When I first posted about the Hitler quote on Nate Bell’s facebook, I remarked that “So far, this story isn’t media related (although it will be interesting if and how the media report on it – especially the fact that the quote is a fabrication)”. That turned out to be right on the mark. If the issue has been reported at all, it was mostly assumed that the quote is authentic (Arkansas Online, Arkansas News, Tolbert Report). John Brummett refers to a “supposed Hitler quote” but doesn’t clarify the fact that it is a fabrication.
Does it matter, when a politician puts a quote said to be from Hitler on facebook, whether it is authentic or not? Recall that this quote was specifically fabricated for the very purpose that Bell used it: to insinuate an affinity between liberals and Nazis. A Rabbi Daniel Lapin invented the quote in a fictional letter in 2004:
I [the fictional Hitler] said that as long as we explain how the government is working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation. It is truly heartwarming to see how well this lesson has been learned by some Americans. In the name of “the children,” incursions into the private lives of American citizens have been made that we Nazis would have gazed at with open-mouthed admiration.
To be sure, even if the quote somehow were authentic (and Hitler may have said all sorts of things), it would be outrageous to use it in the way Bell (and Lapin) used it. How genuinely deranged does a person have to be to liken traffic restrictions to Nazi death camps?
But the fact it’s a fabrication matters for two reasons:
1. Right-wingers fabricate Hitler quotes in order to use them as propaganda tools, and
2. Nate Bell would believe anything he reads on the internet.
One would think that any journalist, when reporting or commenting on such a matter, would invest a few seconds in a google search to find out about the quote in question. One would be wrong.