The Big Lie About the November Criminals of 2020
History seems to be repeating itself with the proliferation of another Big Lie, and here’s why we must amplify the truth.
“How could we have lost? Victory was stolen from us!”
Sound familiar? While these words have echoed across social media for months regarding the 2020 presidential election results, that outrage was expressed over a century ago when the Weimar Republic signed an armistice in November 1918 to end World War I.
Germany’s Big Lie
Until that point, the German people had consumed a steady diet of propaganda predicting Germany’s imminent victory, and patriotism registered at an all-time high. The unexpected news of defeat devastated the German people, and conspiracy theories sprouted amid the confusion of a prideful society unwilling to accept the truth.
“Events in Russia in 1917 further stirred the pot of simmering hatred, adding the vital ingredient — to become thereafter the keystone of antisemitic [sic] agitation — of Jews portrayed as running secret international organizations directed at fomenting world revolution.” ~ Ian Kershaw, Hitler, 1889–1936: Hubris
Consequently, the conspiracy theory that gained traction was that the German military (who could not accept defeat) had been stabbed in the back by the “November Criminals” — the Social Democratic-led government of the Weimar Republic, particularly the Jewish members of the party. The outrage increased when the Allies held Germany responsible for the war and forced them to pay crippling reparations per the Treaty of Versailles.
“In reality, of course, there had been no treachery, no stab-in-the-back. This was a pure invention of the Right, a legend the Nazis would use as a central element of their propaganda armoury [sic].” ~ Ian Kershaw, Hitler, 1889–1936: Hubris
Hitler’s Rise to Power
Hitler rose to power, fomenting the rage of the German people who felt “betrayed” by the government who surrendered (what the people believed to be) a winnable war. This Big Lie was never adequately refuted, and like a disease, it spread and poisoned the minds of the German people with anger against a manufactured enemy.
“Hatred, as Hitler had recognized, was among the most powerful of emotions. That was what he consciously appealed to.”¹ Hitler correlated the social unrest and economic hardship of the time “with the Social Democratic leadership who, in his view, were ‘ripe for hanging.’”² His vitriolic criticisms of the Jews aroused chants of “Flog them! Hang them!”³ at his rallies. He vowed to restore the country to its former greatness. The betrayal by the November Criminals had brought “a great nation…to its knees. It was time to clear out the rot.”⁴
Hitler’s critics were “uncomprehending at a mélange of half-truths, distortions, over-simplifications, and vague, pseudo-religious redemptionist [sic] promises,”⁵ espoused by Hitler at his many rallies, “but the…people…had not turned up to listen to an intellectual discourse.”⁶
A cult of personality sprung up around Hitler. “I had no thought for anyone but Hitler. His behavior moved me to give him my whole faith, without reserve.”⁷ Many revered Hitler as the savior for all that ailed their country.
Hitler “pilloried the ‘November criminals’”⁸ and, more specifically, the Jews, whom he dehumanized as cockroaches, rats, vermin, and parasites. This dehumanization allowed the Germans who worshipped Hitler to overlook and even commit unspeakable atrocities in the years to follow.
America’s Big Lie
Trump and his allies have also fed Trump supporters a steady diet of propaganda ensuring victory in the 2020 election. Trump assured his faithful, “the only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.” The unexpected news of defeat devastated Trump supporters, and conspiracy theories sprouted amid the confusion of a loyal following unwilling to accept the truth.
Those on the Left have been vilified by the far-right for years. Democrats are demonized as Satan-worshipping pedophiles (“Demonrats”) operating secret international child pornography rings to obtain power, overthrow the existing government and institute a new world order.
Consequently, the conspiracy theory that gained traction was that Trump (who could not admit defeat) had been stabbed in the back by the November criminals of the 2020 election. They believe Democrats corrupted and conspired with defense agencies, state governors and judges, election officials, and even the Supreme Court in a secret coup to steal the election. The outrage increased with each Republican who stepped forward to speak the truth: the election was not stolen. Far-right extremists called for these treasonous traitors to be hung from gallows or have their heads put upon spikes.
In reality, “the November 3rd election was the most secure in American history,” assured Department of Homeland Security director Christopher Krebs. He further stated, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, or was in any way compromised.”
Trump’s Rise to Power
Trump rose to power by fomenting rage against the Democratic party, who he said had betrayed the working class with policies friendly to immigrants and minorities and hostile toward American citizens. Trump vowed to Make America Great Again with his “America First” nationalist policy, which called for changes to foreign policy, immigration, taxes, and trade.
Trump stoked the anger of the American people who blamed corrupt politicians for endangering their way of life. He railed against corruption in Washington by vowing to “drain the swamp.” He incited domestic terrorism with chants of “Lock her up!” for former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. He encouraged xenophobia with chants of “Send her back!” for Somali born U.S. Citizen and congresswoman Ilhan Omar. He spread lies about election integrity that inspired shouts of “Stop the Steal!” after the results of the 2020 election. Most recently, he incited an insurrection where chants of “Hang Mike Pence!” echoed through the halls of Congress after the vice president failed to break the law and overturn the election in Trump’s favor.
Many Trump critics remain incredulous at the mountain of lies, misinformation, distortion of facts, and conspiracy theories espoused and amplified by Trump at his many rallies. His followers believe every word. It’s no wonder many who turn up at Trump rallies do not want to participate in intellectual discourse.
A cult of personality has sprung up around Trump. Many believe his claims of genius and superior business skills. Some attribute supernatural powers to him and worship him as someone ordained by the Almighty to save the country from the ruin of the evil Democratic party. His followers don’t want to hear the truth, especially if it paints their savior in a negative light.
Trump has legitimized hate speech, racism, xenophobia, and misogyny. His rhetoric has allowed dehumanizing words to pepper public discourse and pollute social media. Far-right political commentator Nick Fuentes recently said, “What is happening in our country is parasitism,” implying that persons of color and those opposing Trump were a disease threatening white identity.
David Livingstone Smith, author of Less than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others, warns that “dehumanization…acts as a psychological lubricant, dissolving our inhibitions and inflaming our destructive passions. As such, it empowers us to perform acts that would, under other circumstances, be unthinkable.”
Amplifying the Truth
Many are leery of being called an alarmist by making comparisons to Nazi Germany — and the similarities go beyond what is briefly described here — but there is danger in not making the comparisons, not heeding the warnings written in the pages of history.
The Big Lie for Germany was that they didn’t lose the war, that victory was stolen by a corrupt Jewish government.
The Big Lie for America is that Trump didn’t lose the election, that victory was stolen by a corrupt Democratic Party and anyone else who acknowledged their victory.
As Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) said, “The best way we can show respect for voters that are upset is by telling them the truth!” Presently, a majority of Republican voters don’t want to hear the truth. They believe the Big Lie that the election was stolen.
In order to correct the lie, we must expose the liars — including President Trump — to hold them accountable for their actions. If we do not, it could morph into something far more sinister than what we witnessed on January 6th, and, like Germany, America would be a cautionary tale for generations to come.
- Kershaw, Ian. Hitler, 1889–1936: Hubris. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1998, 316
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