I suppose the point about ‘ the big lie’ is that the vast majority of people start out knowing in their hearts that it is a lie. Then for reasons of expediency, personal gain and perhaps above all because the lie is more comfortable than the truth, they join the power brokers and their acolytes who started the lie. The phrase is particularly associated with Hitler and Goebbels, but their original claim was that their political enemies used it as a way of influencing public opinion before going on to use it themselves with murderous effect. Hitler in Mein Kampf accused Marxists and Jews of perpetrating the lie that Germany had lost the War, and more than a decade later Goebbels used the phrase to make the claim that Churchill systematically deceived the British people.
Trump, of course, is associated with the phrase ‘Fake News’ but it can now be seen that he has been an unusually habitual instigator of falsehood. I thought the most blatant demonstration of this was when, in the presence of Putin, he said he preferred the Russian account of their lack of involvement in the 2016 Presidential election to the contrary opinion of his own security forces. When he was back on US soil, he said ‘I mis-spoke’, which demonstrated his casual relationship with truth.
Trump’s big lie has been to say he won the Presidential election without providing any evidence for the claim. For all one knows he believes it, incantation has its hypnotic power. Thank God for an independent judiciary, although Trump did what he could to compromise its integrity. The Republican Party has been reprehensibly slow to condemn this lie, which has to be a stain on US democracy. Bullies should not be indulged, because if they are they become stronger. In Germany in the twenties it was still possible to speak out about anti-semitism. In the thirties to do so would result in arrest, disappearance, death.
Happily, the time is fast approaching, when the emperor Trump, will be acknowledged to have no clothes. But how fragile democracy seems in 2021.