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Orwellian Newspeak and Liberal Tactics

January 12, 2011

I’m doing a bit more thinking about this concept of the Orwellian black-is-white tactics of the left and of its media outlets. I’m not sure my previous post gets that across to people the way I want it to. I may have glossed over the concept too quickly.

For those of you who have never read George Orwell’s book 1984 – and why haven’t you? – the government of that world had a way of turning everything backwards. For example, the Ministry of Peace dealt with war; the Ministry of Truth was the primary agent of the government’s propaganda, and the Ministry of Love was where the torture of those working against the totalitarian state was conducted.

Orwell called this Newspeak. I find more and more that we are hearing it every day from a variety of sources. In fact, 1984’s protagonist, Winston Smith, worked in the Ministry of Truth, revising historical records to fit the current political views of the government. This kind of revisionist history goes on all the time now. If it wasn’t spun at the time, or not well enough, it is now.

As an example, take the Waco siege of the Branch Davidian compound in 1993. The media worked as hard as possible to spin it at the time as a necessary step by Federal forces to control a dangerous group of religious zealots. Attorney General Janet Reno, we were told, was exercising great restraint in dealing with the Branch Davidians. Her goal was to “protect the children.” Yet when it was all over, the compound was burned to the ground, and 76 people died, including 20 children.

I won’t even get into the bit about President Clinton taking a hands-off view of this whole situation. I’ll just deal with my perceptions of it at the time. I was 39 years old, no youngster, and all I heard on the news was how dangerous David Koresh and his followers were, how evil they were, and how defiant of authority they were. I won’t say I’m an expert on the situation today, but I’ve learned enough to know that there are two sides to most stories, and this one had a second side that somehow didn’t make the TV news outlets or the papers.

Remember, this was pre-internet. There were no bloggers, there was no Drudge Report. (Although, thankfully, there was also no Daily Kos!) Even folks like Rush Limbaugh didn’t have access to the kinds of detailed information we have today. Today the MSM view of the situation wouldn’t have lasted twenty-four hours. We would have received reports from all kinds of people close to the situation, folks interviewing those who knew the Davidians, everything we didn’t know because the Ministry of Truth controlled the situation. There were folks who put the story together, slowly, and that’s where I learned some of what I know about it. I can’t pass judgement on the Branch Davidians; I can tell you that it looked to me as if there was no reason for the BATF and the FBI, under the direction of the US Attorney General, to become involved in an armed attack on a compound with families in it – especially one that was botched so badly.

This spinning of the news is nothing new, or Orwell couldn’t have portrayed it so well when he wrote his book in 1948. Totalitarian states, especially the old Soviet Union, were masters at this, especially because they controlled the media outlets outright. But that was a heavy-handed way to control it. Today, here, it’s worse…

It’s complicit. The folks doing it today are doing it voluntarily. For power, for money, for prestige, for (Heaven forbid) ideology, they really do believe the truth is not only malleable but can be outright denied if the cause is just.

So today, we have a group, or a number of groups, who fear Sarah Palin because she tells the truth and won’t even negotiate with them. They probably thought because she had a taste of fame that she would “play ball” to get more of it, since that’s what they did. Nope, she’s still just out there, telling the truth as she sees it. That is VERY SCARY if your job is to cover up the truth, to deny it, to reverse it in the way the public sees it.

They’ve been working since the election of 2008 to discredit her. They can’t send her to a gulag (yet) so they have to minimize her impact. First, it was the old Ronald Reagan liberal offense: tell everyone she’s stupid. That turned out to not work so well. People found out they liked someone who didn’t talk down to them, who didn’t appear to be acting clever all the time. We like to watch Robert Downey Jr. in movies, but most of the time he plays someone who is too clever by half and has to get his comeuppance before we’re really comfortable with him. He’s the kid you laughed at when he said something funny in class but you were always a bit afraid he would turn on you next and make you look stupid.

Since Palin is about as far from that personality type as is possible, she is relatively immune to these attacks. The internet has become her way to connect with people, using FaceBook and Twitter constantly to make sure her thoughts are known. She had a wide variety of ways of communicating with the public that was free of filtering, and she’s used it to great advantage.

And a majority of Americans “get” her. Whether they think she’s Presidential timber remains to be seen. But they’ve demonstrated that they really like what she has to say and they think of her as a “real person.” That’s most dangerous to the kinds of people I’ve been talking about.

While I’m on that subject, a slight diversion to another topic: Presidential candidate “strategery.” I listed to the audio book “Reagan In His Own Voice” during Christmas time. I bought it as a digital download, from audible.com. I won’t go into it a lot here, except to say that, during the five years between the end of his governorship of California and his second run for the Presidency in 1980, he did a series of 3-minute weekly radio addresses. They were syndicated to radio stations across the country and covered a very wide range of topics. The audio book collects some of the best of these from all of those years.

I don’t know if this started out to be his strategy, or if he decided to do it just as a way to keep himself in the public eye (or ear). Anyway, if you listened to those radio speeches, all of them written exclusively by him, you would have known exactly how he planned to govern as President. He laid out his thoughts about foreign policy, domestic policy, even topics like abortion, in small, easy-to-understand chucks, week after week.

I see a few of the potential GOP candidates doing similar things today. Mike Huckabee has a Fox TV show and a daily radio program much like Reagan’s. Newt Gingrich has been all over the place, with books, films, speeches and Twitter feeds. Sarah Palin has done a lot of speeches, has her Facebook page, her Twitter account, two books so far, and now, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” a fond look at her beloved home state. (That it also shows more about her, and her family, in a positive, controlled light, doesn’t hurt.) Even Fred Thompson, whom I will admit is a long shot for being a candidate again in 2012, has a daily radio talk show. Probably more than any of the others, it’s easy to tell by listening to Thompson’s radio show what direction he would go as President. If people felt they didn’t know before the 2008 election, they certainly should know before this one.

Back to the topic at hand. We’ve reached a point where a few media outlets, even government-controlled or government-influenced, cannot control the opinions of the populace. Today there are just too many alternative ways of getting information.

But…it doesn’t have to remain that way. The FCC vote in December on “net neutrality” is a concern for many people not necessarily because of what the policy might do, but because of the interference with the internet by a government agency. Granted, it was invented by DARPA, but it has grown to be run by and supported by thousands of companies, and is not a government agency. It was by design a distributed information system. That makes it much more difficult to control, thank God. That doesn’t mean the FCC or some other Federal agency won’t try, or that they wouldn’t be successful in at least crippling it.

Most of our alternative news sources depend on the internet for distribution of information. The FCC has proven time and time again over the past 60 years that it will exert control over television and radio when it wishes. With the current balance of viewpoints on the US Supreme Court it would be next to impossible to pull the teeth of the FCC, or any large Federal agency, for that matter. We need to have Congress keep the FCC away from the internet to maintain free speech. That is a tall order today, and every time something like the murders in Tucson occur the liberals pull out their file folders labeled “Free Speech Restriction Plan” and get them ready to run…again.

Stand fast, my friends. Call or write your congresscritter in support of freedom of speech and a hands-off policy for the internet. Who knows, we might even eventually get rid of the EPA!

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