Facebook memes get it wrong (again)

I try to pay as little attention to social media as I can, other than what my employers require (they’ve given me a company smart phone...

I try to pay as little attention to social media as I can, other than what my employers require (they’ve given me a company smart phone and I have to take care of the Pipestone Flyer Facebook page…I try to keep it at that). It just so happens this week Facebook presented something of concern to me.

If you know what a “meme” is, you may have seen a little Facebook cartoon that posits “There are good Christians and Bad Christians,” with a drawing of Martin Luther King Jr. as a “Good Christian,” and Adolf Hitler as a “Bad Christian.” Once again, Facebook gets it wrong.

Adolf Hitler wasn’t a Christian. In fact, the Nazi dictator in his memoir “Mien Kampf” clearly stated he despised Christianity for its “feminine pity ethics” and that Germany would succeed by embracing an “only-the-strong-survive” brand of pagan ancestor worship mixed with 19th century occultism topped off with 1920’s eugenics. This is the same philosophy and religion the Nazi leadership followed.

At the end of the 19th century Europe was fascinated by spiritualism and occultism; that is, ghosts and demons. Amidst this milieu came Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, a spiritualist who wrote several new age books including one that described the history of many “root races” that populated earth before mankind with not a shred of proof to back it up. One of these root races, the Aryans, were, according to Blavatsky, psychic god-men who fell from grace after interbreeding with subhumans (this comic book story becomes important later).

Concurrently, Austrian mystic Guido von List espoused an intense pro-German, anti-Semitic nationalism that included worship of the pagan god Odin and making war on all other nations of the world. His justification? Germans were actually the Aryans, masters of the occult and the rightful rulers of the world.

Following along a few years later was author Houston Stewart Chamberlain, a ferocious anti-Semite who wrote a book called “The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century.” This book claimed perfect civilizations, like Atlantis, were destroyed by jealous subhumans called Jews. In fact, Chamberlain’s book blames virtually every problem Europe faced at the time on Jews.

Also admired at this time was a renegade Cistercian monk named Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels who published a magazine called “Ostara, newsletter of the blonde and masculists,” dedicated to “blue-blond Aryanism” and attacking “lower races.”

Finally, the 1920’s saw a horribly cold-blooded theory sweep the world, the “science” of eugenics. Encouraged by psychopaths like Englishman Francis Galton, eugenics proposed to create a better “class” of human being by selective breeding; of course, the lower classes (the poor, the insane, the infirm, the sickly, the addict) must be exterminated, or at the very least sterilized. If you think we in North America can look down at our European friends for embracing eugenics, consider this: In 1928 the Alberta legislature passed the Sexual Sterilization Act, “to protect the gene pool,” which gave the government the ability to neuter human beings. Almost 4,800 people were sterilized under this law and it was still on the books in Alberta until 1972.

These factors created the bizarre religion Hitler and all other Nazis followed while Germany’s defeat in World War I cemented the deal: according to Hitler, democrats, communists and Jews stabbed Germany in the back to ensure the Aryans never reclaimed their birthright. Following in the years to come would be World War II and the Holocaust all instigated by the imagination of mystics, ravings of bigots and the doctrines of the occult.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s crazy…how could they buy into this? It could never happen again, could it? It did. A Japanese cult called Aum Shinrikyo surfaced in the 1990s with a Nazi-like philosophy.

Sadly, this is the power and influence that cults, celebrities, fraud organizations, bigots, fad-obsessed politicians, occultists and fiction writers can have on our society.

And, of course, cartoon artists who drop memes on Facebook.

Stu Salkeld is the editor of The Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.