One thing’s for sure.
By the time the campaign to stop Internet censorship in Australia is over, millions of Australians will know a lot more about Adolf Hitler. At least, they’ll think they do.
If you’re followed the campaign, here’s a Hitler quotation you may well have encountered already, possibly more than once.
“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.“
When today I search Google for that exact text, using inverted commas (“ ”) to enclose the entire text string – then repeat the search with the omitted results included – Goggle returns no less than 1,210 results. That’s more than a thousand webpages containing the exact same quotation, presumably a copy and paste job on each occasion.
If I then repeat the search, looking for the same text in inverted commas AND for the word ‘Conroy’ *the surname of Australia’s pro-censorship Communications Minister), today I get 214 results. If I search for the same text AND for ‘internet’ AND ‘australia’, I get 424 results. It’s reasonable to infer that close to half the repetitions of this Hitler quotation (in English) on the World Wide Web occur in the context of Australia’s Internet censorship debate.
Adolf Hitler’s rather menacing remarks are sometimes directly attributed to Mein Kampf, his mid-1920s biography and call to action. They certainly seem to have captured the imagination of campaigners.
It’s been like a lot of lightbulbs switching on around Australia, in rapid succession. Say what! Crafty old Hitler was onto the exact same scam! Now the Rudd Government is behaving like Nazis. Shame, shame on them!
There’s just one little problem with this alarming narrative. Hitler never actually said those words.
At least, he DID write in Mein Kampf (English Translation): “The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people.”
That’s the kind of thing politicians often do say. He also, incidently, went on to write some things related to eugenics that are controversial. It’s not hard to find real quotes in Mein Kampf that can be construed as unsavoury and unpleasant.
But this isn’t one of them. The rest of the quotation is not in Mein Kampf at all. If someone can prove me wrong on this, please do, citing an exact page reference.
As far as I can tell, the rest of the paragraph was invented by an imaginative Rabbi in early 2004.
In fairness, Rabbi Daniel Lapin didn’t set out to deceive his readers. His essay was clearly an account of his own fantasy. He was telling a tale.
He wrote: “I thought it might be interesting to explore what Adolf Hitler himself might have thought about Move On’s derangement.”
Lapin then quoted from imaginary correspondence from Hitler, including contemporary references. The Rabbi’s main purpose seems to have been supporting the Bush Administration’s ‘War on Terror’.
The deceivers in this case – whether they do it intentionally or not – are people who repeat this quotation, wrongly attributing all of it to Hitler instead of giving due credit to the invented ‘enhancements’ added by Rabbi Lapin.
For some reason, this mainly-bogus quotation is being passed around the Australian anti-censorship campaign like a popular talisman. I wonder why?
It may well be an ‘innocent’ mistake, like the contagious mass hallucinations reported during the Salem witch trials. Alternatively or in addition, some folk may be busily priming the pump for reasons best known to themselves. There are SO MANY instances of the quote that an ‘accident theory’ seems implausible as a complete explanation. On a quick scan, it appears that most instances of this hoax quotation are posted as comments to other articles. The comments are often anonymous.
Of course, some people may take the position that it really doesn’t matter exactly what Hitler said, because (a) he is long dead and (b) he was a very, very, very bad man.
I suppose there’s nothing wrong with believing in factally inaccurate myths, as long as there’s no attempt to impose them on others.
In any case, it’s hard to beat fantasists, so I think I’ll join them.
Here’s a remark I imagine Jospeh Stalin might well have made to the Politburo in closed session. It’s absolutely authentic – direct from my vivid imagination:
“We frequently speak of the welfare of children, but this is merely a feint. Our real goal is enslavement of the adult masses. Once we can monitor the writings and reading material of the nation, we shall have absolute ideological control. We must await the necessary technological developments, but when the time comes we will smash our enemies and impose an era of absolute rule that will last 1,000 years.”
– Jo Stalin (Speech to the USSR Politburo, 1948)
There! What do you think about that? Shocking, isn’t it! Those rotten Stalinists in Canberra! (If you don’t like it, incidentally, just invent your own)
I must remember to check back on Google next week to see if that quote gets traction.
Verballing these long-deceased individuals is such good fun, I think I’ll conclude with something Winston Churchill may well have said. It’s also 100% invented and suitable for immediate recycling:
“Our stated goals in fighting two bloody world wars were democracy and freedom. But that, of course, was only window-dressing for the public. Our real goal is a great western alliance, supported by the most sophisticated propaganda system in the history of mankind, that will conquer the world through military might and maintain the privilege of the Anglophile pro-Zionist ruling elite while enforcing bondage on all others. It is vital that the public’s telecommunications are meticulously ‘filtered’ so resistance to our evil plans can be eradicated.”
– Winston S. Churchill, Un-Declassified Memo to President Roosevelt, 1941