The media anesthetizes our minds to make us embrace war as freedom and fraud as fact
Canadian Arab News
September 27, 2007

In his famous novel 1984, George Orwell introduces us to “Newspeak,” the pseudo-language by which the Ingsoc (English Socialist) government of Oceania, led by Big Brother, sabotages independent thought and imposes a repressive conformity on the public.

“The purpose of Newspeak,” wrote Orwell, “was to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all, and Oldspeak [standard English] forgotten, a heretical thought… would be literally unthinkable.”

For example, in Newspeak, “liberty and equality,” are reduced to “crimethink”; “free” only has the sense of “without” as in “free from” something; “dissent” is “thoughtcrime.” Syme, a senior editor of the 11th edition of the Newspeak Dictionary proudly describes the purpose behind this linguistic destruction: “The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”

When Orwell wrote 1984 the year was 1948, and Ingsoc was understood to be a metaphor for the communist régime of Stalinist Russia, but the origins of Newspeak can be found in an essay Orwell wrote two years earlier called Politics and the English Language, in which he calls for wholesale reform to rid the language of the generica, clichés, pretentious diction and other forms of lexical dross that obfuscate meaning and inhibit honest speech:

“All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.…But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better.”

One would expect people in the media to know better, but the vast majority are in the thought-corruption business and either too lazy or intimidated to use language honestly. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that “lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia” typify the language of “Big Bush.”

Although the debasement of English obviously did not start with Bush and his zionist junta, the last five years of endless war against Arabs and the pending unprovoked attack on Iran have given added import to Orwell’s warnings about the abuse of political language and how it serves as a thought-control mechanism.

How to Defend the Indefensible

“Things like… the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties… Political language—and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists—is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
George Orwell, Politics and the English Language, 1946

Here are some of the more egregious, loaded terms in our modern political argot that, as Orwell would say, anesthetize our minds and inhibit critical thought:

This all-purpose epithet of opprobrium is designed to conflate Israel with World Jewry, thereby implying that to attack one means to attack the other. In truth, the term is meaningless, as I wrote in an earlier essay: “Strictly speaking, ‘semitic’ is a linguistic term denoting a family of Afro-Asiatic languages, of which we have today Arabic, Hebrew, Maltese, and the South Arabic languages of northern Ethiopia. Ancient semitic languages included Akkadian, Canaanite, Amorite, Ugaritic, Phoenician, Punic, Aramaic, as well as ancient Hebrew and Syriac.”

The unique association of Jews with Semites serves to reinforce the cult of Jewish victimhood and shut down condemnation of Israel.

This expression dates to the Reagan era and has become a euphemism for “Christian,” though it originally referred exclusively to Roman Catholicism. Because religion has both positive and negative connotations and is often an instrument of repression, radical Christians cannot openly advocate their religion against the secular law or other religions. Also, the U.S. officially has no religion, and the separation of church and state is integral to U.S. democracy.

But “faith” affords the illusion of inclusiveness and absolute virtue. Even science has a faith component, albeit a rational one. Thus, expressions like “faith-based schools,” and “faith-based entertainment” covertly and innocuously serve the agenda of anti-democratic Christian religious exclusivity.

Holocaust denier
To question is not to deny, yet anyone who doubts any part of the received zionist version of what happened to Europe’s Jews is immediately deemed to have committed crimethink. Nowhere is the brainwashing intent of political language more overt than in this nonsense expression. The Lobby demands unconscious acceptance of its orthodoxy, and its use of this and other biased expressions is clearly designed to make a heretical (independent) thought unthinkable.

Hostile entity
This most recent addition to our political lexicon refers to the new denotation of the Gaza Strip under the elected Hamas government. “Hostile” merely reflects Israel’s bias, so this expression is intellectually corrupt. One cannot say that Israel is a hostile entity (toward Palestine) because that would imply that Palestine has legitimate grievances against Israel. Once stigmatized as hostile, any large scale violence against the Gaza Strip can be made to appear justifiable.

Though this term’s meaning is not contorted, its use is highly selective. It is used selectively to demonize critical speech, as in the expression, “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been charged with incitement.” The point is that Ahmadinejad has pointed out the criminality of Israel’s persecution of Palestinians, and underscored the illegitimacy of the state’s founding, and for this he must be punished. Such comments are deemed to be “incitement” against Jews, even though he said no such thing. (see Anti-Semitism above.)

Right to exist
This expression has no standing in international law and, like anti-Semitism, is a contrivance to skew our minds toward sympathy for Israel. Nevertheless, it plays effectively on our innate sense of fairness and understanding to make Palestinians appear to be implacably hostile. One never speaks of Palestine’s right to exist, or Syria’s, or Iran’s, or Iraq’s. Like “free” in Newspeak, it has only one use.

This term no longer has any objective meaning. It no longer refers to people or groups who use violence to bring about political change. It now is used to label any person, group or government that opposes U.S. and Israeli conduct in the Middle East. The idea that “terrorists” could be resistance fighters or people trying to defend themselves is not admitted. Because one cannot defend a terrorist, the term precludes rational debate. Therefore, the word is invariably preceded by “Muslim,” Islamic” or “Arab” to ensure that the orthodox, zionist connotation comes across.

Moreover, this term has given rise to the nonsensical epithet “Islamofascism,” based on the fatuous assertion that Arab regimes are akin to Nazi Germany. From here, the term war on terrorism is repeatedly invoked to justify repression and mass murder against Isramerica’s enemies.

What Orwell wrote in Politics regarding the state of English is directly applicable to the above-mentioned examples:

“All these expressions consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.

“Things like… the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties… Political language—and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists—is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

For “pure wind” we have the allegations of Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction, or Iran planning a nuclear strike on Israel.

Question begging? How about “war on terrorism?” Who is a terrorist and how can terrorism (a physical non-entity) be the object of military policy? Yet, the term is parroted Pavlov-like by our media with the effect of preventing such a question from being asked.

For cloudy vagueness we have “al-Qa‘ida”—a supposed group of radical Sunni Arab militants that has never been proven to exist.

There is some good news, though. Like the Brotherhood in 1984, there are those who resist “Big Bush’s” totalitarian excesses and linguistic perversions but they are punished for committing a modern thoughtcrime.

• Former president Jimmy Carter has been vilified for his book Palestine—Peace not Apartheid, and after Harvard University invited him to speak, many of the university’s backers withdrew funding.
• Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have been vilified for writing The Israel Lobby, and have had speaking engagements cancelled.
• Professor Norman Finkelstein is denied tenure at DePaul University after a smear campaign orchestrated by Alan Dershowitz.

Orwell, for all of his criticism, was optimistic that the language was not beyond hope. If each of us refused to give in to worn-out expressions and generica, he says we could reform English: “The fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers.”

True, but already the Big Bush pro-Israel propaganda machine is pushing the nation to “war” with Iran, as if Iran posed a threat, which it doesn’t. How many Americans, I wonder, are preparing to buy the lie and chant “Long Live Big Bush!”