them.

Hitler accused the Jews of using “the big lie” to blame Germany’s loss in World War I on German general Erich Ludendorff, a nationalist and anti-Semitic political leader.

Hitler claimed that they were – “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.”

— Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X, according to a translation by James Murphy.

Jeffrey Herf, a distinguished professor of modern European history at the University of Maryland whose field is 20th Century Germany, maintains, according to Wikipedia, that Goebbels used the Big Lie to turn long-standing anti-Semitism into mass murder. The “big lie” went like this: Germany was besieged by “international Jewry” which started World War I. Jews held all the real power in Britain, Russia, and the U.S. Jews had begun a war of extermination against Germany so Germany had a duty and a right to annihilate the Jews in self-defense.

Now let’s look at a contemporary “big lie.”

In September of 2016 Bloomberg Businessweek wrote about investigations by media, including the Los Angeles Times, and by the NY State Attorney General that as early as the 1970s Exxon Mobil understood more about climate change than it had let on and had deliberately misled the public about it.

Bloomberg quotes environmentalist Bill McKibben, originator of the worldwide environmental organization,, saying, “Exxon helped organize the most consequential lie in human history.”

Exxon denies its culpability.

Meanwhile, Exxon’s investments in Russia to develop oil fields, were sidelined by sanctions slapped against Russia after it annexed Crimea and fomented war in Ukraine.

Now, Rex Tillerson, former head of Exxon Mobil, serves as secretary of state and a climate change denier serves as head of the EPA.

The New York Times reported in December 2016 that Tillerson has opposed sanctions on Russia, which are the single greatest obstacle to foreign investment in that country. Russia has two enormous areas for new oil development, in the Barents Sea and a shale field in western Siberia. They’re essentially closed to development because of a lack of foreign capital and expertise. Exxon was poised to invest in both areas before the sanctions.

When it comes time once more for the slogan “drill, baby, drill,” I predict we’ll experience another round of attempts by the fossil fuel industries to debunk scientific facts. I see the denial of climate change by the U.S. Congress as simply a façade in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence of its urgency—an excuse to enable further fossil fuel production and pollution by the oil and gas industry that pulls the strings of many a Congressional campaign for re-election. Congress and the current Administration already are rolling back clean air and water regulations vital to human health and the viability of life on planet Earth, crucial to us all regardless of our political positions.

Some of you may know that poison ivy and cockroaches thrive on a warming planet. Although I spent 30 years as a newspaper reporter, I now write poetry. I’ll close with my poem,

The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth

I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.                                                  …Psalm 37: 35,36.

Who will say

I told you so

when all the bumblebees

and the last

lemur-sea lion-gorilla-black rhino-polar bear-humpback whale-snow leopard-chimpanzee-green turtle-spider monkey-giant panda-piping plover-staghorn coral-Sumatran tiger-emerald dragonfly-Asian elephant-monarch butterfly-indigo macaw-yellow-shouldered blackbird perish?

Who will say

I told you so

when oceans

swallow nations

when droughts

starve generations

when the last redwood falls?

Who will say

I told you so

when Sandys and Katrinas

obliterate cities

when wildfires

devour homes

melt forests like Icarus wings

leaving the land hollow and alone?

Here’s who—

Cockroach parks his

turbocharged V-8

and walks into a bar.

He says to Poison Ivy

ain’t life grand?

–Nan Lundeen copyright 2017