“Well, sir, here’s to plain speaking and clear understanding.”
— Casper Gutman to Sam Spade in “The Maltese Falcon,” Dashiell Hammett, 1930.
“For it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indefinitely.”
— Emmanuel Goldstein, defining doublethink in “1984,” George Orwell, 1949.
Guess what – there was no terrorist attack on 9/11. There may have been an “attack,” but there were no “terrorists.” If we had “terrorists,” then we would require a “Global War on Terror,” but we don’t because the Obama administration has changed the language. We now have an “Overseas Contingency Operation.” You can almost imagine Winston Smith, slaving at his post in the “Ministry of Truth” to redact all mentions of the Global War on Terror.
Of course, the term “Global War on Terror” left something to be desired since it was really a Global War on Radical Islam. Doesn’t anyone in the political world believe in plain speaking and clear understanding? Not exactly.
Mostly they believe in “doublethink,” the Orwellian concept of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. Winston and Julia, the star-crossed lovers in “1984,” refused to allow Big Brother – the government – to think for them. But today, we seem just fine with that.
Look at how we name legislation. President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” law left a lot of children behind; arguably most of them as our educational system continued to deteriorate.
The Obama administration is particularly good at bill-naming. Have you ever heard of the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009”? That’s the good old Stimulus Plan that has been called “generational theft” by Senator John McCain. This bill spends billions and could lead to hyperinflation down the road – the direct opposite of the bill’s name.
But nothing exemplifies doublethink like a proposed bill that would take away the right of a worker to cast a secret ballot in union elections. In an amazing display of Orwellian chutzpah, this bill has been labeled the “Employee Free Choice Act.”
Remember the three slogans of the Inner Party in “1984?” WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.
What is so different from the real world of 2009 where racial preferences are called “Affirmative Action,” and the concept of killing a baby in the womb is routinely referred to in your local newspaper as “Abortion Rights.”
So do politicians EVER tell the truth? Sure; it happens from time to time. Before Bill Clinton lied through his teeth, telling you, me, and presumably Hillary that he “didn’t have sex with that woman,” Ronald Reagan was cutting through the crap.
Mr. Reagan shocked the world when he called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.” Reagan was telling the truth. The old USSR had no free elections, the people were repressed, and leaders were always eyeing some neighbor with aggression on their minds. The government run newspaper that carried little truth was named “Pravda” – The Truth! Orwell would be proud!
Mr. Reagan, by the way, named one of his initiatives the “Strategic Defense Initiative,” an excellent name since it was a defensive program. But the media renamed it “Star Wars,” the doublethink opposite.
Today we get such lunacies as “comprehensive immigration reform” for illegal alien amnesty; the “USA Patriot Act” for a law that allowed government spying without much in the way of judicial review; and “economic justice” as the name for redistribution of wealth.
Remember, it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be maintained. Before “Atlas Shrugged,” before Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals,” there was doublethink — a concept still practiced by our government long after 1984 has come and gone.