In George Orwell's classic "1984," double-think, thought crime and disinformation were the major themes. Regardless of the truth, citizens found it necessary to selectively remember and forget events to stay on the right side of the powers-that-be in the government. And of course, the agency responsible for it all was named the Ministry of Truth. What else?
One of the most remarkable things about this work of genius is that although it was written in 1947, Orwell had the prescience to see the seeds of such evil decades ahead of their becoming obvious. This has led me to suggest to friends that even if they had read it earlier, they should consider revisiting it every 2 to 3 years. They would be astounded at recent manifestations of his observations made 60 years ago.
Although Big Brother personified the oppressive government that demanded complete obedience, it isn't a long stretch to discern how we arrive there incrementally. The operative word may now be "spinning" to describe an absence of truth, but I'm still old fashioned enough to prefer the word "lying." That's what it is.
Several cases are perfect demonstrations, the most recent being Rush Limbaugh using the term "phony soldiers." Anyone who listens to the tape knows that he is speaking of people who were never in the military who claim to have been or were in short periods and then made up stories of their exploits. He was most certainly not speaking of genuine veterans who oppose the Iraq war. But facts never seem to get in the way of attempts to silence conservative voices. In Washington, it's considered axiomatic that if something is repeated three times; it becomes "common knowledge" and is accepted as fact. The number of liberals repeating this lie about Rush is multiples of that. They smell blood in the water and are frothing at the mouth at the thought of destroying our most effective thinker and communicator.
As I've written before, the same syndrome was in evidence in the Valerie Plame case, who was not a covert agent.
And though resigned Attorney General Gonzales did a miserable job in defending his actions in dismissing various U.S. Attorneys (which resulted in even strong conservatives such as Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma calling for his resignation), the fact is that Bill Clinton's attorney general, Janet Reno, fired all 93 U.S. attorneys, and there was hardly a whimper. The U.S. attorneys serve at the will of the President and nothing illegal was done. But the Demos screamed so loud and often that they finally got Gonzales' head and convinced a large majority of the country that a crime had been committed.
One has to give the devil his due in admitting that they've had some political success with their defamation. But at what price to the country? Is truth really dispensable in the service of political advantage?
Genuine disagreements on policy are part and parcel of our system and this surely includes major issues such as going to war. Reasoned debate is healthy. We can deal with those and allow the people to decide at the ballot box which side to take. But outright lies should give all sides pause. Nothing is more important than truth. If we abandon that, we might find that the only mistake Orwell made in 1947 was naming it 1984. We've already established his timing was wrong for that year or even 2007. But if we continue on this path, by the centennial of the book, it may have become a mirror of what used to be the good ole USA.
Gary Hofmeister is the owner and operator of Hofmeister Personal Jewelers in downtown Steamboat, a company he founded in 1973. He is a Director of the Conservative Leadership Council of Northwest Colorado and a former Republican nominee for Congress in the 10th District of Indiana. He made 18 trips to the former USSR to teach democratic-capitalism during the 1990's.