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Welcome to 1984.

"Two and two are four." "Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Some times they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane."

WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.--George Orwell, from his novel 1984 (1949)

Fifty-six years after George Orwell published 1984, his magnificent polemic against totalitarianism, the big lie is king in America. That's the main lesson of the November election. Count me among those out-of-step blue-staters who find it literally unbelievable that 51% of the American voting public still wanted George Bush to be their president. No other successful American politician has ever written so much of his playbook in "Newspeak," the language that Orwell invented. In Bushworld bloody mayhem in Iraq equals "freedom," "Clear Skies" initiatives guarantee more air pollution, and "compassionate conservatism" is just another way of saying that hatred is as American as shiny new SUVs.

When the year 1984 rolled around, free men and women around the world congratulated themselves for having dodged the universal totalitarianism that Orwell had predicted would prevail by then. But now we are closer than ever to malting Orwell's horrific vision come true.

The first step was to dumb down the public' enough that the language of George Bush would actually sound plausible, a task now largely accomplished by television in general and Fox News in particular. A cowering press is also essential; a quivering mass of overpaid pontificators has been put in place by a 35-year-long assault on serious journalism that began in the 1970s with Vice President Spiro T. Agnew's attacks on "nattering nabobs of negativism" and now continues every day from behind the microphones of legions of deranged right-wing radio talk-show hosts. One result: The standard debate on Washington chat shows now ranges from center-right to extreme right.

Thanks to the genius of modern technology--and the Patriot Act--most of the full-time surveillance Orwell predicted of all human communication is now not only possible but legal. Osama bin Laden hasn't yet been able to replicate 9/11, but the silent damage he has inflicted on American freedom is almost as pernicious as the effects of a dirty bomb.

Another pillar of fascism is corporate control of the government. In return for gigantic contributions to Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, George Bush, and friends, lobbyists for banks, drug companies, oil companies, health care providers, and every imaginable type of polluter are on the verge of achieving near-perfect control of the legislative process.

Not surprisingly, Bush's own campaign mimicked the behavior of its corporate masters to harvest votes. According to new Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman--a 38-year-old bachelor who will only discuss his sexual orientation off the record--the Bush campaign "acquired a lot of consumer data.... Based on that, we were able to develop an exact kind of consumer model that corporate America does every day to predict how people vote--not based on where they live but how they live."

Finally, we have the ultimate example of Newspeak--"moral values," which provided the Bush campaign with the perfect euphemism for another essential tactic of fascism: the scapegoating of minorities. I don't know if the voters who came out to vote in favor of antigay initiatives Bush operatives placed on the ballot in 11 states played a decisive role in Bush's victory. But I do know there was nothing new about the Republican decision to use gay baiting to garnet' the votes of bigots. That tradition was inaugurated 25 years ago, when an organization called Christians for Reagan paid for a barrage of commercials throughout the South. "Militant homosexuals parade in San Francisco.... Flexing their political muscle, they elect a mayor," the announcer intoned. "Now the march has reached Washington.... Carter advocates acceptance of homosexuality." The national press barely noticed those ads, but they helped Reagan carry every Southern state except Georgia.
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Title Annotation:broadside
Author:Kaiser, Charles
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2005
Words:648
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