The main worry when the last British World War I veteran Tommy Patch died in 2009, at the ripe old age of 111, was that it would make it easier for us all to forget the horrors of war. With no living survivor left, there would be no first-hand experience of that bloody encounter, and it would fade into history, to be forgotten, and then repeated.
However, a striking experiment by two Twitter accounts suggests that, 70 years on from the end of the Second World War, we are in danger of doing just that - forgetting the lessons learned from that dark episode of human history too.
Twitter users Daily Mail Comments (@Bestofthemail) and The DM Reporter (@dmreporter) usually indulge in pointing out the more ridiculous and laughable comments left on the Daily Mail's website, together with the manifold hypocrisy of much of that esteemed organ's reporting. However, a recent experiment exposed a rather darker side of the site and some of its readers.
They had noticed the increasing use of hate-filled language used towards immigrants, particularly in the light of the recently-reported events in Calais and the choice of words used by the likes of Katie Hopkins ("cockroaches") and David Cameron ("swarms") such as the below examples:
They then decided to see exactly how far they could push the type of language used before they got called out by fellow commenters. And the results were profoundly depressing.
Using adapted pieces of famous Nazi propaganda (changing the word "Jew" into "migrant"), they posted them up and waited for the response. A few were blocked by moderators but "most of them made it through". And at the most recent count, the eight comments had attracted 480 upvotes (positive reaction) and just 16 downvotes (negative reaction). Here are four examples:
Original: “In this struggle against Judah, there’s only a clear either/or. Any half measure leads to one’s own destruction. Judah and its world must die if humanity wants to live; there is no other choice than to fight a pitiless battle against the Jews in every form”. The Pestilential Miasma of the World by Robert Ley
Original: “If the Jew wants to fight, it is fine with us. We have wanted that fight for a long time. There is no room in the world for the Jews any more. The Jew or us, one of us will have to go”. The Jews or Us by Robert Ley
Original: “The Almighty has never helped a lazy man. He does not help the coward. He does not help a people that cannot help itself. The principle applies here”. Adolf Hitler: Broadcast to the German People On The Winter Help Scheme
“This battle is not fought to its end, then take a look at the peoples five hundred years from now. I think you will find but few images of God,” — Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
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