A scene from director Michael Radford's version of Orwell's classic novel - 1984. (photo: MGM Studios Inc.)
George Orwell's "1984" wasn't meant to be an instruction manual.
One word that emerged from the novel was the word "doublespeak," where truth is deliberately obfuscated through clever wording. In some cases, the meaning of a word is reversed entirely. Oceania, the totalitarian regime in Orwell's book, used doublespeak as a matter of course. The Ministry of Truth specialized in propaganda. The Ministry of Love was a secretive torture complex.
In the early years of public school, or in public addresses by politicians, America is touted as the Land of the Free, or the Land of Opportunity, or the Greatest Country on Earth. We're taught from near-infancy that this country was founded on the right to say what you want, whenever, wherever, to whomever. We're told we have the freedom to assemble peacefully, to petition our leaders for a redress of grievances. We're taught that if you're apprehended by the law, you have the right to a fair trial and legal representation.
Yet, today we live in a country where government aids the corporate takeover of elections. Here, banks who fraudulently took Americans' homes for profit can get bailed out by the taxpayers, and use the money to pay themselves 12-figure bonuses. This is a country where even US citizens can be detained without due process, tortured, and even assassinated overseas.
Today, in the Land of the Free, nonviolent political protesters using their First Amendment rights to speak out against all of the above can be beaten, tasered, and maced by heavily-militarized police forces, using military-grade equipment, without any provocation.
- Students sitting down in the quad at UC Davis were covered with military-grade pepper spray, before cops in riot gear knelt on them and sprayed indiscriminately down student's throats according to Professor Nathan Brown of UC Davis.
- At UC Berkeley, Robert Hass, a former poet laureate, was clubbed by police while nonviolently protesting with students.
- In Seattle, cops clad in riot gear pepper-sprayed an 84-year-old woman and an expectant mother.
- In Oakland, veterans who served overseas to allegedly protect the rights we hold dear come home and get aggressively beaten without warning, and shot in the face with tear-gas canisters. Oakland police even threw a flash-bang grenade at people rushing to give medical attention to the wounded vet.
The recent Black Friday mobs of consumers pitching tents in parking lots and rioting over $2 waffle irons were met with silence from the police. Yet, 10 people speaking out in a Wal-Mart about the company's CEO making $19,000 per hour while his employees are forced to work on a holiday for less than poverty-level wages apparently provokes police to tackle and arrest the citizens nonviolently encouraging shoppers to buy local. In today's America we can Occupy for Capitalism, but not for Democracy.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has openly admitted that the recent police crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street solidarity encampments were the result of careful coordination between mayors on a series of conference calls. There are also reports that the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI gave advice on the crackdowns, encouraging municipalities to deploy large numbers of police, equip them with riot gear, and break up encampments when the media were least likely to be present. Reports from New York allege that reporters were asked to raise their hand if they had press credentials, before being penned in an area far from the protests. Those trying to get through were arrested, and told that it was illegal to "take pictures on the sidewalk."
It is no longer extreme to say we now live in a fascist police state. Thanks to the Patriot Act, the SCOTUS' Citizens United decision, and a complacent electorate, our First Amendment rights of free speech and free assembly now only exist on paper. In Tienanmen Square, the Chinese government also censored the press and violently cracked down on peaceful protesters. All that's missing here are the tanks.
Mussolini said, "Fascism should be more accurately called corporatism, because it is a merger of state and corporate power." It is Orwellian doublespeak to call this country "free" while freedom is actively suppressed with aid from a corporate-owned government. The people are not free if their leaders are actively making war with them.Cross-posted from Reader Supported News