Has anyone noticed the over/mis use of the word “Orwellian” recently? And by Right Wingers, who you know for a fact have never read anything by Orwell? Add “Orwellian” to the list of simple terms used to describe government, politics or history that the Right Wing does not understand. It is now among friends like “Socialism”, “Fascist”, “Nationalize”, “Gotcha” “Marxist”, “Culture War”, “Bootstraps”, “Teleprompter” , “Ad hominem”, “Small Government”, “Evolution”, “Freedom of Speech”, ”Job Creators”, Elitist” ,”Jesus”, “Scientific Theory”, Founding Fathers” and “Constitution”.
Everyone else knows that Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four were written by one of those dreaded European socialists, an EcoSocialist who considered the Soviet Union a betrayal of socialism, not the works of a McCarthyite red-baiter who thought that Free Markets would save the world. They don’t read the books. They just quote someone who’s quoted someone who’s quoted someone else. These are the same idiots who adopted Won’t get Fooled Again and Born in the USA as Right Wing Anthems. Never mind the lyrics, the “words”. 1984 is such an ingrained part of our consciousness – it doesn’t even feel like allegory anymore, but rather a murky, half-experienced reality – that having Republican candidates in 2012 adopt it non- ironically as their guidebook is really beyond the pale.
I came across a hilarious misuse of the word in an installment of the “vetting” series on The Ghost Andrew Breitbart’s site, part of an expose that reveals Obama’s sinister plan to make war on Catholics by working to enact the Catholics’ anti-Catholic plan for universal healthcare:
The law, had it passed, would have forced the state to enact a plan that, in the Orwellian words of the Chicago Tribune, “permits everyone in Illinois to obtain decent health care on a regular basis by 2002.”
I fail to see how those words are “Orwellian.” Are they”Orwellian” because the claim to offer “decent health care on a regular basis” is newspeak for “the federal law will require all women of child-bearing age to abort three fetuses for every baby they wish to bring into this world”? Are they Orwellian, and I’m just not picking up on the sophisticated, ironic, metafictional nuance – that it’s an Orwellian reading of Orwell? Are they ” Orwellian” in the sense that they both use words in the English language?
I read somewhere that the only possible excuse for the egregious statements made without flinching by the 2012 GOP candidates is ”Doublethink”, which, according to Orwell, means “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them … ” (to tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient). It’s different from simply lying. It’s looking at the truth and seeing just a reflection of one’s desired self. It’s the look of pure, unfazed moral superiority on a face while describing wholly immoral beliefs that exist purely to cause misery. It’s this:
Deeply deluded and irresponsible religious fanatic Michele Bachmann’s insistence that the credit downgrade was due to the raising of the debt ceiling, while it was precisely because of her and her fellow Tea Partyists’ “contentious and fitful” wrangling . Her claiming that one should never “mess with the full faith and credit of the United States”, when that is precisely what she did.
Mitt Romney’s self-serving claim that “corporations are people, my friend”, like a more strapping and less interesting Mr. Burns, ranting about his investments in Amalgamated Spats, and Baltimore Opera Hat Company.
Rick Santorum’s lemonade-out-of-lemon approach to handling pregnant rape victims: forcibly accepting God’s gift of human life by forcing them to carry their pregnancy to term, and his overextended sense of humanity that does not extend – not in even the tiniest flicker of an eye – to the victim.
Your Average Teabagger, ferociously defending his or her right to all kinds of entitlements, while psychotically deriding “entitled programs” of any kind.
I’ve noticed a resurgence lately, of right-wingers declaring [insert Dystopian Novel/Movie of the Moment here] are EXAMPLES OF THE DANGERS OF BIG GOVERNMENT. The level of analysis any book’s message ever warrants begins and ends there. Because Liberals are statists and love government for its own sake, and that’s totally what the left-right divide is actually about.
The latest example is Hunger Games. If you haven’t read it, the Hunger Games trilogy explores – through the rebel army that takes on the ruling government – the consequences of war, the mechanics of totalitarian states and the cynicism of celebrity culture, in an imagined near future. The author, Suzanne Collins, cites her sources as including Germinal, Lord of the Flies and the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Her father was a US Air Force officer who served in Vietnam for 6 years and returned with PTSD. Collins grew up being educated in the outcome and responsibilities of what she has called “necessary and unnecessary war”, being led around battlefields, garnering a sense of the reality of war that she is passionate about passing on to her readers.
So the Republicans “read” Hunger Games. They forget the part that has the government ruling what remains of North America, the well-fed elite in the first-world-ish Capitol condemning the populations of 12 third-word-ish, poverty-stricken districts to hard labour, while a 13th district has been depopulated as punishment for rebellion. They forgot the critique of mass media as a modern bread-and-circuses (the new Roman state is called Panem, after the bread that controls the servile masses, and the accompanying circuses are provided by televised, gladiator-style games – mandatory viewing for the population – in which children chosen by lottery fight to the death). They forgot the considered study of torture, warfare, and PTSD. They forgot how the story is framed from the collapse of the historic United States as linked to ecological disasters – “drought and rising seas” – followed by civil war that paves the way for a totalitarian regime. They didn’t understand how terrifyingly like the world is to our own in its motivation, a mess entirely of our making with only a stolen election, technology and climate change separating us from President Snow and his warped regime.
According to Republicans, the only important part is Because Big Government. And you know, Katniss poaches to feed her family, which is totally the same as shooting wolves from helicopters.
Anyway, it’s more proof for my basic thesis that most of the more successful conservative talking points come from just really poor reading comprehension (the rest, of course, come from being dicks).