Irena Sendler and Al Gore: the Propaganda Machine Is at it Again

Patriot Notes

IT'S BEEN A WHILE SINCE my last post about a propaganda email, but the one I received today deserves some comment.

It's both subtle and unbelievably nasty.

It begins with a very sweet picture of an old woman smiling, and reads, in part:

Look at this lady - Let us never forget!

The world hasn't just become's always been wicked. The prize doesn't always go to the most deserving.

Irena Sendler
There recently was a death of a 98 year-old lady named Irena.
During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist.
She had an 'ulterior motive'.
She KNEW what the Nazi's plans were for the Jews (being German).
Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried and she carried in the back of her truck a burlap sack, (for larger kids).
She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.
The soldiers of course wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.
During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants.
She was caught, and the Nazi's broke both her legs, arms and beat her severely.
Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard.
After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it and reunited the family.
Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.
Last year Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize.
She was not selected.
Al Gore won --- for a slide show on Global Warming.

The second half of the email—almost as long as the part above—declares that it is a "memorial chain" designed to help make sure that the world never forgets the Holocaust.

It goes into some detail about the horrors of the Holocaust, and urges the readers to do their part by continuing the memorial chain.

So what's wrong with that?

The answer, of course, is that there is nothing at all wrong with a chain letter designed to remind people of the Holocaust—and certainly nothing wrong with a chain letter designed to spread the story of this brave woman.

There is, however, something terribly wrong with using both our emotions about the Holocaust and our admiration of Irena's courage and love to make two cheap political shots look high minded and moral.

If you look at the structure of the email, you'll notice that it is, quite intentionally, not what it seems:

  1. Opening thesis statement: The world hasn't just become's always been wicked. The prize doesn't always go to the most deserving.

    This tells the reader, up front, what the email is really about.
  2. Irena's story.

    This is told as background information to the claim in the thesis.
  3. The punch-line: Last year Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was not selected. Al Gore won --- for a slide show on Global Warming.

    As is common with these propaganda pieces, the punch-line leaves the actual conclusion implied. If the reader has to make the connection for his or herself, he or she is more likely to believe it.

    The conclusion we're supposed to draw has several parts:
    1. Al Gore didn't deserve the peace prize.
    2. Irena did deserve the peace prize.
    3. Al Gore got the peace prize for reasons that are "wicked" in some sense.
    4. The Nobel Committee is somehow implicated in all of this.
    5. The Nobel Committee and Al Gore are thus on the side of "wickedness", along with the Nazi's, and Irena and the reader on on the side of goodness, along with the author of the email.
    6. Which brings us full circle to explain the opening thesis.
  4. After the punch-line, and after those subtle conclusions have been thoroughly implied, a long bit about the holocaust is added.

    This is designed to do three things:
    1. Distract the readers from the message that has just been planted, before they have time to question it,
    2. Solidify the connection between the readers and the author—what kind of person isn't going to agree that the Holocaust was horrible?
    3. Motivate the readers to send this viral message on to its next victims.

      In the process, the email suddenly transforms itself from a story about how "The prize doesn't always go to the most deserving" and a cheap shot at Al Gore, to a high-minded "memorial chain" about the holocaust.

It's a very subtle, and very sleazy, little piece of brainwashing.

The readers are left with the vague impression that there are two sides to the world—good people, like themselves, who pass on "memorial chains" and care about people like Irena, and "wicked" people, like the Nazi's and the Nobel Peace Prize Committee and Al Gore.

Most readers won't even know that a criteria for the Peace Prize is being involved in significant activities during the past two years, and that therefore she didn't even qualify by the basic rules, at the time.

Most readers will believe the email's silly allegation that Gore won the prize for his slide show.

After all, that's what he's most famous for.

They won't bother to find out that it was for all of his "efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."

Was the slide show, and the book, part of that? Sure. And that's bad because...?

But the worst thing about this email is the disrespectful attitude the author takes toward Irena's heroism and the victims of the Holocaust.

If the author wants to take a cheap shot at Al Gore, or the Nobel Committee, that's fine.

But it's not fine to use this woman's courage, or the sorrows of holocaust survivors, as a screen for cheap propaganda tricks.

People have real emotions about these things, and it's not appropriate to use those emotions to manipulate them for slick political ends.

Irena is proof enough that the world is not uniformly wicked.

This email is proof enough that some people are.

At least, that's what I think today.


Nonsense.  An individual can decide for themselves if  they think a person is worthy or unworthy of a peace prize based on their merits. I think your analysis is weak, and you are over inflated to think people are ignorant as to not know this stirs an emotional response.

Not if the individual has no idea what the criteria are for the prize in the first place. An emotional response usually EXACTLY means that people are NOT thinking about what they are doing. They 'feel' that it is right, so it must be... even when it is easily verifiable as false.

Almost everything you notice or mention has validity. They still should not have awarded Al Gore OR Barack Obama a Nobel Prize. Neither deserved it. I think THAT defines and informs just about anything you ar trying to expose here. The poster was ulterior. So are you. 

Excellent topic and discussion. Another point that is being discussed among Polish American bloggers: Irena Sendler was not German, she was Polish. It's a sore point for us because we are trying to counteract the propaganda that all Poles are anti-Semitic.

Keep up the good work for truth in media.

Many deserving men got the nobel peace prize:

Mohamed ElBaradei - single handedly moving Iran to nuclear capabilities simply by not doing his job.

Barack Hussein Obama - for not being George Bush.

Yasser Arafat - For being a terrorist, and taking pride on bus explosions.

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev - for being a puppet of the later on rising to power KGB agents, I lived in USSR exactly at the times of perestroyka and saw the lie from the inside.

Shirin Ebadi - a lawyer in Iran who was "fighting" for human rights in Iran. Living abroad and barking from outside Iran while the Iranians suffer.

Yes, Irena was surely too good to stand together with those "deserving" men.

if you really want to talk about what's wrong with that, Irena was POLISH, not German


Excuse me-but Irena Sendler was POLISH!!!!!!! This is very important-she was risking her LIVE-and the lives of all those POLES who took the children she smuggled out of the getto in!!!!

Dear Mr. Watts, that email about Irena Sendler is still circulating in Brazil, in a shabby Portuguese translation. I've found your text and just translated it into Portuguese and posted both - the English original and the Portuguese translation on my blog, at

 Please if this is against your copyright, or if this displeases you, just tell me and I'll remove it right away. I just thought your extremely intelligent comments would be good antidote to be used to benefit Brazilian readers.

My name is Murilo Paes Leme, I live in Brasilia - DF Brazil, I'm 70 years old, and my email address is (also

Congratulations anyway on your very relevant comments.

Murilo Paes Leme

Brasília, Brazil


Irena Sendler was a 100% Polish Catholic (nee Krzyzanowska). Please, check your sources and stop spreading lies about this beautiful soul. She had nothing to do with Germany whatsoever.

She would feel deeply hurt if she knew people described her as a German as she was a Polish patriot and loved her country.

She, of course, didn't know know anything about the Nazi's plans either.

I don't know anything about Irena Sendler's nationality, but I can easily believe that the author of the above email got that wrong, along with everything else.