May 19, 2003

This Hermann Goering Quote Has

This Hermann Goering Quote Has Been Bothering Me

I try to keep up with the anti-Iraq-war and anti-war-on-terror viewpoints because, as much as I continually believe I'm always right, I'm willing to acquiesce that sometimes, occasionally, other people may have something compelling to say that could change my mind. I thought such an occurence came about about a month ago when this Hermann Goering quote started making appearances all over the blogosphere.

Goering, for those unfamiliar with history, was the Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe in Nazi Germany during World War II. He said:

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

The emphasis here, of course, is usually provided by the folks who plop this quote on their blogs, and they wave this as proof that the Bush Jr. administration is dragging the U.S. along the same simple formula. As I've said before, I'm no huge fan of the Bush administration. Until they pull this economy out of the muck and start addressing, successfully, some of the problems here at home, that Texan won't earn my vote in '04.

However, the real Bush haters, the ones who feel he stole an election and simply wages war for oil, are determined to transmogrify the man into a short angry leader with a wispy cookie duster moustache and a bad combover. They cry fascism any time the terror alert system clicks up a notch or a celebrity is chastised for blowing their ignorant blather.

First, it should be noted that Goering was not a professional propagandist. That honor fell to Joseph Goebbels. Second, Goering did not utter that infamous quote during testimony at the Nuremburg Trials, as many believe. Rather, he was engaged in debate, while sitting in his cell, with an individual named Gustave Gilbert. Gilbert, who was given free access to the inmates awaiting sentencing, kept a journal of his conversations with the prisoners. So, in other words, you essentially have a condemned man, who is not a professional propagandist, lamenting his fate to whoever will listen, trying to deflect blame for his murderous role in history. Goering was not exactly an authority on anything at that point, in my opinion.

But, let me pick apart the quote itself.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.

Well, not really. If there's one thing that Vietnam taught us, it's that people aren't necessarily mindless cows being trotted out to pasture and back. But, that was Vietnam. If we were to take Goering at his word here, today, with the Iraq conflict and the war on terror, we should have seen the resurrection of the draft with everyone clamboring to grab a rifle. But, that didn't happen.

All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.

The major problem here is that we weren't just TOLD we were being attacked. We WERE attacked. 9/11 wasn't some fluke navigational error. It was a coordinated assault on our home soil and our very way of life, and if you don't believe that, you've been watching too much American Idol and refusing to acknowledge the realities of the world today. If you really, truly, honestly believe that dreadful day was an isolated incident that couldn't possibly happen again, you seriously need a big steaming mug of "wake the fuck up."

As for denouncing pacifists, the sword cuts both ways here. Well, yeah, pacifists have been denounced, but at the same time, war-proponents are subject to criticism, too. How many "peaceful" protests have turned ugly when the protestors tossed a rock through a store window sporting a "Liberate Iraq" sign, and how many 9/11 memorials have been defiled by the same?

The crushing of dissent in both camps is alive and well, but you primarily hear about anti-war folks being denounced because, more often then not, they're high-profile celebrities spewing ignorance. Where do they get the idea that they're somehow an authority on anything but acting? I can just about imagine the repercussions if I were to use this magazine's weekly editorial meetings to ascend the pulpit and use the entire hour to spout off about the war. I certainly HOPE my co-workers would tell me to shut up and sit down, because it's not my job to express my opinions on world affairs; it's my job to write about high technology news. The same goes for celebs. Their job is to act, not subject everyone to their half-formed ideas about how the government works or doesn't work.

Take the Goering quote however you will, but I tend to view it as a stream-of-consciousness uttering from a desperate and destroyed man, not as an ominious denunciation of the current war on terror.

Posted by Ryan at May 19, 2003 12:04 PM

Hey Ryan,

Interesting article. I think you've missed the point of the quote, though: sure, America was attacked - but not by the Iraqis.

On a related note, aren't celebs and tech writers voting citizens too? I think that does actually entitle them to express their opinions on government policy.


Posted by: Chris at June 10, 2004 02:38 PM


I think you are missing the point.

America was attacked on 9/11 by Radical Ialamists.

If you think that Iraq has nothing to do with Radical Islamists.....then you were obviously born and raised on Mars.


Posted by: Buzz at June 29, 2004 12:30 PM

The US was really attacked, but that's besides the point. People try to attack countries every day, both domestic and foregn terrorism exists in the US. It doesn't even matter if the attack was allowed to take place, as I believe, or if it was just a lucky shot for the terrorists. This War will not stop terrorism, it has nothing to do with that. The rich leaders don't care if the poor farmers or even the poor bussinessmen get killed or not, they care only about personal gain. Bush is Just using fear to trump up nationalism, disguised as patriotism, for his personal ends, that have little to do with making the world free, as free means without control and rule. Bush wants to tighten the rules on the world and put his ideal US at the top. That is not freedom, it's one world fascism.

Iraq was a secular nation, it has nothing to do with radical islam, any more than America has to do with radical christianity. Just because Jerry Fowlwell lives in the US, doesn't mean that the US supports his beliefs.

Posted by: Jay at August 6, 2004 03:44 AM
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