Ethics Alarms Ethics Check: Did Joe Biden Call Ted Cruz And Josh Hawley “Nazis”? [Revised]

Big Lie

I don’t do factchecks, I do ethics checks. Both GOP Senators Ted Cruz and and Josh Hawley have leaped on a Joe Biden attack and said that the President Elect called them “Nazis.” Many conservative pundits and websites have similarly accused Biden of the ultimate “otherizing.”

Biden did not call Cruz and Hawley Nazis.

He told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, where Joe is God,

“They should be just flat beaten the next time they run. The American public has a real good, clear look at who they are. They’re part of the big lie.Goebbels and the great lie. You keep repeating the lie, repeating the lie.”

Because Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Hitler defined the Big Lie tactic–that’s what Biden is referring to when he says “Goebbels and the great lie”— and though they authored one of the biggest Big Lies of all time, saying that a politician or a political party is using the Big Lie tactic cannot be the equivalent of calling that politician Hitler, Goebbels, or a Nazi. The reason is that long before the two Nazi propaganda experts mastered the Big Lie, it had been used extensively for centuries, and it has been used ever since often with great effectiveness, always unethically, by parties and politicians who could not possibly be called Nazis in their beliefs, policies, values or methods. The Big Lie is now a standard political weapon. The idea is to make a public assertion that is so horrifying and outlandish that the public demands that it be denied by its target, and argued about. The genius of the Big Lie tactic is that forcing the argument itself gives the Big Lie credibility. The approach of simply ignoring Big Lies and saying by word or action, “That doesn’t even justify a rebuttal, and I won’t dignify it with one” usually doesn’t work.

I swear, the first example of this that jumped into my head was Harry Reid’s intentional slur during the 2012 Presidential campaign that Mitt Romney had paid no taxes for the previous decade. When asked about his Big Lie after the election, Reid answered, “Romney didn’t win, did he?”

The Big Lie tactic is all about the ends justifying the means.

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