By Brigitte L. Nacos
In George Orwell’s 1984 the all-present slogans of Oceana’s Ministry of Truth are
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.
In secret, the novel’s protagonist in Big Brother’s hellish dictatorship dissents such Newspeak and Doublethink designed to “make it increasingly difficult to express ideas that contradict the official line—and, in time, even to conceive such ideas.”
Thus, this entry in the protagonist’s diary:
“Freedom is the freedom that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”
In the current White House and among President Trump’s supporters inside and outside of congress, including his fans at FOX News and similar Trumpian propaganda outlets—two plus two does not necessarily add up to four. Instead, the result could be five or three or any other number. After all, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway explained the lies of her boss and his press secretary concerning the audience size during the inauguration ceremony as “alternative facts.”
When truth and facts do not matter to those in power, when lies and alternative facts become the normal and inform decision making (such as the president’s announcement of an investigation into 3-5 million illegitimate votes for Hillary Clinton), we are reminded of Orwellian Doublethink and Newspeak.
During the GOP primary campaign and the general election race Mr. Trump presented far more “alternative facts” than actual facts.The fact-checkers at Politifact evaluated 70% of his assertion as false or mostly false.
As president he has far more means to insist that “alternative facts” are facts knowing that Rupert Murdoch’s media and the online propaganda machine of the far-right will double up.
Far more troublesome is that GOP leaders either run for cover or embrace White House Newspeak and Doublethink themselves. Obviously, Trump intimidates and tames them. They fear his wrath.
Take Paul Ryan. When asked by Greta Van Systeran of MSNBC about the financing of Trump Wall along the Mexican border, the House Speaker said this,
“Well, first off, we’re going to pay for it and front the money up … There are a lot of different ways of getting Mexico to contribute to doing this and there different ways to defining how exactly they pay for it. The point is, he has a promise he made to the American people, which is to secure our border, a wall is a big part of that. We agree with that goal, and we will be working with him to finance construction of the physical barrier, including the wall on the southern border.”
Mexico merely contributing? Defining different ways how exactly to pay for it? That does not sound at all like the chants at every Trump campaign: “Who will pay?” “Mexico!”
As for corporate leaders, they endure Trump’s Newspeak and whip because the president has already promised them lots of carrots.
When two plus two is no longer four, it is time to worry.