Green Room

Twenty-eight years later, it’s finally 1984

posted at 4:11 pm on September 18, 2012 by

In 1975, there were political billboards around America proclaiming portentously that 1984 was only nine years away.  The reference, of course, was to George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four, the novel of a collectivized, indoctrinated human future, which high-school students had been reading since it was published in 1949.

The year 1984, by Gregorian reckoning, came and went, and Americans seemed to have dodged the Nineteen-Eighty-Four bullet.  We weren’t being interned for reeducation by a Ministry of Love.  Although conservative, constitutionalist, limited-government ideas came under relentless attack in the mainstream media and the academy, those who expressed the ideas remained free to do so.  (They in fact became freer with the lifting under Reagan of the genuinely Orwellian-named “Fairness Doctrine.”)

The MSM built narratives about the reprehensible heartlessness, hypocrisy, and stupidity of conservatives, Republicans, and Christians, but we remained largely free to live and work as we chose.  Reagan was reelected in 1984, and George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush were elected in the years since.  Republicans might have imposed unnecessary constraints on themselves – e.g., the party leadership unaccountably believing, against the evidence, that Republican candidates need to tack left to attract votes – but for the most part, the GOP continued to have a fair shot at the ballot box.

In 2012, the atmosphere has changed.  The sacredness of our right to free expression – religious, political, artistic – is not necessarily given priority by either our federal government or the MSM.  Dissent is treated as a pestilence, or worse (e.g., global-warming skeptics being compared to Holocaust deniers).  Media and political figures cater nakedly to political narratives, no matter how many times truth bites them in the backside.  They simply ignore the truth – often while being faced directly with it on live TV – focused instead on faithfully repeating the narratives launched from the Obama White House, as well as on nurturing narratives of their own.

Thus, when multiple attacks were mounted on US diplomatic facilities in the Muslim world on 9/11 – one of them a clearly pre-planned assault on the US ambassador in Libya (see here as well; the media originally reported the Libyan attack as pre-planned) – the Obama White House promptly launched a narrative: that these attacks were unrelated to the 9/11 anniversary, and were instead the fault of a shadowy naturalized American, who had made what is apparently a silly, low-quality video about Mohammed and Muslims.  (The clip on YouTube seems to confirm this assessment.)

Attacks on US embassies and consulates all across the Muslim world, on 9/11/12 and the days following, could hardly be interpreted as other than a form of attack on the United States.  Egyptian radicals storming the US embassy in Cairo chanted, “Obama, Obama, we are all Osama!” – which carries not a whiff of righteous fury about an amateur video, but clearly invokes Osama bin Laden and the tactical triumph of al Qaeda on 9/11/01, and carries a warning to the president of the United States.  Assaults and attempted assaults on US diplomatic facilities occurred from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Morocco – including violent riots against our embassy in Tunisia, the vanguard of the Arab Spring and a North African nation with which America has had peaceful, friendly ties for more than 200 years.

At the very least, the Obama administration is misinterpreting what is going on.  The eruptions in the Muslim world are happening because of the larger shift that started 18 months ago.  Crowds of radicals from the Muslim world generate a fury that Bolsheviks could only wish for; the developments across the Muslim arc of the Eastern hemisphere today are not necessarily to be interpreted in the categories of Soviet-era instigation and fomentation, for which Marxist cadre were famous.  Today’s events are somewhat different.

Significantly, Mohammed Morsi is emblematic of a new kind of Sunni Arab leader who will grope toward a signature concept of state Islamism.  But that concept is as yet without clear form, and the numerous attacks on American facilities can’t be pinned on it.  The two phenomena – attacks from the street and state Islamism – are related, but they have not gotten to a melding point yet.  This is the evolution we need to be watching for.

The Arab Spring nations have either remained, uneasily, under sclerotic despotisms, or have migrated to an evolving Muslim Brotherhood rule.  Neither case is a factor for stability, social peace, or a consensual idea in the political realm.  Libya is as yet unpacified by her putative national government; Syria is in full uproar.  The Middle East has not found a stability point, and that condition is red meat to radical extremists, who include both the terrorists who assassinated the ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, and the inciters of attacks on US embassies in Cairo and elsewhere.

It is more than analytically flawed for the Obama administration to focus on the “Bacile” video.  It is so superficial and convenient as to appear cynical, as if the video is the readiest excuse to hand for the administration’s bizarre, twilight behavior.  This approach puts American liberty on the spot, rather than recognizing that there are hostile as well as friendly forces at work in the Arab Spring, and that they showed their intentions in flashing neon on 9/11 last week.  The Obama administration’s posture on this development seems to argue a colossal lack of knowledge, understanding, and analysis.  Indeed, it comes off as an ideology-accelerated “war is peace” fairy tale.

For the most part, the MSM have slavishly repeated the administration’s narrative.  They also went high order on Mitt Romney, who reflexively said the thing Obama did not about the events in the Muslim world: that is, the American thing.  There is no excuse for murdering Americans or attacking our embassies.  There is no excuse for foreign governments that allow these attacks to happen.  No video ever made can serve as an excuse for these outrages, and none should even be mentioned.  Romney said the thing that resonates with the American people.  The MSM were furious with him for it.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has pathetically tried to shed responsibility for the video, which has no doubt gained far more attention through the US administration’s narrative than it ever would have otherwise.  Standing in the spotlight for America, she groveled before some putative Muslim audience, proclaiming that the US government “had nothing to do with” the video in question – as if the issue here were culpability, and as if it would have been perfectly fine for the terrorists who unjustly tortured and killed our ambassador to kill out of vengeance our citizen who (at least reportedly) made the video.

The narrative by which the Obama administration and the MSM are living is a house of toothpicks.  It is so transparently based on a false evaluation of the situation that it has become surreal to watch it unfold.

This, in the end, is what will do it in.  Orwell was an incredible storyteller, but we know what he did not:  the end of globalist Marxism, and its shabby exposure for the lie it was.  Collectivism and indoctrination – Ministries of Truth and Love – don’t work.  They don’t gain ascendancy over a working order.  They never retail truth; by their very nature, they must deal in lies.  The human spirit recognizes that, which is why so many have had to be sent to reeducation camps under communism, and why so many Americans – even without fully understanding why – continue to resist collectivization and urgent ideological coercion.

America protects freedom of speech, thought, and religion, even when it is ugly, stupid, or silly.  If we do not, America is nothing.  Everything else we cherish will be lost if we do not hold to this.  And Americans do believe in these things.  We have fought and died for them.  We live them every day.

Our current president and his administration are at odds with the people on these matters, willing to obsess over, apologize for, and try to shed blame for a form of protected expression that should simply be taken in stride.  It even seems that the US Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation of the video’s perpetrator – h/t Breitbart – and this after the White House tried to get Google to remove the video from YouTube. Google showed more gumption in rejecting this request than it did in the face of Chinese censorship a few years ago.  (Google is cooperating in the censorship of the video in India and Indonesia.)

Too many of the American people may have become lost in a fog of political confusion these days, but the people are still better than this.  We are better, and we deserve better.  False narratives are weak and accompany morally weak behavior.  They are not the winning side.  Ronald Reagan knew that about communism and the Soviet Union, and we must be his students and know it today about the 1960s holdovers who sit at the pinnacle of our federal government.

Their ideology cannot stand.  It is weak and corrupt at its core.  It must not take us down with it.  Change course in November.  Elect Romney.  No, he’s not a philosophical conservative.  But he’s our option for moving forward peacefully.  The world will not leave us alone to delay a course correction.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at The Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Weekly Standard online, and her own blog, The Optimistic Conservative..

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Thanks J.E. I agree.

If you look at the picture of bho at the top on the right side here, it looks like I would think ‘big bro’ from 1984 would look like. Evil and wanting complete control of the US and if he had his way, the select few control the whole world?

I just pray the voters won’t let 1984 happen in 2012 to elect bho? bho has done more damage to our nation than I could have imagined when we voted against him last time! bho told us what he wanted to do and the voters voted for him anyways!
L

letget on September 18, 2012 at 4:38 PM

My fear is that under a second Obama term, when he has a chance to work on his “legacy” without the distractions of campaigning for another term, it will be even more 1984ish than it is now.

Howard Portnoy on September 18, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Howard Portnoy on September 18, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Fortunately, I don’t think Obama will have a second term. It’s so easy to just let the polls be inherently biased toward the blue urban areas — a pollster has to actually massage the responses to avert that bias, and none of them do, at least not this far before the election.

The polling firms have to weigh their reputations and ability to attract business, however. And when the polls start mattering, in the last 14 days before 6 November, I think we’ll see a Romney surge. “Unexpectedly.”

J.E. Dyer on September 18, 2012 at 5:22 PM

Fortunately, I don’t think Obama will have a second term. It’s so easy to just let the polls be inherently biased toward the blue urban areas — a pollster has to actually massage the responses to avert that bias, and none of them do, at least not this far before the election.

I’m not sure, J.E. It has been reported, after all, that Romney has already lost. In any case, I was speaking more in theoretical than predictive terms.

Howard Portnoy on September 18, 2012 at 6:00 PM

The first time “1984″ appears in the novel 1984, it is written on paper, which has been outlawed, as the main character hides in the corner of his apartment so that he can’t be seen by his television, which spies on him.

Orwell’s dystopic future is so oppressive that to compare present day America to Oceania is absurd fear mongering meant to rile up the “conservative” base, which are the only people left that might vote for him now that people that benefit from the government (i.e. citizens) and college elites have abandoned him.

Mmm...Burritos on September 18, 2012 at 6:33 PM

J.E., well said. And moreover, we also have the functional equivalent of telescreens, in the form of ubiquitous surveillance cameras and Internet monitoring.

Mary in LA on September 18, 2012 at 6:48 PM

Mmm…Burritos on September 18, 2012 at 6:33 PM

Sorry, that doesn’t wash. The federal government has reportedly launched a criminal investigation of an amateur video producer. The distance between that and full-frontal 1984 is much shorter than the distance between investigating “Bacile” and protecting his free speech.

Frankly, it is mindless complacency to assume that somehow other speech will be protected. If the wall protecting speech falls, everything else will be destroyed quickly. There is nothing protecting free speech except the determination to protect it, even when some find it offensive. It is gravely wrong to think that infringements on speech are not a life-or-death issue for liberty, merely because not all of the particular circumstances of the Orwell novel have been realized.

J.E. Dyer on September 18, 2012 at 7:51 PM

Instead of Everybody Draw Mohammad Day we have a Muslims Are Violent Day which you celebrate by burning a Koran.

I think that would truly capture what we want to capture, the true picture of Islam.

GardenGnome on September 18, 2012 at 8:03 PM

Or how ’bout we declare each protest as a sacriledge to freedom, openly condemn those that threaten to kill us, and pledge all of our powers to immediately destroy them for their hating, and watch the scum double step back into their rat holes.
They understand respect only as fear. Their rules. Let them pay for it for a change.

onomo on September 18, 2012 at 8:43 PM

Great essay Ms. Dyer. Very good points. I’ve been comparing today’s political/social climate to 1984 for at least the last year. Sometimes I get the same kind of useful idiot response as you got from Mmm…Burritos. But as you point out, we’re really not too far from having basic rights stripped away, and not just the 1st amendment, but the second also.

Anyway, the right really needs to get the vot out this election. Folks, do not sit at home that day. Vote.

Anybody but Obama!

JeffPBlues on September 18, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Mmm…Burritos on September 18, 2012 at 6:33 PM

Sorry, that doesn’t wash. The federal government has reportedly launched a criminal investigation of an amateur video producer. The distance between that and full-frontal 1984 is much shorter than the distance between investigating “Bacile” and protecting his free speech.

Frankly, it is mindless complacency to assume that somehow other speech will be protected. If the wall protecting speech falls, everything else will be destroyed quickly. There is nothing protecting free speech except the determination to protect it, even when some find it offensive. It is gravely wrong to think that infringements on speech are not a life-or-death issue for liberty, merely because not all of the particular circumstances of the Orwell novel have been realized.

J.E. Dyer on September 18, 2012 at 7:51 PM

Hogwash… free speech is well established legal law in the US and I see nothing on the horizon which would curb what we already have in terms of its protection. They are investigating potential parole violations which are entirely different and as you know your rights are curbed in the event of criminal convictions in the US. You loose the right to vote and a number of other freedoms depending on the crime and the details of the parole. If you think that should change say so but don’t peddle this kaka nonsense that the law has changed because Obama is President. That is nonsense.

lexhamfox on September 19, 2012 at 12:12 AM

lexhamfox on September 19, 2012 at 12:12 AM

Comprehensively wrong. DOJ investigating potential parole violations because of this video? What possible justification could there be for that?

There was no crime in producing this video or making the trailer available online. “Investigating potential parole violations” because Nakoula exercised his right to free speech can only smack of harassment and intimidation. Obama’s DOJ is in fact doing something the American people are fully justified in expecting their government agencies will never do. The right to political or religious expression is not one you lose by being convicted of a crime. There is no possible justification for “investigating” Nakoula over this video.

J.E. Dyer on September 19, 2012 at 12:47 AM

The first time “1984″ appears in the novel 1984, it is written on paper, which has been outlawed, as the main character hides in the corner of his apartment so that he can’t be seen by his television, which spies on him.

Orwell’s dystopic future is so oppressive that to compare present day America to Oceania is absurd fear mongering meant to rile up the “conservative” base, which are the only people left that might vote for him now that people that benefit from the government (i.e. citizens) and college elites have abandoned him.

Mmm…Burritos on September 18, 2012 at 6:33 PM

Most people thought that way in 1917, 1938, etc. Nope, can’t happen here!

Bevan on September 19, 2012 at 7:47 AM

28 years later????

We’ve been in Big Brother territory for years already.

Dante on September 19, 2012 at 2:53 PM

J.E. Dyer on September 19, 2012 at 12:47 AM

Look at the rules of his probation.

lexhamfox on September 20, 2012 at 4:25 PM

lexhamfox on September 20, 2012 at 4:25 PM

And your point? Nakoula is still being harassed because of a video the US federal government is making up a narrative about. He can’t be investigated for the video itself, but only — apparently, potentially — if he accessed the internet without authorization from his probation officer. The reason for that is — again, apparently — that he was convicted of fraud involving the use of the internet.

The video itself cannot be considered “fraud.” Accessing the internet is the only possible probation violation here. It’s thin gruel, and a waste of the taxpayers’ money to spend time on it. It’s only being done because of the video.

This video did not incite either the assassinations in Libya or the storming of the US embassy in Cairo. Too much evidence indicates otherwise. But even if it had, it is disgusting, to use Hillary Clinton’s word, for the US federal government to make so much of the video and then pursue the guy behind it. Nothing justifies this course. If Nakoula is imprisoned for a probation violation because of this video, it will be a triumph for nothing except the urge to interpolate narrow excuses for repressing free speech. Trying to get Nakoula on a probation violation isn’t the rule of law, it’s the use of law to justify infringing a fundamental right.

J.E. Dyer on September 21, 2012 at 12:00 AM