Astonishing Parallels: Nazi Rhetoric and James Dobson
I have been deeply concerned about the inflammatory rhetoric about the civil rights of gays and lesbians. As an example, I was deeply disturbed by the rhetoric of Dr. James Dobson earlier this year when he gave his imprimatur for then-presidential candidate Rick Santorum. Note, it was not his endorsement that troubled me–he has as much right as anyone to exercise his influence during election season. What troubled me was how much his endorsement resembled World War II Nazi propaganda. I think you may be as surprised as I am by the stunning rhetorical parallels between Nazi anti-semitism and Dobson’s anti-homosexualism.
Clarification: James Dobson is Not a Nazi
Note one more thing. The obvious and troubling parallels between Nazi rhetoric and Dobson’s rhetoric do not mean that Dr. James Dobson is a Nazi. Far from it. James Dobson is not a Nazi. The striking similarities serve, however, as a red flag of caution. The effectiveness of propaganda has nothing to do with the essential rightness or truth of the propaganda. I think you will find the parallels as remarkable as I have. We need to listen to the words of Paul when he told us to “Test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.”
Several years ago I found a website, the German Propaganda Archive, where Prof. Randall Bytwerk of Calvin College publishes his translations of Nazi and East German propaganda. When Dr. Dobson made the news in January, 2012, his endorsement of Rick Santorum for president of the United States reminded me again of Germany, the Jews, and propaganda.
I will first compare examples of anti-Jewish propaganda with examples of James Dobson’s anti-homosexual propaganda, and follow that with a few reflections.
In his presidential endorsement last January, Dobson stayed strictly on message, using the reliable and transparent boilerplate rhetoric that has served him faithfully for decades.
The institution of the family is the key issue facing this great nation. It is the foundation, the bedrock, upon which every dimension of Western Civilization rests. If it is undermined or weakened by cultural and governmental forces, the entire superstructure will collapse in short order. And indeed, today it is in serious jeopardy. The very definition of marriage is threatened, which has implications for the next generation and the stability of society itself.
I’ve previously compared the over-the-top language of anti-Jewish Nazi rhetoric and Dobson’s anti-homosexual rhetoric. If you haven’t read it yet, I urge you to read “The Collapse of Civilization: Dobson, Ley, and Goebbels” (click here). Nazi propagandist Robert Ley’s warning against tolerating the Jews is identical to the baseless propaganda routinely parroted by anti-homosexualists.
He who tolerates the Jew, who takes on his customs, who works with him, who adapts his mentality, who eats, drinks, and lives with him, who even thinks the Jew is chosen and believes he can learn something from the Jew, who expects the salvation of the world to come from the Jews, he will inevitably be ruined by Judah.
Astonishing Four-Point Outline, Point for Point
The rhetoric of the Nazis and James Dobson share an astonishing four-point outline describing the enemy’s strategy and the pathetic response of the audience and their compatriots. The outline is rhetorically effective in inflaming carnal feelings of fear, anger, and revenge.
- Apparent Irresistibility of our Foes
- The Forces Arrayed Against Us
- Liberal Government Officials
- Mentions of Cowardice
The Four-Point Outline: Hanns Oberlindober’s “The Decent Jew” and James Dobson’s “The Future of the Family”
The Hanns Oberlindober piece, “The Decent Jew” (1937), was written to ridicule the idea that there could be anything like a “decent Jew,” that the idea of a German Jew was an oxymoron. Each of the four rhetorical elements listed above are all present in both Oberlindober and Dobson, and in the exact order.
The Nazi Version
Hanns Oberlindober writes,
Until the National Socialist takeover in the German Reich, you Jews understood how to clothe yourself with the mantel of (1) irresistibility. With the help of (2) the press, film, advertising, historical misrepresentation and silence about the accomplishments of all other races, you were able to present yourselves as the best, most diligent, smartest, and most noble people in the world, suggesting to an unhappy people bleeding from the thousand wounds of the war that they had to accept the unavoidable joy of Jewish leadership. For decades, you controlled (3) so-called statesmen like puppets, keeping yourself in the background despite your native Jewish vanity. Between you and the peoples, there hung the mystic curtain of your lodges, your so-called religious mission, and your obvious (4) cowardice. But the German people have ripped apart this nimbus of Jewish irresistibility.
James Dobson’s Version
In his July 2001 newsletter, “The State of the Family,” James Dobson uses the identical inflammatory rhetoric, with the identical elements in the identical order.
The forces arrayed against the family are almost (1) irresistible. (2) Homosexual activists, radical feminists, abortion zealots and haters of Christianity have banded together to bring down the old order and substitute their own version of the Brave New World. With the help of the hostile media, the entertainment industry, the ACLU, People for the American Way, the National Education Association, and especially, (3) the liberal judges who are undermining the Judeo-Christian ethic day by day, they have brought the institution of marriage to its knees. Meanwhile, millions of Christians and some of their leaders are still standing around muttering, (4) “Let’s not get political.”
Describing your opponents as “irresistible,” whether or not they are as powerful as you make them seem, paints your struggle in heroic terms. Repeatedly listing the enemy’s forces, conditions your audience and arouses hostile emotions. Likewise, mentioning privileged, allegedly feeble leaders like statesmen and judges not only arouses anger but also stirs up class resentments of your lower-class audience, encouraging them to feel self-righteous and superior to these “so-called” smart guys.
The Penetration of Every Segment of Society
One effective way to create a sense of alarm and fear, to arouse a sense of urgency and helplessness, is to describe how the enemy has penetrated every area of society. One such piece of Nazi propaganda published by the Office of Racial Policy (NSDAP) titled, Why the Aryan Law? (1934). The Aryan Laws were written to eliminate Jews from the civil service, and ultimately from every area of German life and society: military, commerce, industry, banking, and culture. The document contains copious statistics documenting the percentage of Jews in each profession, and highlights the Jews’ successful upward mobility. This is characterized as “overrepresentation,” and is directly aimed at not only reducing Jewish influence, but eliminating it entirely. Similar warnings about the presence of homosexuals and their sympathizers in various fields and professions are scattered throughout James Dobson’s newsletters.
The Nazi Version
The Jewish people, once only tolerated, knew how to raise a hue and cry about discrimination and persecution, winning the sympathy of the world for the “poor Jews.” They increasingly infiltrated deep within our national organism, growing to have power over every single area of our national life.
The numerous moves from the Jewish religion to other faiths can be explained because the Jews seek to gain the advantages of the Aryan population. Using Protestantism, Catholicism or the independent churches as a cover, Jews found easy entrance to high positions in politics, the arts, business and the civil service. The idea that all people were equal was accepted both by conservative and liberal thinking, allowing the incorporation of entirely foreign racial elements. This shows how every level of society was influenced by the thinking of the era.
The Germans kept copious records of people employed in the economy: self-employed workers, medicine, theater, film, radio, education, teaching, public administration, judiciary, attorneys, editors, dentists, etc. They were represented in these categories from 3x to 20x more than their percentage of the total population. The author of Why the Aryan Law? exclaims, “Is that anything other than a Jewdification of our entire cultural system?!”
James Dobson’s Version
James Dobson’s raises the rhetorical alarm about the enemy’s social penetration of various economic sectors in “In Defending Marriage – Take the Offensive!”
The “master plan that has had as its centerpiece the utter destruction of the family…. the objectives that seemed unthinkable just a few years ago have largely been achieved or are now within reach. All that remains is for the movement and its friends in the media, the entertainment industry, the professions, the government and the military, to deliver the coup de grace to a beleaguered institution that was given to humanity by the Creator in the Garden of Eden.”
Dobson doesn’t have the kinds of statistics that were available to the German propagandists, but his intent is identical: paint the threat, arouse alarm, and enlist the energies compliant soldier-sheep against the identified enemies, their fellow citizens.
Attack the Enemy’s Cultural Influence
The Nazi Version
As you recall, Hanns Oberlindober underscores cultural influences:
With the help of the press, film, advertising, historical misrepresentation and silence about the accomplishments of all other races, you were able to present yourselves as the best, most diligent, smartest, and most noble people in the world.
One of the statistical sections in Why the Aryan Laws? zeroes in on major cultural categories, not commerce, industry, and government, but entertainment and education.
Similar statistics are found in the cultural area (theater, film, radio, education, teaching, etc.). The 0.4% of the general population are employed there, 2.6% of the Jews, also about six times as many.
In the section titled, “The Jew in Theater and Film,” we there are further statistics, and a quotation from a non-Nazi Catholic complaint about Jews in the film industry.
The extent of the Jewdification of German theater and film is evident from 1931 figures. Of 234 theater directors, 118 (50.4%) were Jews, 92 (39.3%) were non-Jewish.
Berlin led in this area as well, with 23 of 29 theater directors (80%) Jewish.
The situation in film is similar. The Viennese Catholic periodical “Schönere Zukunft,” which certainly cannot be accused of anti-Semitism, wrote the following in its 3 February 1929 issue:
“The percentage of Jewry in today’s film industry is so high, at least by us in Germany, that there is only a tiny part left for Christian firms.”
James Dobson’s Version
The gay lifestyle is aggressively promoted throughout culture, especially in television sitcoms, Hollywood movies and on university campuses.
The Cowardice of Our Leaders
It is worthwhile to give special attention to the concepts of cowardice and courage in the anti-Jewish and anti-homosexual propaganda. There’s nothing like impugning someone’s manhood to goad them to taking a stand. Likewise, there’s nothing as likely to increase an individual’s sense of self-righteousness as calling them brave when they parrot propaganda. Finally, there’s nothing like letting people know that publicly criticizing individuals as cowards is a socially acceptable way of encouraging “alignment.” (If you need evidence of this, note the remarkable decline of civility in public discourse modeled after the daily trash talk on radio and television.)
The Nazi Version
In his book, The Jewish Question in Education, Fritz Fink writes:
But some teachers still lack the courage to address the Jewish question with enthusiasm. Nervously and shyly they avoid it. To be prepared for inspections, they briefly touch on the Jewish Question now and again. These are the teachers who have in their bones the ideas the Jews propagate of “objectivity, decency and humanity.” These are the teachers who at the behest of the churches display pity and brotherly love to the deadly enemy, even when they sense and see that their own people is being destroyed by this deadly enemy. They are the weaklings, the cowards, those German teachers ruined by foreign powers. They avoid the Jewish question in education but rather than meeting the desire of the child for education and at the same time fulfilling one of their most important tasks.
James Dobson’s Versions, 1998
In his newsletter, “Homosexuals in Hollywood” (1998), James Dobson challenges politicians on their cowardice to act and speak against “homosexual activists.”
How do we explain the lack of moral outrage — or courage — from anyone in Washington, D.C., or on the local level? The answer can be found in the unparalleled political clout of homosexual activists. In the course of two decades, they have succeeded in intimidating Washington, D.C., and most of the rest of the nation. Few dare step in front of the gay and lesbian juggernaut for fear of being labeled “homophobic,” “hateful” or “politically incorrect.”
The question is — how many senators will cave in to pressure from homosexual activists?
In a second newsletter the same year, “The Christian Response to the Homosexual Agenda (June, 1998), Dr. Dobson taunts the clergy for their cowardice, challenging their masculinity.
There is scarcely a politician or a national leader anywhere who has the courage to oppose [the aggressive promotion of the gay lifestyle] publicly. I suspect that many pastors and priests also avoid the subject because of the intimidation factor that has become so pervasive in recent years. It is one subject most influential people are afraid to address, unless, of course, they are echoing pro-homosexual rhetoric.
After identifying the coalition of enemies that has “brought the institution of marriage to its knees,” Dobson caricatures Christians who won’t jump on his bandwagon:
Meanwhile, millions of Christians and some of their leaders are still standing around muttering, “Let’s not get political.”
You know, if Dr. Dobson’s exhortations to political action were just the ravings of an old man in decline, that would be one thing. But when his decades of work are taken in the context of an emotional political-religious movement, his work is, for me, genuinely ominous.
Today we have independent fundamentalist Baptist pastors urging the extermination of gays and lesbians. Calvinist theologian R.J. Rushdoony (1916-2001) was quite popular with the D. James Kennedy, Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, and James Dobson before his company started to be seen as a liability. Rushdoony convincingly argued for the execution of homosexuals: “God in His law requires the death penalty for homosexuals.” As of this writing, twenty-three states have lined up to forbid marriage to gay and lesbian couples. In 2010 the recriminalization of sodomy was made a plank in the Texas Republican Party.
Some readers will take exception to comparing James Dobson’s rhetoric with that of Nazi anti-semitic propaganda. I have shied away from making such dramatic comparisons, as I don’t want to mimic the alarmist rhetoric of people like James Dobson.
I must confess, however, that I am not just grieved that fundamentalist preachers can mouth such foolish and hateful rhetoric. I am concerned that James Dobson’s call for “moral outrage” will work its destructive work long after he has gone to be with his Maker. And I have to ask myself, ”What am I going to do about this?”
(All German propaganda cited with permission of Randall Bytwerk, Nazi and East German Propaganda)
Additional posts on James Dobson:
- James Dobson, Enough of Your unBiblical Propaganda — Hebrew Marriage Practiced with God’s Blessing and Provision