Leftists Love the Memory Hole
At a recent rally, President Trump told his audience not to believe what they read and hear in the mainstream media. It was a point he's made in various venues many times before – and an eminently reasonable point, considering the repeated waves of inaccuracy and hostility he has endured from those same media.
Trump's enemies hate his rallies. They're insanely jealous of his ability to speak ex tempore and captivate his chosen audience. So this challenge to "Fake News" became the occasion for revisiting a tried and false rhetorical trope against the president. Trump's comment was juxtaposed with a passage from George Orwell's 1984, to the effect that the Party required people to deny the evidence of their senses. Wow! How original! Clever leftists had cast Trump in the role of Big Brother. How's that for literacy?
Unfortunately for the left, it's evident that, in order to effect such a cool and bookish comparison, the anti-Trump party has to dump almost all of Orwell's dystopian novel down the memory hole.
The bone-headedness exhibited here is related to the bone-headedness inherent in the claim that Trump has been attacking the "Free Press." Having survived, so far, the #MeToo purge, bigwigs at major media outlets represent themselves as privileged characters – representatives of "The Press," which is absolutely essential to "Our Democracy." How dare that blackguard Trump question their veracity? Why, it's un-American!
Or is it? In reality, the Founding Fathers envisioned no establishment of a privileged press. Nobody then attributed special sacred status to The New York Times or CNN. Freedom of the press pertained to anyone who owned a press, and the kind of publisher the First Amendment was designed to protect was, more often than not, cranky, biased, and verbally abusive. He was also the kind of publisher who could appear anywhere on the ideological spectrum. The Constitution does not defend an official press, guys. Or, to put it in terms most likely to enrage, American Thinker has exactly the same free press rights as The Atlantic and MSNBC. Even Alex Jones has the same free press rights.
Failure to understand this point leads to tremendous confusion about Orwell's 1984. When the Party demands that its slaves deny the evidence of their senses, it is not demanding that they resist Oceania's official media. On the contrary, the official media – what comes through the telescreen – is exactly what the Party demands that its slaves accept. They are to substitute the reports of the telescreen for what they see and hear. And they are to love it.
It is important to remember here that the single ruling party in Oceania – think of Jerry Brown's Democrats in California – is governed by a philosophy called Ingsoc, short for English Socialism. It is the Labor Party writ large – and "1984" is 1948 as Orwell perceived it. A disillusioned leftist, Orwell saw where his movement was headed and stood appalled. The left on both sides of the Atlantic have been headed in the same direction ever since.
Practically every major motif in Orwell's book reflects on the tendencies of the left – in this country, on the Democrats and the bureaucratic state.
Who strives to prosecute – and persecute – thoughtcrime? The left – through its takeover of academe and condemnation of "hate speech." Are snowflakes protected from "pro-choicers" and "gun control advocates"? No. Snowflakes are pro-aborts and gun-grabbers. They insist on receiving protection from the opposing points of view. Leftists demand speech codes – and seek to enforce them even against the president.
Who practices Newspeak? The left. A great example is the profusion of terms applying to sexuality. In how many venues are we compelled to accept such terms as "trans woman," "gender identity," and "polyamorist"? How fiercely does the left seek to revise even the pronouns of the English language? Can you say "xe"? If the left gets its way, you're going to have to learn. Talk about denying the evidence of your senses! The ayatollahs of the leftist revisionism look at a crossdresser with a prominent Adam's apple and five o'clock shadow and call him a girl. They demand that you call him a girl. And they demand that you let him participate in girls' sports. I hate the word "Orwellian" – but, hey, that's Orwellian!
And the memory hole? When does the left in this country not consign past realities down the memory hole? "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan"? Who said that? Certainly not Obama! He always told the truth. Hillary's email scandal? Forget about that! Comey told us it was no big deal. In fact, if a leftist is attacking Trump, and you bring up a parallel from the Obama era, your insight will be consigned to the memory hole with a smug bit of Newspeak especially designed for such a purpose. You're practicing "whataboutism," that's what you're doing! And such a practice is decried by the telescreen every hour of every day.
Readers familiar with Orwell can entertain themselves by digging up their own parallels. It won't be hard.
The only detail in which Orwell's nightmare fails to correspond to the leftist's dream is in the matter of sexual license. Ingsoc is decidedly anti-sexual and permits intercourse only for the purposes of reproduction. That's not the teaching of today's leftist! Indeed, the modern left frowns on sexual acts only if they result in offspring. Otherwise, anything goes. In this, leftist ideology resembles that highlighted in another dystopian novel – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
Even so, it's hard to pitch Donald Trump as an anti-sex crusader. Making up tall tales about Russia comes a lot more naturally.
The main point here is that, in the current version of the "Orwellian" scam, the lockstep left is adhering to its usual practice of projection. How is it even possible to pretend that Trump is a variation on "Big Brother"? Big Brother's very existence depended on the universal support of an enforced, unitary culture. Trump's coverage in the mainstream media is 90 percent negative. Even Obama couldn't really aspire to the position of Big Brother. His ears were too big. But he was far more of a Big Brother figure than Trump could ever be.
Still, that's just whataboutism, isn't it?
Tom Riley is widely known as a poet of the formalist school and is the author of Love Poems of a Hatemonger.