We’ve already noted Hitler’s notorious observation that a “big lie” is more likely to be believed than a little one, an ironic statement since he was referring to supposed efforts by the Jewish population to deceive people rather than his own efforts to deceive people about the Jews. In any case, the accuracy of his comment has been demonstrated over and over again; but never more frequently than in the year just past.
Perhaps no year in recent memory has been distinguished by conspicuous honesty in media, politics or the public forum, but 2010 really takes the cake when it comes to monumental mendacity. The folks at Truthout have singled out 6 “Big Lies” that were especially popular this past year, and it’s certainly worth reading the article to get the gritty details (although the author seems to get confused by her own numbering system). But briefly, the lies presented are:
1. Health care reform amounts to a “government takeover” of medicine.
2. Barack Obama and Shirley Sherrod are racists.
3. George Soros was a Nazi collaborator.
4. Obama’s trip to India cost taxpayers $200 million per day.
5. Health care reform will result in “death panels”.
6. Barack Obama is incapable of speaking eloquently without a teleprompter.
These lies have three things in common: all are utterly absurd; all are very easily discredited; and all are fervently believed by a large portion of the American population. But this selection of lies is by no means inclusive, and there are several other Big Lies that gained a lot of traction during the past year that would have been worthy of focus.
For example, there is the notion (alluded to in the article) that Obama is not a U.S. citizen; there’s the notion that he’s a Muslim (one moral we can glean is that just about any lie will be believed if it has the word “Obama” attached to it); there’s the notion that scientists have deliberately cooked the books to support the “hoax” of climate change; there’s the notion that ACORN was a corrupt, politically motivated organization that committed significant voter fraud. And on and on and on. We won’t even count such perennial warhorses as the notion that the U.N. is a corrupt, arcane organization that is bent on world domination.
Another interesting year-in-review article focuses on one single liar, but a very prominent one: Glenn Beck. Media Matters serves up a list of 15 lies he served to his fans the past year (by no means an inclusive list), the last of which is repeated claim that if he ever lied on the air, Fox would fire him. Guess which network he’ll be lying for in 2011?