Orwell’s prediction meets Jefferson’s oath
by Neal Larson
Let me be gentle: we are descending into an Orwellian hellhole.
Hopefully you’ve read ‘1984’. If you haven’t lately — or ever — I strongly recommend downloading it to your Kindle immediately after you finish this column. George Orwell’s most well-known work was so prophetic it almost appears to be an instruction manual. Viewed through the lens of our most salient contemporary cultural and political issues, you’ll be chillingly convinced he saw this very day. You’ll also see that our trajectory, too, ends in Room 101.
We start with a little refresher of a couple of important concepts of “Ingsoc” — symbolically considered the regime in power.
“Blackwhite” — The willingness to believe whatever propaganda is put out, no matter how absurd, a “…loyal willingness to say black is white when party discipline demands this. It also means the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know black is white, and forget that one has ever believed the contrary.”
“Crimestop” — Orwell defined it this way: “The faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. In short….protective stupidity.”
Please take a moment to absorb these two concepts and their deliberate effects: limiting any range of thought that could morph into non-compliance, defiance, or rebellion against Big Brother and the state. What’s so very frustrating is that most are insidiously unaware it’s even happening to them.
Allow me the pleasure of blatantly engaging in blackwhite:
Bruce Jenner is a woman named Caitlyn. Rachel Dolezal is black. The Confederate flag is a symbol of hatred. Two adults of the same gender can be married. Christian bakers who want to refrain from participating in a gay marriage are bigots. A fetus is just tissue. Health care is a right. Global warming is settled science.
Some of you would simply consider these statements to be undisputed truth. If so, congratulate yourself, cue “Pomp and Circumstance”, step up, and accept your crimestop diploma. Your life is easier now, unshackled by pesky heretical thoughts that Bruce Jenner is actually a messed up man who had surgery, Rachel Dolezal is a faker and a liar, the Confederate flag is a complicated symbol of regional pride and history, marriage is a fundamental historical institution with a native capability of producing children, Christian bakers simply want to honor their religious beliefs, and a fetus is a growing human being. Perhaps I should stop before Thinkpol knocks on my door.
And I should probably apologize. More sensitive individuals probably read the above paragraph with a queasy discomfort at such heresy. The more robotic readers made automatic assumptions about the writer — bigotry and backwardness — and feeling a surety, laced with a false sense of intellectual superiority, of his cultural obsolescence. Those who treasure freedom, those who have not been fully Ingsoc-programmed, agree to disagree, observe without automatic anger or feigned indignance, and move on without their ensuing two minutes of hate. But they are a dying breed.
Dishonesty has been around a long time. Deception is as old as dirt. Propaganda is a national pastime. But the current manipulation of our perception of truth has reached a velocity and level of sophistication that should scare every last one of us. If you feel a sense that you’ve been transferred from the platform of reality, it’s because you have been. Welcome to the Orwellian hellhole.
In 1800, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “…I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” I can only pray that more of us make the same oath or else Orwell’s terrifying future vision of a “boot stamping on a human face — forever” will be here, doubleplus speedwise.
Neal Larson of Idaho Falls is a conservative talk show host on KID Newsradio 590am and 92.1fm, and also at www.590kid.com. “The Neal Larson Show” can be heard weekday mornings from 8:00 to 10:00. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.