My first introduction as a kid to Hitler's "big lie" concept
I am inspired to write this entry thanks to scubadiver's question, to the community, in my previous blog entry, about our favorite authors. While I have quite a few, one lifelong one who sticks out is Roald Dahl, of children's novel fame, particularly Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. He also wrote some titillating adult novels.
As we all know the "big lie," a term coined by Hitler in his autobiography, roughly goes: The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it. As a corollary, it should also be noted that the bigger the lie, or the more monstrous the crime, the less likely people will want to know about it, or at least know the real truth.
My introduction to this concept came via Roald Dahl's children's novel Matilda. The story centers around a child genius who bears the book's title as her name. She's roughly first grade age, and it is her first year at school. Her school's name is "Crunchem Hall." The principal, or headmistress, is named "Miss Trunchbull." She is the textbook example of a gigantic holy terror (even parents and teachers are frightened of her) as exemplified by this illustration:
Miss Trunchbull has a pet peeve against ponytails ("pig tails" in merry old England). One day at recess, she targets a most unfortunate girl named Amanda Thripp:
And orders Amanda to "chop of her pigtails and throw them in the dustbin!" before the next day.
When poor Amanda nervously stammers back. "B..b...but... my mummy likes them." Miss Trunchbull barks back: "I don't give a tinker's toot to what your mummy thinks!"
At that point grabs the girl by the ponytails and picks her up, then begins to spin her whole body round and round in a circle, and like fan blades, the girl becomes a blur; needless to say, the girl is screaming bloody murder, and the entire playground of children is watching, spellbound. Then to conclude, Miss Trunchbull lets go of the girl on an upward trajectory and the girl shoots off like a rocket hundreds of feet, clear over the playground fence and into the open field beyond.
Watching the whole scene are Matilda and her friend Lavender. Here is the conversation that ensues:
"How can she get away with it?" Lavender said to Matilda. "Surely the children go home and tell
their mothers and fathers. I know my father would raise a terrific stink if I told him the
Headmistress had grabbed me by the hair and slung me over the playground fence."
"No, he wouldn't," Matilda said, "and I'll tell you why. He simply wouldn't believe you."
"Of course he would."
"He wouldn't," Matilda said. "And the reason is obvious. Your story would sound too ridiculous to
be believed. And that is the Trunchbull's great secret."
"What is?" Lavender asked.
Matilda said, "Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the
whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it's unbelievable. No parent is
going to believe this pigtail story, not in a million years. Mine wouldn't. They'd call me a liar."
"In that case", Lavender said, "Amanda's mother isn't going to cut her pigtails off."
"No, she isn't," Matilda said. "Amanda will do it herself. You see if she doesn't."
When I first woke up to 9/11 being an inside job, one of the very first things my mind thought of was the above scene and ensuing conversation. Just as most parents of first graders would find it extremely difficult to believe a principal could be so unimaginably cruel and insane, most "dyed in the wool" Americans (including myself at first, and too many still to this day) would "not in a million years" believe that their own leaders could be so unimaginably cruel and insane as to kill 3,000 people for money, oil, and power.