In early September, Republicans
feigned expressed outrage when California Democratic chief John Burton accused Paul Ryan of engaging in the “big lie,” a synonym for misinformation attributed, as Burton pointed out, to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. While more than one sober pundit noted that the “big lie” has entered the political dictionary despite its provenance, the Anti-Defamation League joined those calling on Burton to apologize:
We were dismayed by your recent comparison between statements made at the Republican National Convention and the Nazi propaganda put forth by Joseph Goebbels.
This comparison to Goebbels’ genocidal propaganda serves to trivialize the Holocaust and is deeply offensive to Jews and other survivors, as well as those Americans who fought valiantly against the Nazis in World War II.
Not one hour ago I got a statement from the ADL calling on the media to do a better job at debunking the myth that a Jew was behind that noxious anti-Islam film. And I quote:
News organizations need to clearly correct the record so that this myth does not morph into another Big Lie blaming and scapegoating Israelis and Jews.”
So is using the “Big Lie” acceptable discourse or not? Or was Burton’s sin that he actually, and factually, attributed the quote to Goebbels?
Check the ADL archive and you find that they use the “Big Lie” to refer to “Israel and Apartheid,” Amiri Baraka’s 9/11 poem, and myths surrounding the “Israel Lobby.”
The ADL could argue that the “Big Lie” should only refer to anti-Jewish slander, but that’s splitting hairs, it seems to me.