Friday, December 17, 2004

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

Have you noticed an increase in references to Orwell and 1984? Last month the National Council of Teachers of English's Doublespeak Award was given to George W. Bush, for the second consecutive year. The Hoosier Times reported that this year's honor was conferred at the 94th annual convention of the teachers' association in Indianapolis:
The group calls the Doublespeak Award an ironic tribute "to American public figures who have perpetuated language that is grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing, or self-contradictory."

The Doublespeak Award has been given by the teachers' group annually since 1974. The word itself is a combination of the concepts of "newspeak" and "doublethink" that were made famous in George Orwell's novel, "1984."
Orwell said: “ a vast system of mental cheating”. We're so used to being lied to that we now lie to ourselves all the time. We routinely accept "lesser evil" scenarios as if they were actual choices. They are not. Instead, we must recognize and acknowledge false alternatives.

We need to hold ourselves to a higher standard of ruthless honesty. This is done primarily by identifying where we say we see something a certain way, but then act as if we see it a different way. For example, the person screaming about election fraud but wanting a recount. There is dishonesty in this position, despite the person's best intention to fight the system. The honest position here recognizes that fraud made the first "count" a sham, thus leaving nothing to actually re-"count". The power of framing, of the media's ability to manipulate public acceptance of what constitutes reality, makes this much more than a semantic issue.

The conditions do not currently exist for the US to conduct elections that are beyond question. Conditions in America today correlate with the definition of fascism, not democracy. We must start telling ourselves the truth, and then acting on the truth as we know it. We must also focus on changing what we do, not what we think enough phone calls might finally prompt a Senator to do.

Read the No Confidence Resolution to see what it might take to create conditions that make elections legitimate beyond question.



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