Bush creates Orwellian society


Bush creates Orwellian society

By Matthew Brophy
Minnesota Daily
September 27, 2002

Freedom is Slavery; War is Peace; Ignorance is Strength. This is the
heralded by Big Brother in George Orwell's book, "1984." This motto
as well be from the George W. Bush administration. Since the tragic
11 attacks, the Bush administration has incrementally been seizing
desecrating the U.S. Constitution and subordinating our civil rights in
name of national security.

We are told that to protect freedom, we must forfeit our liberties. To
peace, we must fight a prolonged war. To be strong, we must be kept
ignorant of our government's actions. In short, to be good Americans we
must believe in apparent contradictions and submit to our government

The parallels between Orwell's dystopian vision and Bush's post-Sept. 11
governmental policies are so striking some journalists have facetiously
accused Bush of plagiarism. Orwell's book depicts a society dominated by
totalitarian government in which citizens' liberties are suppressed on
basis of an endless war. In post-Sept. 11 America, the same reasoning is
being used to justify turning our nation into a police state.

In Orwell's society, a person can be arrested not just for public
but for their private thoughts as well. In our nation, this nightmare
come to life through Bush's USA Patriot Act. This act enables law
enforcement departments to spy on citizens and non-citizens alike: To
private e-mail correspondence, monitor Internet usage, tap into phone
conversations, delve into computer files and conduct "sneak-and-peak"
searches of homes and offices without immediately, if ever, presenting
residents with a search warrant. Law enforcement no longer needs
oversight or probable cause. So, be careful: Big Brother is watching.

Furthermore, this act states that citizens and non-citizens can be
on mere suspicion. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, more than 1,100
have been imprisoned. The charges against them remain undisclosed; even
their names and identities remain largely unknown. The Bush
admits these prisoners are not terrorists. So far, the FBI has racially
profiled and interrogated more than 5,000 recent immigrants. Those
immigrants Bush deems "terrorists" can be tried before closed military
tribunals rather than in open court.

In Orwell's society, citizens join the government in the suppression of
speech and thought; citizens constantly monitor neighbors and coworkers,
informing the government if a person seems "suspicious." Bush's
TIPS" makes such paranoid spying a reality. This program asks mail
deliverers, utility meter readers, truckers and other citizens to spy on
their neighbors and customers, and report any suspicious activity that
could be related to terrorism. A recent example of TIPS in action
just two weeks ago. Three men were detained, searched and interrogated
being overheard apparently joking about Sept. 11 at a restaurant in
Georgia. Bush and a federal law enforcement official in Washington
eventually exculpated the men, reporting they had no evident ties to

Increasingly, it seems we must all be wary of saying or doing anything
could be construed as subversive; after all, your neighbor might turn
in to the thought police. The reach of the thought police has even
to academia, where certain factions have attempted to stifle the free
exchange of ideas. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, for
example, has sought to "blacklist" more than 40 professors who were
"anti-American." One professor, an emeritus from the University of
was blacklisted for recommending that "we need to understand the reasons
behind the terrifying hatred directed against the U.S. and find ways to
that will not foment more hatred for generations to come." Even one of
Daily columnists has received threatening letters for suggesting that
foreign policy might be somewhat casually responsible for terrorism.

It seems that to be strong and united, we must silence all dissenting
voices. Attorney General John Ashcroft has declared that critics of the
Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 measures "only aid terrorists" and
"give ammunition to America's enemies." For this reason, the Bush
administration has explained we need to "suspend" certain liberties for
duration of the war.

The message is clear: To criticize America, right or wrong, is either to
unpatriotic or, worse, to be a terrorist sympathizer (Does anyone smell
McCarthyism yet?). It seems ignorant patriotism has become a virtue.

The Bush administration has heavily promoted the idea of ignorance as
strength. On this basis, it is making sure the media and American public
are kept ignorant. Invoking the excuse of national security, the Bush
administration has imposed heavy restrictions on what we can know. For
example, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security includes an
exemption from the Freedom from Information Act. Additionally, the
has disallowed journalists from accompanying American forces fighting in
Afghanistan and even from interviewing military personnel after their

In addition to this governmental censorship, the media has even censored
itself. CNN Chairman Walter Isaacson, for instance, ordered his news
to limit reports of Afghan casualties and to use World Trade Center
to justify the killing abroad. Furthermore, the largest U.S. radio
owner, Clear Channel, sent out an internal memo prohibiting certain
from being played on the air - including "Imagine" by John Lennon.

In Orwell's society, the duration of the war is never-ending, waged
an enemy that is ever-changing and ambiguous. The same is true of Bush's
declared "war on terrorism." This war has no fixed, geographical
definition. It is directed against an expansive "axis of evil" and a
shadowy faction known as al-Qaida. Moreover, this war has been estimated
continue indefinitely (current estimates say at least 10 years).

This ambiguous, protracted crusade is an efficient way to fuel the
and fear necessary to justify the Bush administration's seize of power.
With the winds of war behind him, and a 90 percent approval rating, Bush
has hurdled the checks and balances of the other two governmental
and has used "war" as an excuse to increase his dominance and serve his
administration's interests - for example, finishing his dad's business
Iraq or squelching opposition to NAFTA and the WTO.

To rally the war cry, Bush spews monosyllabic propaganda, simplistically
characterizing the terrorists' purpose to be to "attack our freedom,"
that those individuals and nations who oppose our policies are
"evil." We, of course by contrast, are righteous and good. Disregard our
past alliances with these "evil" regimes, our training and financing of
radical Islamist terrorists, our forcible replacements of democracies
dictatorships or any instances of our past foreign policy that might be
relevant to understanding why the United States is resented in many
of the world.

Terrorism isn't what terrifies me. I fear fear itself. As a result of
nation's fear, our constitution is being desecrated, civil rights are
trampled, and our democratic nation is degenerating into a fascist
Disturbingly, it seems the only inaccuracy of Orwell's prescient book is
that it was 17 years off.

Surely we must make some sacrifices in times of war, yet we must not
sacrifice the very principles upon which the United States was founded.
the words of one of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, "They that
give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve
neither liberty nor safety."

ICE - Investigating Curious Evidence
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