The New Iron Curtain – Goebbels Returns
by EDWARD CLINE
February 9, 2017
Let's say it in German: Der neue Eiserne Vorhang - Goebbels Redux!
And who was Goebbels?
Joseph Goebbels [1897-1945] served as minister of propaganda for the German Third Reich under Adolf Hitler-a position from which he spread the Nazi message.
In 1927, Goebbels founded Der Angriff ("The Attack"), a weekly national Socialist newspaper, and the following year, Hitler appointed him to the post of national director of propaganda for the Nazis.
Once installed, Goebbels began creating the Führer myth around Hitler, punctuating it with huge rallies geared toward converting the German people to Nazism. His day-to-day activities also included designing posters, publishing propaganda pieces, using his bodyguards to incite street battles and generally increasing political agitation.
An "Iron Curtain"?
The first recorded application of the term to Communist Russia, again in the sense of the end of an era, comes in Vasily Rozanov's 1918 polemic The Apocalypse of Our Times, and it is possible that Churchill read it there following the publication of the book's English translation in 1920. The passage runs:
If the German people lay down their weapons, the Soviets, according to the agreement between Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin, would occupy all of East and Southeast Europe along with the greater part of the Reich. An iron curtain would fall over this enormous territory controlled by the Soviet Union, behind which nations would be slaughtered.
Although its popularity as a Cold War symbol is attributed to its use in a speech Winston Churchill gave in March 1946 in Fulton, Missouri, Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels had already used the term in reference to the Soviet Union.
But today, in 2017, Goebbels is unusually plump, wears a skirt, and has a hair dresser. His name is now Angela Merkel. She, too, is creating a myth, one that is so full of cracks and leaks it can hardly hold the malice against truth and for the German people - the myth that Muslim refugees will help to remake Germany. It can be held together with the tool of propaganda, government lies, force, and censorship.
But that alliance is not working too well. Were it working as well as expected, there would be no organized opposition to the Islamization of Germany, no opposition to the establishment of a "German Islam," no demonstrations, no Germans arrested or fined for "hate speech." There would be no Afd Party that threatens to end Merkel's fantasy in progress of an Islamic Germany.
Germany's strict libel and slander laws are meant to protect citizens by making it a crime to defame others. More than 218,000 cases involving insults were filed with prosecutors in 2015. But few Internet based cases were prosecuted.
Germans know what Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker are up to, which is to force them to submit to the European Union's immigration policies, and to submit to Islam, to "integrate" them with Islam, to inure Germans to the migrant record of rapes, robberies, harassment, and the presence of countless Muslims hostile to and opposed to assimilating Western culture and values.
What is the "hate speech" that the German government wants to suppress or prohibit? Wikipedia's definition of it is:
Hate speech is speech which attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as gender, ethnic origin, religion, race, disability, or sexual orientation. In the law of some countries, hate speech is described as speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it incites violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected group, or individual on the basis of their membership to the group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected group, or individual on the basis of their membership to the group.
Muslims, however, are not ever found guilty of "hate speech"; they can publically call uncovered Western women "sluts" or "prostitutes," because their insults are deemed expressions of their "religion" or as "legitimate" forms of "political protest."
"Hate speech" in fact has no physical power to harm anyone. Its harmful property is purely a psychological one; if one is so thin-skinned or self-esteem-deficient that a sneer or a dirty look can be claimed as derogatory or defamatory or hurtful, then one may as well retire to a cave or an island where one would not encounter other men. "Hate speech" has no metaphysical or existential potency. I oppose the very concept of it, mainly because it can be used to censor any form of criticism - book, cartoon, satire, or middle fingers.
Eugene Volokh, in his May 2015 Washington Post article, "No, there's no "hate speech exception to the First Amendment," notes,
But there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment. Hateful ideas (whatever exactly that might mean) are just as protected under the First Amendment as other ideas. One is as free to condemn Islam - or Muslims, or Jews, or blacks, or whites, or illegal aliens, or native-born citizens - as one is to condemn capitalism or Socialism or Democrats or Republicans.
Unfortunately, Germany has no equivalent of the First Amendment that would stymie government plans to regulate speech. Merkel and her censorial cronies, such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, are just fine with its absence. To make a statement on paper, on a soapbox, or on the Internet that is critical of migrants and especially of Muslims is fair game for punishment by the government.
This leaves the German government to quash what it deems "fake news" from any quarter but its own.
Judith Bergman in her January 2017 Gatestone article, "Germany's New Propaganda Bureau," reports:
Germany has, of course, been cracking down on free speech for quite a while now. Already in September 2015, Merkel said, "When people stir up sedition on social networks using their real name, it is not only the state that has to act, but also Facebook as a company should do something against these statements".
Under a government program, which has enlisted the help of the German non-governmental organization, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, led by Anetta Kahane (who has turned out, in a fine twist of irony, to be a former Stasi agent and informer) German authorities are monitoring how many supposedly "racist" posts reported by Facebook users are deleted within 24 hours. Justice Minister Heiko Maas has pledged to look at legislative measures if the results turn out to be "unsatisfactory". The program is scheduled to run until March 2017.
A married couple, Peter and Melanie M., were prosecuted and convicted in July 2016 of creating a Facebook group that criticized the government's migration policy. Their page stated, "The war and economic refugees are flooding our country. They bring terror, fear, sorrow. They rape our women and put our children at risk. Make this end!" Also, in July 2016, 60 people suspected of writing "hate speech" online had their homes raided by German police.
None of the above seems to be enough, however, for the president of the Bundestag, Norbert Lammert, from Merkel's CDU party, who believes that what Facebook is already doing against "hate speech" is not enough. According to Lammert, there is a need for more legislation. A law to bring social networks under penalty of fines if they fail to erase "hate messages" and "false news" has just been announced by Volker Kauder, leader of the parliamentary group in Merkel's current Bundestag and CDU/CSU faction, and Thomas Oppermann, Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) parliamentary group.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has also recently called on companies such as Facebook to address "false announcements" on the Internet, saying he felt that the Europeans were increasingly becoming "sensitive to who is fluttering around them and who is telling them the truth."
As I noted above, Muslims are as a rule exempt from charges of hate speech. Bergman concludes with:
In another such instance, a German court found that the firebombing of a synagogue in Wuppertal by two German Arabs and a juvenile accomplice was not anti-Semitic, but rather "an act of protest" to "bring attention to the Gaza war." The men were convicted of arson.
In Germany, it is criminal to bring attention to the problems that come with the government's migration policies, or to criticize those policies, because this constitutes "hate speech." Firebombing a synagogue, on the other hand, is simply an "act of protest." Perhaps, once the "Defense Center against Disinformation" is set up, such "acts of protest" will be labeled, "Officially Approved Un-Fake Communication."
Stab a Jew, or run over him in Israel, and that's "free expression"! It's "protest"!
Back to "fake news." How's this for "fake news"?
"His Excellency the Exalted Ambassador from Mars announces to Linda Sarsour he will convert to Islam!"
Okay. So you don't believe that's a legitimate headline and that it has no connection to reality. Understandable. But the truth about Islam and Muslim migrants - and how they are making Germany (and Sweden, Denmark, and Norway) inhospitable "no go" zones for indigenous citizens - that's "fake news." In short they are being "Islamized."
Robbie Travers, in his Gatestone article of January 2017, "The ‘Fake News' Censorship Industry," writes:
The German government thinks it knows exactly who should be the arbiter of truth and what articles you should be allowed to post. Itself!
After a bill was proposed by German lawmakers, which threatened fines of up to 500,000 Euros ($522,000) for publishing "fake news," Facebook decided to use an organization called Correctiv, described as a German fact-checking non-profit organization, to decide whether reported stories are "real" or "fake."
This system would then encourage individual Facebook users to report other users' posts to Correctiv. Facebook would then have Correctiv label any of the articles "fake news," as they see fit.
Even then, this proposed response by Facebook was not harsh enough for some German lawmakers, who want articles deemed to be fake by the government to be removed within 24 hours, or else fine Facebook 500,000 Euros. That move would undoubtedly lead to individuals abandoning Facebook for other social networks, or more probably, Facebook abandoning them. German attempts to police the Facebook could end up useless; to many, the plan looks suspiciously like a money-making stratagem.
A centralized "speech police" would also create a monopolization of the media industry. One or two large platforms would dominate the public debate; fringe voices would be ignored and cast aside.
Facebook's "Trending News Team" banned people exposing jihadists, but allowed pages glorifying anti-police violence and pages promoting anti-Israeli terrorism. That is quite a track record.
Individuals, without even inciting violence, have been wrongly censored by Facebook. A former Gatestone writer, Ingrid Carlqvist, saw her account suspended; Gatestone writer Douglas Murray's articles were censored from Facebook; and this author had his Facebook blocked for questioning Black Lives Matter. All the banned authors challenged politically correct revisions of events.
The whole censorship industry is open to abuse; presumably, that is what censorship is for in the first place.
Censorship is about playing with men's minds, about faking reality for them and for the censors themselves, with government-approved "fake news." The original Goebbels was a master of it, suckering in a morally and philosophically disarmed populace. Merkel and Juncker are not so good at it. Thus, Merkel and her co-conspirators are worried that her regime might come to an end, and the "iron curtain" of fake news would rust away.
Edward Cline is the author of the Sparrowhawk novels set in England and Virginia in the pre-Revolutionary period, of several detective and suspense novels, and three collections of his commentaries and columns, all available on Amazon Books. His essays, book reviews, and other articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Journal of Information Ethics and other publications. He is a frequent contributor to Rule of Reason, Family Security Matters, Capitalism Magazine and other Web publications.