Sunday, 2 January 2011

Lessons from history: Meet the inventor of "Political Home Reality Shows" and the "Big Lie"

The new year has just begun and Sarah Palin is quiet - though certainly not for long. This "break" gives me the perfect opportunity for a look back in history. In this case, I am talking about the "dark" history of the 20th century, and there are some interesting and shocking details to discover.

Sarah Palin is a "phenomenon" which still is not easy to understand. Accordingly, mainstream America seems to be uncertain about how to treat her. On the one hand, she is widely considered to be a laughable, ignorant person, as an extreme political outsider without "gravitas", but on the other hand, the extreme nature of her political positions didn't stop a channel like ABC to feature her daughter Bristol (and at the same time, Sarah) on DWTS, and didn't stop TLC from producing a folksy family propaganda show about the greatness of Alaska and the greatness of Sarah Palin's family.

Commentators in the MSM usually shy away from some of the conclusions that seem obvious for almost anyone who closely examines Sarah Palin - in particular, the apparent narcissistic nature of her personality. Wikipedia remarks:

Although most individuals have some narcissistic traits, high levels of narcissism can manifest themselves as a pathological form as narcissistic personality disorder, whereby the patient overestimates his or her abilities and has an excessive need for admiration and affirmation.

I would definitely say that Sarah Palin has an excessive need for admiration and affirmation, and one of the best pieces of evidence for this claim is her "reality show" on TLC, and also the overly enthusiastic picture she constantly paints of her own family, in particular of her children.

Sarah claims to trump the competition in being a great hunter, fisherman, mother etc., and she also has no hesitation to praise her children as being role models, for example in "America by Heart" when she talks about Bristol on page 96:

It didn’t take long after that magical night, however, for both new parents to realize how much work—and how little fun—teenage parenting is. But my strong, beautiful Bristol reacted in a way that made me proud. She went to college. And worked full time. A nd took care of a needy, colicky baby through many, many sleepless nights, doctor’s appointments, and lonely, cold car rides to and from babysitters. She worked as hard as any young single mother could possibly work.

Well, I haven't seen the college that Bristol "went to", but it surely exists in Sarah Palin's mind, and that should be good enough for her fans.

According to Sarah Palin, the "courage" of Bristol in earning hundreds of thousands of dollars through speaking out to "pause" and/or to be "abstinent" is truly remarkable (p. 121):

Bristol has boldly and publicly acknowledged in ads for the Candie’s Foundation that abstinence is the only surefire way of preventing pregnancy. A nd for this, she has been accused of being a hypocrite. But to those critics I say this: Which is the more courageous course for a young, single mother: to sit down and shut up and avoid the critics, or to speak out in a painfully honest way about how tough single parenting is? I’m biased, of course, but given a choice of role models between Bristol and Murphy Brown, I choose Bristol.

Naturally, her son Track made Sarah Palin proud as well, as she explains on page 36 in "America By Heart":

On September 11, 2008, the brigade’s deployment to Iraq landed the soldiers in the Diyala Province, northeast of Baghdad, fighting insurgents and helping to rebuild that war-torn country. Then, on September 11, 2009, he as scheduled to return home. Like all military families, his sisters, his baby brother, Todd, and I were overjoyed that Track is coming home safe. But at the last second, the family of one of the other members of the Stryker Brigade had a medical scare. Track’s fellow soldier had to get home fast, and there were no extra seats on the transport. So Track, God bless him, gave up his seat. He had to stay an additional month in the heat and sand and danger of Iraq for another available flight home. At first, he didn’t want to tell us about the reason for his delay. He still doesn’t like to talk about it, much less have his mom crow about it in print. But then I finally heard the story of what he did for his fellow soldier, I think I was prouder of my son than I had ever been before.

However, two facts stand in contradiction to this "report" by Sarah Palin about Track's selfless behavior in "America by Heart."

"The Palins are expecting the return of eldest son Track this weekend from a yearlong deployment with an Army combat brigade in Iraq," Palin spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton told The Washington Times. "Mrs. Palin also has her first major paid speaking engagement in Hong Kong" in a few days, she added

Secondly, while this report is no final proof that Track did indeed return on the weekend of the 19/20 September 2009, we do know that Track "CJ" (cough, cough) Palin was already home on October 2, 2009, because that is the day when he received a speeding ticket in Alaska. So Sarah's account in "America by Heart" is a deliberate exaggeration, presented in order to make the behavior of Track appear "greater" than it actually was. In writing about these events in this manner in "America by Heart", Sarah in my opinion also somehow diminishes the altruistic nature of Track's act.

Sarah Palin is a complex person who seems to defy "simple explanations", and the regular readers of Palingates will know that we sometimes take the liberty to look back at extreme politicians in history, especially the Nazis in order to draw parallels to current events and in order to understand history and learn from it. While history doesn't repeat itself 100%, I believe that the during the 20th century people got more than enough insights into the minds and actions of totalitarian politicians. There are more than enough lessons to be learned from the past.

Recently I watched a new TV-documentary which was produced by the leading German magazine "Der Spiegel." This 78-minute long documentary reports about the conclusions of a new biography about Joseph Goebbels, written by the accomplished German historian Peter Longerich. In his body of work, Longerich focuses on the Third Reich and the Holocaust. He is currently the Director of the Research Centre for the Holocaust and Twentieth-Century History at the Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London. His new biography about Joseph Goebbels, with the impressive length of 912 pages, doesn't seem to be available in English language so far.

I didn't expect too much from this "Spiegel" documentary, which was distributed on DVD together with a weekly edition of the magazine, but then I was really taken aback by a whole "series" of apparent "parallels" between one of the darkest people in history, Joseph Goebbels, and the woman we usually write about.

I today published a few minutes of this documentary in a clip on youtube, together with English subtitles. There is one particular fact I was never really aware about before watching this documentary: Apparently caused by a severe narcissistic personality disorder, Joseph Goebbels created a "public cult", not just around him, his upbringing and his home town, but especially around his family and his children.

For example, at some point during the 1930s after the Nazis came to power, Joseph and his wife Magda Goebbels started to commission professionally shot "birthday movies", which featured their six little children, who congratulated Joseph Goebbels and showed other scenes from their family life. Over the years, this became more and more excessive, and it is noted on several webpages that for example in 1942, the Goebbels children appeared on no less than 34 occasions in the weekly German national news reels ("Deutsche Wochenschau"), one of the most important instruments of cinematic Nazi Propaganda. The children served as the German (and Nazi) "model family."

The clip I made with excerpts from the "Spiegel" documentary gives you an impression. Please be aware that there are graphic images of the corpses of Joseph and Magda Goebbels and their dead children at the beginning of the clip. As most of you will know, Joseph and Magda Goebbels killed their six children before committing suicide in May 1945.

What stands out in looking back at this horrific exploitation of Joseph Goebbels' children is the increasingly excessive nature of the exploitation, which in my opinion cannot be explained by propaganda purposes alone. In addition, not shown in the clips above, Joseph Goebbels as the head of the German propaganda and the movie business also started to produce movies about his home town and the home in which he grew up, claiming that he had a happy, perfect childhood. In reality, as historian Peter Longerich points out, Goebbels' childhood was far from perfect, for example due to a severe deformation of his right leg which developed when Goebbels was five years old. In addition, Goebbels later was a mediocre student at University, obtaining a PhD with a low mark, however, on virtually every occasion in later life he made sure that he was introduced as "Dr. Goebbels."

History never repeats itself in identical ways, but we should all educate ourselves and try to learn from history.


In addition, Joseph Goebbels "perfected" a technique that is still very relevant today - especially as far as Sarah Palin is concerned: The "Big Lie."

The Big Lie theory goes like this: A gigantic, audacious lie is more likely to be believed by the masses than a small one if it is repeated often enough. First articulated in the pages of Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler (who attributed the practice, of course, to Jews) and deployed as a tactic by Nazi master propagandist Joseph Goebbels, the Big Lie went mainstream in 2010, as its propagators on the Right were accepted by big media as respectable articulators of a legitimate point of view.

The "Big Lie" is the classic "Sarah Palin concept." She has embraced it like nothing else. Her "official" life story is full of these "big lies" that she repeats over and over and over again.

A happy family life? A big lie. A happy marriage? A big lie. Sarah Palin's "life-affirming" pregnancy and birth of Trig? A big lie. The list goes on.

Don't let a politician with a severe narcissistic personality disorder get into the White House, and don't give this person a platform. You all understand this, but unfortunately ABC and TLC and Fox News don't.

Oh, speaking about Fox News: Kathleen found something interesting today which hasn't been discussed on Palingates so far. It turns out that one of the main propagandists for Adolf Hitler before he got into power was - Fox News:

Observers of the current US election season have noted the prominent role of Rupert Murdoch’s reactionary Fox News Channel, which currently employs GOP and “Tea Party” partisans Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Sean Hannity, and others. Some have alleged that a television network carrying so many potential political candidates and propagandists on its payroll is unprecedented. But there is a precedent for large-scale Fox intervention into a political campaign.

In 1932, the German newsreel subsidiary of Fox News Channel’s corporate ancestor, Fox Films, intervened in national elections in Germany.

The candidate Fox supported was Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

The basic facts are available in German historian Hans Mommsen’s authoritative study entitled The Rise and Fall of Weimar Democracy, which is translated into English and widely available in over five hundred libraries in this country. Mommsen, one of the most distinguished postwar German historians, is now Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Bochum. In Mommsen’s account of Nazi propaganda techniques, we find the following: “There was nothing that escaped the ingenuity of Nazi propagandists. A case in point was the use of film. Under Goebbels’ influence the party had begun to exploit the potential of the political propaganda film to an unprecedented extent as early as 1930. Such films were shown mostly in places where Hitler and other prominent party leaders were not able to appear as speakers. For the manufacture of outdoor sound film, the NSDAP turned to an American company, Twentieth Century Fox.“

Scholar William G. Chrystal confirms this account and provides further important details in his 1975 article on “Nazi Party Election Films, 1927-1938.” Chrystal writes: “Support for two additional 1932 election films, Der Führer (The Leader), and Hitlers Kampf um Deutschland (Hitler’s Struggle for Germany) came from the German-based subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Tönende Wochenschau (Fox Weekly Sound Newsreel [i.e., Fox Movietone News]). In addition, they also supplied some mobile sound film vans to be used during the campaign. Thus at least part of Hitler’s support in that critical time was the result of Fox’s help. The background for this assistance is unknown since Fox Tönende Wochenschau records were destroyed during the war,” according to a July 9, 1974 letter to Chrystal from Joseph Bellfort, who was at that time the vice president of the Twentieth Century Fox International Film Corporation.

You might have thought that Fox News should have learned their history lessons by now.



We already had our amazing yearly round-up by Blueberry Tart, but let me take a final look at our stats for 2010 as well.

The stats for Palingates in 2010 exceeded our wildest expectations:

- 5,222,981 pageloads
- 2,688,298 unique visitors
- 895,312 returning visitors

Palingates - Complete stats for 2010

I don't know what the next year will bring, but I hope that we will get close again. ;-)

As usual at the end of every month, we would like to make an appeal for donations. Every donation, big and small, will help us to keep going.

Please donate via the paypal button below, or send me an email in case you would like to donate via check, money order or cash.

We hope that you all have a good start into the new year!

2011 will be the year which will decide the political fate of Sarah Palin. We will be "on the watch!" ;-)


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