Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fabricated Luther/ William Shirer

Today, I realized why I found Sienmon-Netto's book so hard to read over the summer. It is the same reason I found it hard today to survey John Toland's tome on Hitler. It is all far too upsetting. It put me in a terrible mood for the entire day. The suffering, the totalitarianism, the loss of life, the idiocy of mankind, the evil, the manipulation, the pride, the insanity... It takes a toll, just thinking about it.

Seeing that William Shirer is referenced numerous times in the index and Goerderle never, made me look up all the passages where Shirer is mentioned. He was the American correspondent who was personally present at many pivotal events. He was an eye-witness for certain types of events such as Hitler rallies and things happening at the top. That's all I can glean from this source. I'm sure we could easily find out much more that would be interesting.

Sienmon-Netto writes this that mentions him in chapter one:

But this leas us to questions that must be pondered in a study of the phenomenon of cliche thinking: Does modernity allow for differentiated view? Can a media society function without cliches? Would Shirer's work have been a global success had he written, 'Well, yes, there were Germans who misunderstood Luther and therefore did not resist the Nazis and who became Nazis themselves; and there were other Germans whose internalized Lutheranism guided them in the opposite direction and made them choose the path of resistance and martyrdom'?

Shirer knew many of the latter variety of Germans. He knew Carl Goerdeler, who will be the focus of a long chapter in this volume. Did Shirer not see that it was Goerdeler, rather than Hitler's fellow travelers, who acted in a truly Lutheran fashion? Or was Shirer insufficiently informed about Luther and about Hitler? Or did he not want to know? Like Shirer, I am a veteran foreign correspondent familiar with the pressures and constraints of our trade, and that makes it impossible for me to slam him. Too great is the temptation to reach into your stock of cliches if your job compels you to explain strange societies to readers and listeners who are unfamiliar with such subjects.

It reminds us of the soundbites we get for our newscasts on television, these days--unless it has to do with an accident or a starlet; THEN we get incredible detail. The more inane the story the more we learn about it. Sickening.

Anyhow, Siemon-Nettos explanation of the work of the journalist makes sense to some degree.

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