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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Orwellian 101

"War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength." -- George Orwell, from the book 1984, published in 1949.

In the book 1984, the totalitarian government known as "Big Brother", uses high technology and cleverly crafted language known as "Newspeak" to control the minds of the masses. In that fictional world, any person thinking about notions of freedom or revolution was punished with torture or severe brainwashing. You see, in that world, thinking about true freedom was considered a "thoughtcrime". So Big Brother used "Newspeak" to get people to think in narrow terms, limiting the range of thought, in order to make "thoughtcrime" impossible.

I'm getting sick and tired of the Orwellian Newspeak. Just turn on the television, all you hear is Orwellian Newspeak. Nothing is as it seems.

Examples:

Nation Building
Lately I've been hearing pundits argue the pros and cons of "nation building". Sorry, I prefer the old term-- "colonialism". You see, when you invade and occupy a sovereign nation in an instance where they have not attacked you and thereafter kill and oppress their people for your national interests, its called colonialism. So even if I hear the mainstream media focusing on the negative aspects of "nation building", they already missed the point. Using the term "nation building" automatically removes the thought of colonialism from the discussion. With "nation building" as a starting point, all you're left to argue is whether its good or bad to "build nations". So how bad could it be?

You don't build a nation by killing and oppressing it's people, ruining it's infrastructure, and usurping its natural resources. Thats called "colonization". And you certainly don't build nations by introducing radioactive material to the population. This brings us to........

Depleted Uranium
Your television will never mention the topic of depleted uranium. Depleted Uranium (DU) is a dense, radioactive metal used for armor-piercing shells. American tanks and A-10's fired DU munitions all over Iraq, littering the Iraqi terrain with an estimated 75 tons of DU shells. (These shells have been found to contain traces of Plutonium, which is the most toxic substance we know of. With a half-life of 4.5 billion years, Iraq is destined to be a radioactive nightmare for the rest of human history.)

Beside the fact that our media rarely discusses depleted uranium, when it does get mentioned, it's misleadingly called "depleted uranium". That's Orwellian newspeak again. It should really be called what it is-- "Enriched Uranium"
"The term "Depleted" refers to the removal of uranium-235, but the process for its removal is called "Enrichment." It is Enrichment because what remains is uranium-238, a highly potent radioactive carcinogen that emits alpha particles. Once in our body, either inhaled, or in a flesh wound, or even ingested in contaminated food or water --- you get cancer in your lungs bones, blood or kidneys (Caldicott, 2002). There is one more way, the Uranium is Enriched. Uranium-236 and Uranium-238, otherwise know as Plutonium is laced into the so-called "Depleted" uranium weaponry." -- David M. Boje, Ph.D. (March 13, 2003).
You see, this clever language makes it hard for the public to discern that we fought a nuclear war in Iraq. To be precise, it was an Enriched Uranium Nuclear War. And there is a profound reason for this Orwellian language-- Enriched Uranium weaponry is illegal under the terms and conditions of the Geneva Convention. It is a violation of the Geneva Convention to leave harmful materials on a battlefield after the conflict has ceased.

This brings us to....

Dirty Bombs
Funny thing is, when other people use weapons similar to our "depleted uranium" we call those weapons "dirty bombs". When discussing the threat from the point of view of the potential victim rather than the victimizer, our government is finally honest in it's description. And with that more honest term, "dirty bomb", the government is able to elicit fear.

'We use depleted uranium (harmless), they use dirty bombs (dangerous)'

True, "dirty bombs" work differently than "depleted uranium shells" but their long-term effects are quite similar. Both leave the same kind of horrific damage-- a radioactive mess!

This brings us to.....

Operation Iraqi Freedom
In the late 1980's, the Pentagon became very clever in it's description of military events. Wheras in the past, the government had simply adopted honest and generic titles for its foreign wars (i.e. Vietnam War, Korean War, World War II, etc.), in 1989 the Pentagon became Orwellian. Specifically, the Pentagon decided to call the invasion of Panama "Operation Just Cause". It's not easy to argue against a war when that war isn't even labeled as a war, and is furthermore labeled on it's face as a 'just cause'? Just like Orwell's Newspeak, the government is able to sell us language which limits our ability to think for ourselves.

Operation Iraqi Freedom is no different. Who doesn't want the Iraqis to be free? So how could anybody protest a war that is 'righteous' on its face? Certainly anybody who disagrees with Operation Iraqi Freedom is anti-freedom, right?

With purposeful traingulation, the government chooses language that puts independent thinkers at a strong disadvantage. The government is well aware that most people don't have the time (or ability) to think through or beyond the language that they introduce. You see, when they choose the words that can be used in the discussion, and sell it to an unquestioning and/or brain-dead media, it becomes increasingly difficult to speak out without having to first breakdown all of the preconceptions that arise from the language. I mean really, how could anybody protest 'Iraqi freedom'?

This brings us to......

Defense Contractors
We've all heard about the armed "defense contractors" roaming Iraq. These are people who work for private defense companies (e.g. Halliburton, Bechtel, etc.), armed with state of the art weaponry, and immune from all liability for any acts they commit in Iraq. In essence, these are men who can "privately" (and secretly) kill whomever they wish in Iraq without any oversight or risk of penalty. In the old days, they used to call these people what they really are, as defined in the dictionary-- "mercenaries".

The term "defense contractor" makes it sound like they are all out there building schools or installing an extra bathroom in some poor Iraqi family's house. Perhaps some of them are actually building schools. But the reality is, the mercenaries comprise the second largest military force in Iraq. Yup, there are more private warriors than British troops. Using Orwellian speak, however, the government gets to obfuscate the hidden reality of the mercenaries. They are armed and beholdent to nobody!

Conclusion
There are so many more examples of Orwellian speak. If your Orwell Radar is turned on, you will catch it everywhere. Social Security Reform (should be called "Social Security Removal"), No Child Left Behind (should be called "No Child's Behind Left"), Death Tax (should be referred to as the "Wealthy Family Inheritance Tax"), Clear Skies Initiative (should be called the "Clear Lies, Dirty Skies Initiative"), the Defense of Marriage Act of 2004 (should be called the "Sexual Intolerance Act of the Book of Leviticus")....and it goes on and on.
"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end, we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it... The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought as we understand it now." -- character from Orwell's 1984.

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