Lucas criticized for Nazi quote on social media

SEYMOUR — Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, is being criticized for sharing a quote on Facebook that is widely attributed to Joseph Goebbels, the chief Nazi propagandist under Adolf Hitler.

The controversy stems from a cover photo that Lucas briefly posted on his personal Facebook page, according to a screenshot and social media post shared on Monday by Chad Harmon, Lucas’ Democratic opponent in the November election. The screenshot of Lucas’ profile included a quote about the state using propaganda to spread lies, Goebbels’ name and a link titled “the Jewish question.”

The quote read as follows: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

The reference to Goebbels, however, quickly drew criticism. Harmon, who is the Democratic nominee for Indiana House District 69, expressed disbelief that Lucas would quote Goebbels, stating in a social media post, “After running against Jim Lucas for a while now, it’s hard to surprise me anymore, but today he literally changed his cover photo to a quote from Nazi Joseph Goebbels. This is a sitting Indiana State representative quoting a Nazi.”

The CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute condemned Lucas on Wednesday in a written statement, calling Goebbels “a purveyor of hate speech” and urging Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston to condemn Lucas.

“We are shocked and horrified that an Indiana lawmaker would make such a statement about Hitler’s chief architect and purveyor of hate speech, ultimately leading to the murder of over 6 million Jews in the Holocaust,” the museum said in a statement Wednesday. “Hate propaganda was the driving force behind the Holocaust, and these seeds of hate have been, and are being planted, today in the United States.”

Lucas told The Republic that he doesn’t understand why the Nazi quote would upset people, saying it is a “factural historical quote from a person that was part of one of the most evil regimes on Earth, explaining how evil takes hold and is allowed to develop.”

“It’s very disheartening to see so many people either unwilling or incapable of reason (or) intellectually honest thought, and the first thing they do is just jump to character assassination on things like this,” Lucas said. “I simply posted a historical quote without comment, and the next thing you know I get called a Nazi. That one particular post had less than 10 likes, and I think five or six comments, and here it is getting media attention. And it’s sad that … we can even have a rational, reasonable civil discussion on factual history without immediately attacking the messenger.”

When asked what prompted him to post the quote on Facebook, Lucas said, “Look at what’s going on in America in our own government. Our own government is openly lying to us.” However, Lucas also said during the interview that he was not “comparing our American government to the Nazi government,” adding “that’s where too many people have lost their ability to reason and think logically.”

Lucas said the alleged “lies” he was referring to were related to, among other things, COVID-19 vaccines, public health measures adopted during the pandemic and the federal Inflation Reduction Act that was recently signed into law by President Joe Biden.

In a separate Facebook post on Wednesday, Lucas shared an article published by Stand for Health Freedom, a non-profit that was co-founded by Sayer Ji, who is a member of the “Disinformation Dozen,” a group of 12 people who the Center for Countering Digital Hate has said were at one point responsible for nearly two-thirds of COVID-19 misinformation online.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate is a non-profit that seeks to counter hate and disinformation, including anti-vaccine advocates, according to its website.

The article shared by Lucas on Wednesday compared the rise of Hitler in Germany in the 1930s to COVID-19 mask mandates, lockdowns and vaccinations — questioning “might we be headed down a similar path” as Nazi Germany.

“The Nazis began by slowly gaining the trust of the German people,” the article states. “And they did it by seemingly caring for them … Once voted into government, however, the Nazis began availing themselves of ‘emergency powers,’ soon showing their true colors. …Similarly, we now find ourselves in a post-war situation of sorts. Coming out of COVID, with soaring prices, supply chain issues, a lack of workers and economic devastation for many. And our government, claiming similar emergency powers, has been ‘protecting’ us by mandating masks, lockdowns, and injections.”