Wednesday, September 4, 2013


          In 1966 I was a college student in Queens, New York. It seemed apparent to me and many of my friends that the war in Vietnam was a mistake. We felt compelled to participate in protests in New York and in Washington, DC. We did not think of our actions as any big deal. We were doing what we could to change governmental policy. In the intervening years that passion and awareness appears to have entered into a comatose state across America.

         In his book, "1984", George Orwell made popular two terms that appear to have become our norm. Those terms were, "doublespeak" and "doublethink." Orwell did not invent these terms but he made masterful use of them in his novel. "Doublespeak is language which pretends to communicate but doesn't. It is language which makes the bad seem good, the negative seem positive, the unpleasant seem unattractive, or at least tolerable. It is language which avoids, shifts or denies responsibility; language which is at variance with its real or purported meaning. It is language which conceals or prevents thought. William Lutz, "Doubts About Doublespeak." State Government News, July 1993.

         Examples of doublethink from Orwell's book are: "The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink"... "Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious."..." Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing."

         For the past four or five years all we have heard is that our deficit is the biggest threat to our well-being. We have been told that there is no money to repair our infrastructure or to provide school lunches or adequate healthcare. In fact the Republican Congress has voted 40 times to repeal Obamacare. It is as if Obamacare is allowed to continue we will all die a slow agonizing death. It also appears that once Obamacare is repealed the next biggest threat to our national interest is National Public Radio. The runners-up appear to be making sure that the poor and minorities lose their voting rights, ensuring that the minimum wage never goes up and the abolition of all trade unions.

         Our esteemed leaders are now debating whether or not we should "punish Syria." Of course we should be aghast at the use of any weapons. But I find it curious that the rest of the world finds it so easy to sit back and watch us "take care of it." Wouldn't it be fascinating if in a few years we learn that the chemicals in our food have killed and maimed far more people than anything done by Bashar al-Assad.

         In the world of doublespeak we have a president who has won the Nobel Peace Prize while at the same time ordering a surge of troops in Afghanistan. The following figures may not be exactly accurate but I do believe they are fairly close. There were 2996 people killed in America as a result of the attacks on 9/11/01. Since then 3274 coalition troops have been killed in Afghanistan along with approximately 17,000 Afghans. Over 8000 coalition troops have been killed in Iraq and the civilian estimates are between 200,000 to over 1 million. During this time period we had fired over 2000 cruise missiles. The estimates for the cost of one cruise missile go up to $1,400,000 apiece. When I used my calculator to total this it just read "E" because the number of zeros exceeded my display. And this total is just a very small percent of all the costs associated with war. Remember we can't afford to feed our children. We can't afford to provide healthcare. It may be the case that the zombie apocalypse has already happened as manifested by the silence of all the parents whose gorgeous children have been maimed while "protecting us." These same children get inadequate healthcare and they can't get jobs once they come home.

         It isn't exactly clear what the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have actually provided for us. We are told that Al Qaeda is in ruins. But 13 years later we have instability all over the Middle East. Terrorist attacks have occurred in the Philippines, Bali, and numerous other places around the world. Many believe that the prison in Guantánamo has resulted in far more youth all over the world being recruited into the ranks of those that hate what we have done. I also find it quite ironic that the war in Iraq did not result in America controlling Iraqi oil and the first mining contract in Afghanistan has been awarded to China. Why aren't the Tea Party geniuses screaming that we can't afford another war?
     In 2008 I wept tears of joy when Obama was elected. In true doublespeak fashion the man who was going to bring change and the end of the abuses of the Bush administration now has the NSA checking the contents of our farts to see if we have ever eaten hummus.

         Our schools produce children that don't know how to make change if the cash register is broken. Our children have the attention span of 140 characters. A few days ago the British Parliament said no to Britain's participation in Syria. I was able to watch that live because my cable network carries AlJazeera. No American network covered it live. We appear to have the best government that money can buy. I wonder what it will take to wake us out of our coma.