Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people: The Hitler quote controversy and its influence

Years ago (2006 to be exact), I wrote an article that was so controversial many on the sex offender reform movement shunned me. After all these years, the debate still rages over whether it is appropriate to compare sex offender laws to events and Nazi Germany. I still say yes.

What inspired me to write that particular article  in 2006 was the often used and debated passage attributed to Adolf Hitler. The quote reads as follows:

“The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation."

As it turns out, Adolf Hitler did not attend this entire quote (the first sentence is a direct quote from Mein Kampf, I might add, but not the second sentence), although a fictional version of Hitler did pen the full quote. In 1999, a rabbi named Daniel Lapin wrote an essay in the style of CS Lewis's famous book "The Screwtape Letters" (a fictional series of letters between Satan and one of his minions named Screwtape).  Lapin's essay is a fictional letter between Adolf Hitler and Julius Streicher.

[You can find a copy of the original article HERE]

The full passage in which this quote is contained is actually far more compelling than the shortened version of the quote that is so famously used. Below is the full passage:

Finally, dear Julius, you will remember what I frequently said and wrote in Mein Kampf: "The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people." I explained that as long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation. It is truly heartwarming to see how well this lesson has been learned by the American government. In the name of children, incursions into the private lives of American citizens have been made that we Nazis would have gazed at with open-mouthed admiration. Does it matter that our bodies failed as long as our spirit still triumphs?

It is no secret that the American people have allow their personal freedoms to be curtailed for the sake of public safety. Victim industry advocates have used the mantra for many years, "If it saves just one child, then these laws are worth it."  Of course, there is the matter of whose child we are "saving." Certainly not the ten-year-old boy we have placed on the registry, prosecuted by the federal government.

But even the Nazis needed the public to assist in the apprehension of undesirables. Hitler and his Gestapo would have "gazed at with open-minded admiration" at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's new "Operation Predator" app. For the small price of hooking your smart phone up to the federal government (for wiretapping purposes of course), you can rat out your neighbors, anonymously accusing them of horrific crimes, and soon Amerika's militarized police forces will be breaking down doors, shooting first and asking questions later. Hitler would have marveled at our public registry system, our residency laws, and our GPS monitoring systems. While the Nazis were innovators of surveillance, they would have envied the American surveillance network, with our giant supercomputers documenting phone calls, emails, and browser clicks.

The Ministry of propaganda would indeed have been in awe of our modern media-- our 24/7 news propaganda, our Internet propaganda, our print media propaganda, and the willingness of the gullible masses to soak up the propaganda like a sponge. "If only we had this in our day," Hitler would exclaim. Hitler would shake hands with victim industry advocates like John Walsh and lobby for guest appearances on Nancy Grace. They would be the face of a new ministry of propaganda.

Indeed, we have learned a lot from the Nazi social experiment. The Nazis were true innovators in many ways. Studying the influences the Nazis held over their constituents gives us insights into the ease by which a group can be demonized and eliminated from society. It is so effective even the thought of a ten year old child on the registry is supported by the masses.

Watching Erin Brockovich defend the practice of putting a ten-year-old child on a sex offender registry on "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher" was appalling enough, but hearing the audience hoot, clap, and cheer in approval is even more disturbing.

It is chilling to hear the words of Prosecutor Bruce Ferg when he states that the prosecution and conviction of a ten year old child "is the best thing that could've happened to the kid."

Lupin's fictional Hitler then states:

We can be confident America will preserve and develop our Nazi ideas of scientific human perfectibility because of one stroke of genius even Reich minister of propaganda, Goebbels, has to admire: Those who are advocating socialism in America, whether deliberately or inadvertently, have succeeded in turning the term "Nazi" into a slur that may only be used against those on the right, such as Christian conservatives. Never is it used against those on the left who are precisely the Americans doing most to advance our agenda.

However, people are loathe in this country to hear such a comparison. "How can you compare sex offenders to the innocent Jews? The Jews did nothing wrong, but sex offenders harmed a child." I'm not comparing Jews to Sex Offenders(though the Nazis believed the Jews were a blight on society and the cause of many of society's ills, and thus did something wrong), but I am making comments on the similarities between the practices instituted by the Nazis and the propaganda used in America to dehumanize an unpopular group of people. No sacrifice is too great even if it means sacrificing a ten year old boy, right? Remember, Hitler did not jump straight into the Final Solution, but eased into the policy after years of increasingly restrictive laws-- registration laws, signs in the front lawns, residency restriction laws, monitoring programs, and laws preventing undesirables (not just Jews, but homosexuals, the Roma, the disabled, sex offenders, Socialists, trade unionists, and the "work shy" as well) from certain jobs and social activities. We fear making such a comparison, and people shun making a rational comparison, and in doing so, we fail to acknowledge the historical elephant in the room. Those who refuse to learn from history tend to repeat history.

All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.

I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few.

Hitler understood the power of propaganda quite well. After all the Nazis had the best psychologists in the world dedicated to its use. And we have gleaned the results. Laws like Megan's Law or the PATRIOT Act were based on the most basic of human emotions. Even the mentally handicapped understand fear because it is an instinctual and biological response. These laws were created by these emotions. Propaganda further clouded the issue by creating a monstrous image of a dirty old man in a wrinkly trench coat, luring children into rusty vans with promises of candy and puppies. The 1930s German film "M" uses that image, as well as the illustration of the left, which depicts a Jew as a stereotypical child molester. Is it any wonder that generations later, we are using that same simplistic, monstrous image to discuss the heterogeneous discussion of sex offender laws and sexual abuse in America?

Raw emotion takes precedent over reason. After all, we fear something that happens about as often as someone choking to death on a hot dog. "Don't confuse us we facts, I've made up my mind," the people say. To deflect a rational discourse on the complex issue of sex offender laws or sexual abuse in America is denying the chance at a solution that values human life as a whole and seeks a true solution rather than an eliminationist "Final Solution."

It is too bad emotion blinds reason at this point in time. To quote Lapin's fictional Hitler, "We are winning Julius, we are winning. Heil Hitler."

3 comments:

  1. There are a lot of quotes that are falsely contributed to Hitler, mostly because Hitler is such a demonized person in Western society that people often try to refute their opponents by comparing their worldview to his, sometimes fraudulently. Many people, like yourself I presume, pick up the qoutes not realizing they are fraudulent. Some people will qoute Hitler out of context, making people think he vocally supported the "big lie" technique, when in fact he was actually accusing the English of lying. As another example Joseph Goebbels never said "If you tell a lie big enough it becomes the truth." It was actually Lenin who said that.

    Hitler's orginial plan for the jews was to have them emigrated out of the country. He wanted to send them to Madagascar (known as the Madagascar Plan) and he even allowed them to flee to other countries but most countries, including the USA, turned back many of the jewish immigrants because of strict immigration policy. This was before the War. It wasn't until the War broke out that those plans were changed and the jews were sent to concentration camps.

    If you think I'm defending Hitler here, I'm not. I feel I have to make that clear, similar to the way people feel they have to make it clear that they are not defending child rapists when they argue that sex offenders are not as bad as most people believe.

    A comparison can be made, I dare say, to the way nazis are viewed and to the way sex offenders are viewed. Both are seen in a black and white kind of worldview in which one side is painted as completely evil and monsterous (sex offenders, nazis) and the other side is seen as blameless suffering victims (child abuse survivors, jews.)

    It should be noted that WWII and Hitler probably could have been avoided had the USA and other countries treated Germany better after WWI, instead of punishing them severely like the way our current system treats ex-offenders, forcing them into poverty and desperation.

    Just some food for thought. I know Hitler was not a "good" guy, but I won't tolerate lies or that he should even be treated as less than human.

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  2. Humans misquote a lot of people, be it Hitler or even famous movie lines. People want to stop discussing Hitler and Nazism now because they don't want to see the policy similarities between the Nazis' escalating laws against undesirables and the similar practices employed against "sex offenders."

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  3. The "Final Solution" wasn't the initial solution, a number of escalating events led to that path.

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