How a Nazi Slur for 'Fake News' Became an Alt-Right Rallying Cry - 2017-10-08
BERLIN—Lügenpresse—lying press—is a word with a very particular pedigree in Germany that's been adopted by wingnuts on the right in the United States and tossed around as a novel way to say "fake news" or, indeed, "f*** you, reporters." It rang out in the streets of Charlottesville in August, and it pops up often in the twittersphere.
That it echoes the rhetoric of the Nazis is sadly appropriate to the present, when ideologues try to own the "truth" by branding all others as purveyors of lies. It's a pattern we've seen solidly established even (and especially) in the White House, where an administration that came to office by claiming Barack Obama was born in Kenya, three million illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton, and the inauguration of Donald Trump saw the biggest crowd ever, now lectures professional reporters about their "responsibility to tell the truth."
George Orwell, long before he wrote his nightmare novel of totalitarianism, 1984, noted that a special contribution of the Nazis was to destroy the very notion of commonly accepted facts. "Nazi theory," Orwell wrote in 1942, "specifically denies that such a thing as 'the truth' exists. There is, for instance, no such thing as 'science.' There is only 'German science,' 'Jewish science,' etc. The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such an event, 'It never happened'—well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five—well, two and two are five."