When discussing propaganda, one is inevitably (however perversely) drawn to the words of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, who spoke about the effectiveness of the “big lie” and how through, repetition, the most outrageous accusations may be emboldened with a veneer of truth. Goebbels (who was the only academic among the Third Reich leadership) did not invent the term “propaganda.” Still, his theorizing of it was certainly only an echo of the sentiments of Adolf Hitler, who himself raised the subject of large-scale mendacity in his autobiography Mein Kampf.
It is not just a big lie; it’s a preposterous lie—but not one that’s too preposterous to become a Democratic talking point.
No one is accusing the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden or his party of being acolytes of either Goebbels or Hitler. Still, anyone can acquire a totalitarian habit without surrendering to the complete mindset. The Democrats, unconsciously or not, became adherents of the big lie when they shifted political strategy in the last week and decided to stop denying the riots and violence in America’s cities and simply to blame President Donald Trump and his ubiquitous followers for the mayhem. It is not just a big lie; it’s a preposterous lie—but not one that’s too preposterous to become a Democratic talking point.
It may seem politically convenient to label the Democrats’ trampling on facts as Orwellian, but the move from an abject denial of violence to an insistence that it is Trump’s fault mirrors one of the subplots of his most remembered book, 1984. In Orwell’s novel, the world is in a constant state of war—except the contestants are continually changing. Allies today become enemies tomorrow, and people are just expected to accept the about-face and amend the facts according to the new reality.
What else can you say about a party that steadfastly ignored the riots and violence in urban America for months? Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who is also the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was asked about the Antifa-inspired rioting in Portland, Oregon, in late July. He suggested it was all “a myth.” Democratic Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer insisted that “Portland, Oregon is not out of control” during a speech on the House floor—after violent protests had already been occurring for almost two months.
Recall the virtually unreal Democratic National Convention? There was virtually no mention of the riots and looting that continued to happen while the goofy convention played out over the internet. Why not? Well, arguably, the Democrats did not want to alienate or insult their base—those who were on the streets of America pretending to be indulging in peaceful protest but actually fomenting revolution. Those same “peaceful protests” where we were seeing scenes of buildings being torched and stores being looted by people carrying Black Lives Matter signs, wearing Antifa t-shirts, and shouting anti-Trump obscenities? Why were they chanting to defund the police and first responders in their cities? (An issue that Biden has assiduously avoided addressing, but that squad leader Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has forcefully backed.)
In the face of all this mounting evidence, the Democrats have pivoted to claim that the violent riots were really Trump supporters. According to the Democrats, these outside agitators have hijacked the “peaceful” Black Lives Matter messaging to insight discord. “Do you seriously wonder, Mr. President, why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence?” asked Portland’s Mayor Ted Wheeler at a televised news conference. “It’s you who have created the hate and the division.”
And if these were Trump supporters, as the Democrats would now have you believe, why was the President calling for law and order and prosecution of the rioters? Why did he send the National Guard to Minneapolis to subdue the lawlessness? Why did he offer to send federal agents to all the cities affected by the chaos? Why did Portland Mayor Wheeler say “no thanks” when Trump offered help with the riots? (You’d think he would have welcomed assistance to put down all those Republican vigilantes in his backyard.) Why did Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)—Biden’s running mate—tweet support and solicit donations for the Minnesota Freedom Fund: an organization dedicated to raising bail money for arrested rioters?
Were those Trump supporters who established a Soviet cell in downtown Seattle? Were they Republican voters in Chicago who were celebrated by Black Lives Matter after going on a looting rampage the night before? Of course not; the very suggestion is absurd. But not too absurd for Democrats who had to find a way out of a losing political strategy.
THE TORCH THAT DON LEMON LIT
CNN host Don Lemon, whom one would never confuse as being even objective given his coverage of the Trump administration, may have been the catalyst for the Democrats to change their urban violence strategy from denial to blame. Last week, he suggested the riots had become an albatross around the party’s neck and that “It’s showing up in the polling. It’s showing up in focus groups,” Lemon said of the rioting. “It is the only thing, right now, that is sticking.”
“He may believe mouthing the words ‘law and order’ makes him strong, but his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows how weak he is.”
Of course, it was evident to anyone sticking to a bar stool that the growing anarchy might be an election concern, but the Democrats, it seems, were suddenly seized by the revelation that Americans might actually be concerned about hoodlums burning down their own businesses or shooting them. There was a sudden shift in focus from Democrats: Donald Trump, the new talking point became, was “fanning the flames” of violence. All that urban pain was the result of his supporters—white supremacists of course—running amok.
The new strategy emerged this week, as did Biden, coming up for air from his Delaware basement, where he had been holed up for months (and obviously hadn’t personally witnessed any of the rioting.) He came to Pittsburgh to make the stunning declaration: there has been rioting after all—but it’s all been Trump’s fault!
As the former Vice President strove to discern a world that he has largely only known via television and the internet for the past three months, his speech was classic Biden nonsense and an exercise in blatant, if comical, hypocrisy. About President Trump, he said: “He may believe mouthing the words ‘law and order’ makes him strong, but his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows how weak he is.” Biden further charged that “this president long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country. He can’t stop the violence—because for years he has fomented it … fires are burning and we have a president who fans the flames rather than fighting the flames.”
Ah, the magic script: “fans the flames.” It was soon on the lips of every Democrat standing in front of a friendly mainstream media reporter.
The uncanny Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who still has the nerve to appear on political talk shows (even though his experience in that arena has offered little but half-baked Russia conspiracy theories) repeated this “insight” during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “The president is willfully fanning the flames of this fire. They believe this is helpful to him,” Schiff parroted.
Elsewhere, congressional Black Caucus leader Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), said President Trump is “doing everything he can to fan the flames.” Bass found sinister intent in the President’s trip to Kenosha, which would’ve no doubt won his predecessor widespread applause from the Democrats for his care and personal touch.
“I think his visit has one purpose, and one purpose only. And that is to agitate things and to make things worse.”
“I think his visit has one purpose, and one purpose only. And that is to agitate things and to make things worse,” she said. “It is clear his campaign is all about law and order. It is a throwback to the past. And he’s going to do everything to disrupt law and order in this time period.”
If it is politically helpful for the Democrats to blame Trump for the riots, it is also expedient to exonerate the left-wing anarchists. The latter are actually running wild in every American metropolis. Last Thursday, the police shot and killed Antifa activist Michael Reinoel after he reportedly reached for a gun. He was the chief suspect in the killing of Aaron J. Danielson, whom Reinoel claimed was trying to kill a friend of his on the bloody streets of Portland. The New York Times, working overtime as a publicist for Antifa, did not waste a second or a comma praising the police for attempting to arrest a dangerous long-time criminal. Instead, they imagined that Reinoel was some kind of misunderstood idealist and a moderating influence on Antifa, which the Times describes as “a loose collection of activists who have mobilized to oppose groups they see as fascist or racist.” (Would the Times describe the Bolsheviks who overthrew the Tsar in similar terms?) Not content with eulogizing the death of the Marxist, the Times then reached out to Reinoel’s communist henchmen, just to see what kind of man this was. The newspaper of record suggested that Reinoel had “de-escalated” the violence in Portland. Pity he had not done so in over three months.
The Democrats used to believe in law and order. In 1968, when the Youth In Power (Yippies) and other left-wing groups rioted during during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley sent out police to turn down the rebellion and infamously said, “The police are not her to create disorder; the police are here to maintain disorder.”
These days, that same Democratic Party has adopted much of the policies and rhetoric that the New Left has bequeathed to Antifa and Black Lives Matter. In 2020, it is the Democratic Party that serves to maintain disorder—no matter how hard it argues that the Republicans are responsible for this chaos.