“His Primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”
Sounds like an excerpt from the Obama playbook, right? Or maybe Saul Alinsky? No, this text comes from an analysis of Adolf Hitler’s strategies and use of the “Big Lie” to manipulate and control the masses, as prepared by the United States Office of Strategic Services.
It’s interesting how history cycles around to the same old thing, over and over. Ecclesiastes 1:9 reads: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ominous words that are sadly true — a warning that mankind continuously fails to heed.
Historically, societies have good people and bad. The good people tend to live their lives with good intentions to stay informed, be involved in the community, heed their belief system, behave in a moral way, raise their children to be good people, and work hard. They innocently get swept up in the assumption that everyone else is also, basically good. So, they overlook the evil that encroaches upon their society in dribs and drabs. They look the other way, they make excuses for the bad behavior of others, maybe even taking blame for being the cause of the bad behavior — all because of their internal belief that everyone wants the same things they want, and believe the same things they believe.
But eventually, and out of nowhere, evil takes command of the society. The good people finally see the evil that has been there the whole time. While evil was still powerless, the good people did not see it, or did not want to see it, so they were blind. Perhaps they could not see it because they did not know what it looked like, smelled like, or sounded like.
Evil is silent. It sneaks up in the night, gaining footholds one drib at a time; one drab at a time. While the good people sleep, it sets a trap for its prey. When morning comes and the people awaken, they find themselves impossibly ensnared by the power of the beast, as it rains terror down upon the land, with full abandon.
How does evil do this, time and again? Evil studies history. It analyzes previous evil doing, making note of what worked, as well as what didn’t work. It uses the playbook of any and all evil which came before it, adding new dialogue and vocabulary, simply to be current with the times — progress. The core of the playbook remains intact throughout time: agitate the poor; create division among the people (through race-baiting, anti-Semitism, anti-Capitalism, anti-Tea Party, anti-whatever); find weaknesses in the good people through their emotions — such as guilt, anger, jealousy, covetousness, fear, confusion — and then exploit them; and finally, incorporate the Big Lie about anything and everything that is necessary to manipulate and dupe the good people. Finally, the good people have been groomed and prepared for the evil that will sink its lethal talons into the society, intending to never let go.
As the historical cycle goes, the good people don’t stand a chance for they don’t study history with the same rigor and attention to detail. Good people learn the stories of evil historical events, such as the Holocaust, with the focus on the horrible outcome. What they learn from the personal stories, the destruction of lives, and the devastating aftermath, is what evil looks like in its death. This is important, to be sure, but much more than that is required if they are to truly learn from history in order to avoid repetition. Good people must study the events that led to the horror with greater scrutiny. They must learn what evil looks like at its birth. What gets lost in the message of history is how, nearly always, good people were duped into complicity and cooperation, with and by, evil. Only if history is analyzed in such a way to determine what the silent evil looks like, and how it draws the good people to its side, will societies avoid allowing the evil to rise, again. And it always rises again.
Evil studies and analyzes history so adeptly that each time it resurfaces it is able to advance more quickly and more powerfully than before, simply because it has learned from history. Good people must then do the same. They must be sure their children learn history — the causes as well as the effects. If they aren’t learning it in school, then it is up to the good parents to teach them. If they don’t, they may find themselves like the good people of Germany — duped, complicit, and guilty.