It’s a parallel more than a few have drawn: The current state of the United States and George Orwell’s classic dystopic, 1984. We’re here with three clear signs that Orwell’s fiction has become our factual reality.
First, war is peace.
“Oceania was at war with Eastasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia,” Orwell wrote of two of the three remaining nation-states on the planet. Though at the time of Orwell’s writing, he was referring specifically to Russia’s relation with Germany, the same connection can now be drawn between the Untied States and the Middle East.
Big Oil, Big Pharma, and the multi-faceted defense industry have experienced exponential profits since perpetual war became the de facto basis of foreign policy — and Big Banks share in the reward. But all of this war requires the U.S. government maintain support from the public — and what better way to win them over than appeal to fear of the Other?
As John Brady Kiesling, a career diplomat, wrote in his letter of resignation to then Secretary of State Colin Powell:
We spread disproportionate terror and confusion in the public mind, arbitrarily linking the unrelated problems of terrorism and Iraq. The result, and perhaps the motive, is to justify a vast misallocation of shrinking public wealth to the military and to weaken the safeguards that protect American citizens from the heavy hand of government. September 11 did not do as much damage to the fabric of American society as we seem determined to [do] to ourselves…
“Has ‘oderint dum metuant’ [Let them hate so long as they fear] really become our motto?”
Of course, since then, only more things have come upside down, not least of which is the “If You see Something, Say Something” catchphrase-titled program of national security.
Second, freedom is slavery…
How does a government persuade its citizens their enslavement would be desirable and beneficial? Frame it as necessary protection against any threat to their fundamental security — and implement more contentious aspects of said servitude in palatable microsteps. Fear of terrorism — or, more directly, xenophobia — constitutes sufficient reason for many to cast off basic human rights through increasingly invasive laws and governance.
Again, consider what happens when someone follows the “Say Something” citizen spy program – innocent people get arrested, such as what happened to University of Pennsylvania economics professor Guido Menzio when he was detained off an American Airlines flight – because his mathematical equations and darker complexion led to another passenger deciding he was an Arabic terrorist.
Menzio posted his experience on Facebook, describing his encounter with the FBI after being briefly pulled from the plane, writing: “They ask me about my neighbor. I tell them I noticed nothing strange. They tell me she thought I was a terrorist because I was writing strange things on a piece of paper. I laugh. I bring them back to the plane. I show them my math.”
Menzio, to the unnamed woman, was guilty of terrorism because his Italian ancestry gifted him with darker complexion and hair, and because her lack of education and state conditioning caused her to see dark terrorist plots in mathematical formulae — possibly, and disturbingly, because she mistook it for Arabic.
Or consider the TSA, which reports show is largely incompetent. Congressman Stephen Lynch explained, “We had folks — this was a testing exercise, so we had folks going in there with guns on their ankles, and other weapons on their persons, and there was a 95 percent failure rate.”
Essentially, terrorist paranoia is working exactly per the Dept. of Homeland Security’s design — otherwise ordinary Americans are now guilty, simply by being present. Guilty of being non-white. Guilty of speaking a language other than English. Guilty of math.
Third, and finally, ignorance is strength.
We don’t even need to consider the reach of fake news to see the truth here, where large swaths of Americans now pride themselves on their ignorance, and indoctrination has replaced education.
Ignorance of the breadth of American imperialism — the reality of its plundering resources around the planet, its actions as an enforcement arm of the plutocratic corporatocracy, and the violence it employs on innocent civilians wherever it chooses — remain unknown to the majority in this country. With essentially all information available a click away, this ignorance amounts to little more than a flat denial of reality. Saying ‘my government would never do that’ might be one thing, but refusing to investigate whether or not the statement holds weight is essentially admitting the government takes precedence over truth.
Will we accept that same ignorance for our own lives?
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