Think what you will about George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. After all, you might say, it was written by a lapsed Communist and veteran of the Spanish Civil War (fighting on the Communist-dominated Republican side) and author of the Trotskyite parable, Animal Farm, an apologia for Communism. All of which is true.
But I do believe that had he not died of tuberculosis (1949), he would have become one of the first neo-conservative intellectuals and writers in the West. He had been creeping in that direction ever since the Spanish Civil War, driven by his growing and articulate animus for totalitarianism (born during WWII, during which he saw elements of it in British government domestic wartime policies). This direction could only have ultimately led him to renounce collectivism, but probably have not motivated him to advocate capitalism or found a fresh new political philosophy (as Ayn Rand did, but from a philosophical perspective, and not from a solely political one). In that respect, he was not a profound thinker or philosophical innovator. But he was a first-class and honest observer.
I have always enjoyed reading Orwell’s prose, whether or not I agreed with him on any specific topic. He was such a consciously fine writer, which explains his deceptively effortless style. My favorite essay of his is “Politics and the English Language” (1946).
As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug.
Orwell is one of the very, very few writers of the liberal/left who actually respected his readers’ minds and adopted an appropriate policy of writing clearly and stated his intentions and meanings without obfuscation or equivocation.
Humbug, however, is the subject here, and while reading something else, Peter Carl’s six-part essay in The Brussels Journal, “Surviving Islam…and Right/Left Politics: Churchill’s Principle,” caused me to recall the whole “war on terror” coupled with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s hosting of a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Washington this week. That was the subject of Clare Lopez’s “Criticism of Islam Could Soon be a Crime in America” on Family Security Matters. This in turn caused me to recall something from Nineteen Eighty-Four, the role of rocket bombs that fell on London. From Part 2, Chapter 5:
The proles, normally apathetic about the war, were being lashed into one of their periodical frenzies of patriotism. As though to harmonize with the general mood, the rocket bombs had been killing larger numbers of people than usual. One fell on a crowded film theatre in Stepney, burying several hundred victims among the ruins. The whole population of the neighborhood turned out for a long, trailing funeral which went on for hours and was in effect an indignation meeting. Another bomb fell on a piece of waste ground which was used as a playground and several dozen children were blown to pieces. There were further angry demonstrations, Goldstein was burned in effigy, hundreds of copies of the poster of the Eurasian soldier were torn down and added to the flames, and a number of shops were looted in the turmoil….
In some ways she [Julia, Winston’s lover] was far more acute than Winston, and far less susceptible to Party propaganda. Once when he happened in some connection to mention the war against Eurasia, she startled him by saying casually that in her opinion the war was not happening. The rocket bombs which fell daily on London were probably fired by the Government of Oceania itself, ‘just to keep people frightened’.
The mind works in not entirely mysterious ways.
“Just to keep people frightened.” How appropriate an observation to make about our own government. What have Americans seen since 9/11 but attempts to keep them frightened and pacified? The Department of Homeland Security, the “war on terror” now graduated from hunting down the kamikaze soldiers of Islamic jihad to include anyone who questions government policy (re the National Defense Authorization Act, discussed in a previous commentary, “Portrait of a Police State”), the appeal to snitch on one’s neighbors and friends, the completely useless but very expensive, intrusive, and arrogant TSA, Obamacare and other socialist legislation, the campaign to govern one’s diet and light bulbs, the government’s push to take over the Internet, the campaign to demonize freedom of speech in regards to Islam, the excising of all references to Islam, Muslims and Jihad from official documents and training materials (With whom are we at war? Eurasia or East Asia? Who knows? Terrorists just materialize from a parallel universe, not all the time from Islam, but often on blog sites and newspaper columns and not always about terrorism) – all calculated to keep the public dumbed down, diverted, quiet, misinformed, and in a constant state of semi-fright and anxiety.
They are all Orwellian rocket bombs.
Here is another rocket bomb: U.N. Resolution 16/18, which would “criminalize” any and all kinds of criticism of Islam, whether they are cogent essays or cartoons, will be an effort to utilize “techniques of peer pressure and shaming,” and is endorsed without reservation by Secretary of State Clinton. (These same remarks were repeated virtually verbatim by Daniel Baer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, which also concerns itself with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender issues, among other earth-shaking matters, at the Compass to Compassion Conference), and a career bureaucrat whose academic curriculum vita includes degrees in every woozy, humanitarian subject imaginable.) After a mountain of fluffy and venal rhetoric, Clinton noted on July 15th of this year, during a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation:
The Human Rights Council [of the U.N.] has given us a comprehensive framework for addressing this issue on the international level. But at the same time, we each have to work to do more to promote respect for religious differences in our own countries. In the United States, I will admit, there are people who still feel vulnerable or marginalized as a result of their religious beliefs. And we have seen how the incendiary actions of just a very few people, a handful in a country of nearly 300 million, can create wide ripples of intolerance. We also understand that, for 235 years, freedom of expression has been a universal right at the core of our democracy. So we are focused on promoting interfaith education and collaboration, enforcing antidiscrimination laws, protecting the rights of all people to worship as they choose, and to use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.
There is an instance of what Orwell would call the “gumming together of long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug.”
By the U.N. resolution, and through “peer pressure and shaming” advocated by our Secretary of State, “Islamophobia” will include these “criminal offenses”: Religious profiling, defamation, vilification, fear-mongering, discriminatory speech, hate speech, intolerance…ad nauseum. The resolution clumps together the antics of Terry Jones of the Dove Outreach Church and his Koran burning with authoritative essays and books by Robert Spencer, Steve Emerson, Ali Hirsi, Ibn Warraq, Pamela Geller, Melanie Phillips, Walid Shoebat, and many other experts on Islam.
The irony is that Islam that is guilty of everything its defenders charge others with. Call it “Westphobia,” or “Speechaphobia,” or “Reasonophobia.” As Pamela Geller put it, truth is the new “hate speech.” That the OIC and the U.N. would go to such lengths to oppose freedom of speech should cause one to ask: What have the Islamists to hide, that they wish to suppress the truth? What don’t they wish others to know? What truths do they not want identified, exposed and spoken and written about?
What they and their companion organizations, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Islamic Circle of America, and other such “civic” outfits, wish to hide is the fact that Islam is antithetical to every rational political concept in the West, that it is totalitarian in nature and in practice, that it is anti-man, anti-life, and anti-value. That it is essentially and incontrovertibly nihilist in theory and in implementation. And that Muslims who are devoted to it are essentially “dead souls,” living ballast in the form of 1.3 billion manqués on which to establish Sharia law and a global caliphate. All those dead souls: Allah owns them – this they know, for the Koran tells them so – to paraphrase Anna Bartlett Warner’s hymn, and they don’t mind.
The OIC gathering in Washington is merely one rocket bomb among others launched by our own government to keep us worried and distracted and always ducking for cover.
As Winston Smith did Part 1, Chapter 8, when a rocket bomb suddenly strikes.
Winston clasped his forearms above his head. There was a roar that seemed to make the pavement heave; a shower of light objects pattered on to his back. When he stood up he found that he was covered with fragments of glass from the nearest window.
He walked on. The bomb had demolished a group of houses 200 meters up the street. A black plume of smoke hung in the sky, and below it a cloud of plaster dust in which a crowd was already forming around the ruins. There was a little pile of plaster lying on the pavement ahead of him, and in the middle of it he could see a bright red streak. When he got up to it he saw that it was a human hand severed at the wrist….
If the government launches this particular rocket bomb, and agrees with the OIC and the U.N. to enforce a ban on “hate speech” in America by statute or by “peer-pressure and shaming,” we will not see anything as prosaic as a severed wrist, but the heads of the champions of freedom of speech, severed at the neck. For the purpose of this particular rocket bomb is not to cause physical destruction and death, but to destroy the mind and establish a reign of living death.