Disability and Propaganda

Reblogged from mindinflux:

“Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position.

As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented.

The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda. Propaganda can be used as a form of political warfare.” Wikipedia


March 1914. Exhibition of the Reichsausschuss für Volksgesundheit (Reich Committee for National Health)

“Three-year old boy, deaf, crippled and completely idiotic. The nursing costs amounting to 8 Marks a day”,

Newspaper Article 1939.

“You have the duty to be healthy for the nation and the state”

Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 3

“It [Christian Social Party] recognized the value of large-scale propaganda and was a virtuoso in influencing the psychological instincts of the broad masses of its adherents.”

Victoria Brignell

“The Nazis claimed that the existence of disabled people weakened society’s ability to operate efficiently and that the social and economic problems Germany suffered in the 1920s and 30s were partly caused by the burden of supporting disabled people.”

Translation: 60,000 Reich marks. What this person suffering from is hereditary defects costs the People’s community during his lifetime. Comrade, that is your money too.

Translation: “Mentally ill Negro (English) 16 years in an institution costing 35,000 Reichsmarks”

A poster showing the belief that the “inferiority traits” are passed on more easily than “high value traits”.

Residents in an asylum. Translation: “Life only as a burden”.

Nazi propaganda slide contrasting how far 5.50 German Marks will go. The cost of feeding one person with a hereditary disease for one day is the same as it would cost to feed an entire family of healthy Germans.

Concentration Camp badges. The black triangle was used for sick and disabled people. The word arbeitsscheu means workshy.


Newspaper Article 2010

“Hundreds of thousands of scroungers in the UK are robbing hard-working Sun readers of their cash. They cannot be bothered to find a job or they claim to be sick when they are perfectly capable of work because they prefer to sit at home watching widescreen TVs – paid for by YOU.”

Newspaper Article 2010

SCROUNGERS who play the system to milk incapacity benefit will be placed on the dole and made to hunt for work, it emerged yesterday.

David Cameron

“…it’s maddening to know there are some people who could work but just don’t want to. You know the people I mean. You walk down the road on your way to work and you see the curtains drawn in their house. You know they could work, but they choose not to.”

Recent Daily Mail Article on cuts to benefits. “Feet up: Claimants will lose their disability benefits as the public spending cuts bite (Posed by model)”

BBC Article 26th October

“Three of Britain’s churches have accused Chancellor George Osborne of exaggerating the scale of benefit fraud in last week’s spending review speech.
Mr Osborne told MPs £5bn was unlawfully claimed in welfare payments every year.
But an alliance of three UK churches has pointed out that the government’s own fraud figures are far lower. 
The Methodist and United Reformed Churches, and the Baptist Union, said the £5bn figure Mr Osborne quoted in his spending review speech wrongly depicted the poorest and most vulnerable in society as thieves 
The report published by the DWP this month, entitled Tackling Fraud and Error in the Benefits and Tax Credits Systems, used figures which showed that, overall, £5.2bn is lost due to fraud and error every year. 
However, those figures are then broken down again. 
They show that around a third of welfare benefit over-payments, amounting to £1bn, are due to recipients committing fraud, with the remaining £2.2bn being due to genuine error on the part of officials or recipients. 
There are more than £2bn worth of over-payments annually in tax credits, but the DWP report stated that most of that – 78% – was also due to error. 
Overall, say the churches, the government’s own figures show that welfare fraud accounts for only £1.6bn. They questioned why the chancellor used an incorrect figure when laying out his spending review in the House of Commons. 
The Revd Graham Sparks, who is head of faith and unity at the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said there was already wide concern over the cuts in spending. 
“This misuse of figures to exaggerate the scale of benefit fraud only adds to the sense of injustice,” he said.”

DWP figures released 25th October 2010:

For new ESA claims from October 2008 to February 2010, the breakdown is:
  • Support Group (for those who cannot work now or in the foreseeable future and need unconditional support) – 6%
  • Work Related Activity Group (for those who cannot work now but with the right help could work in the foreseeable future) – 15%
  • Fit for Work – 39%

  • Claim closed before assessment complete or assessment still in process– 39%

DWP Press Release 25th October:”Three-quarters of people applying for the new Employmentand Support Allowance programme (ESA) are being found fit for work after undergoing the Work Capability Assessment or stop their claim.”

Actual Percentage being found fit for work = 39%

Daily Mail Front Page 27th October 2010:

I am emphatically not saying that the government, media, or any person within them are akin to Nazis.

Rather that propaganda is being used, with various levels of subtlety, and has been used for some time (by the previous Labour government too), to link the idea of sick or disabled people with being a financial burden on society, with being scroungers, with being workshy.

The government and the media are being selective in how they disseminate information.
This changes the attitude of the general public to the disabled, even if the comments are not specifically aimed at those who are genuinely unable to work.

Even when an article is talking about people commiting benefit fraud, it is again linking the idea of sickness with being workshy. Misleading headlines such as the Daily Mail one today makes the general public think that a very large percentage of people are pretending to be sick in order to claim benefits and live an easy life.

Resentment towards the disabled people in our society is created.

This then allows the cutting of disability benefits with little public outcry. (Compare outcry over cuts in child benefit to top 15% of earners, with limiting sickness benefits to 12 months, 20% cut in DLA, or removal of DLA to those in care homes.)

But it is likely to have other even less desirable effects, with the attitude of many members of the public to vulnerable sick and disabled people having been fundamentally altered. Disabled people are already more likely to be victims of violence or harrassment than non disabled. “Forty-seven per cent of disabled people have either experienced physical abuse or had witnessed physical abuse of a disabled companion” (Scope)

Additionally many disabled people already feel like a burden on society. And many feel scapegoated by the government and media campaign against benefit fraud. The campaign is affecting them, whether or not it is intending too. There are forums and groups springing up on the internet to allow people to share their stories and talk about their fears.

More information about the Nazi Euthanasia Program

“Artist and activist Liz Crow sat on the plinth in a crowded Saturday night Trafalgar Square on her wheelchair wearing full Nazi regalia to draw attention to a hidden history and the message it holds for us all today. Seventy years ago, the Nazis instituted their first official programme of murder. It targeted disabled people and became the blueprint for the Final Solution to wipe out Jews, gay people, gypsies and other social groups.” http://www.roaring-girl.com/resistance-on-the-plinth

At least 200,000 mentally or physically disabled patients, mainly Germans, living in institutional settings, were murdered in the so-called Euthanasia Program.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

New Statesman Article by Victoria Brignell

The Significance of the Black Triangle