The big lie about the Big Lie is that it is just one lie. It is instead a kind of cluster bomb of deceptions, prevarications, distortions, untruths, fabrications, falsehoods, misrepresentations, and other forms of Trumpist mendacity.
The Big Lie, of course, refers to the myth, promoted by former President of the United States Donald Trump and his supporters, that he actually won last November’s election. It is based on the demonstrably untrue assertion, rejected by more than three dozen courts, that President Joe Biden’s victory was the result of widespread election fraud.
You might believe the Big Lie is called that to distinguish it from the 30,573 lies the Washington Post’s Fact Checker counted Trump making during his single term in office. But actually the term dates back much further in history. The term made an appearance, in fact, in Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, in which he asserted it was a tool employed by Viennese Jews in their critiques of the Germans during World War I. In what would later be seen as a particularly pernicious act of projection, Hitler wrote that “in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility, because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus I the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie…” Later, the technique of exploiting big lies became so commonplace as part of the propaganda efforts of the Nazi regime that Hitler’s propaganda czar, Joseph Goebbels, has been frequently associated with the statement “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” (Appropriately, there is no actual evidence that Goebbels said this even if he lived it in his daily actions on behalf of the Nazi regime.)