I’ve been giving some thought recently to doublespeak, the concept introduced in George Orwell’s novel 1984 that entails people accepting two opposing positions at the same time. Orwell’s examples of this seemingly ridiculous method of control were phrases like “freedom is slavery” and dismal things like that, but these days it’s pretty easy to come up with some more relevant examples.
For starters, there’s always the constant praise of the troops, their bravery and the overwhelming need to support them. Support Bush’s foreign policy, support the troops, you’re good to go. The question is this: If Bush’s policies are on the troops’ side, what am I to make of his cutting $14.6 billion in vets’ programs, including money for disabilities caused by war wounds, health care, pensions for low income veterans, education and housing benefits, and even burial benefits? And why would the administration fight against raises in imminent danger pay, given to soldiers in combat zones, and family separation allowances, which goes to help military families pay rent, childcare or other expenses while soldiers are away? By this logic, supporting the troops means sending them on invasions and cutting their pay.
Then there’s the relatively new claim that we didn’t go to Iraq to make America safer, but because we love the Iraqi people and nobly want them to control their own country without that bully Saddam. However, when the American-appointed government announces reforms to allow 100 percent foreign ownership of every aspect of the country with the exception of oil, I’m guessing it’s a bit tough for Iraqis to steer their country’s destiny. That means everything, from telecommunications and electricity to pharmaceuticals, can be bought by multinational corporations, who can put whatever price they want on these services and take every cent of profit out of the country. Strangely, this sounds like the exact opposite of handing the Iraqi people control of their country.
In fairness, it could be said that all of this is no more than liberal ramblings, and the Bush administration is making our country safer from external threats, no matter how uncouth their methods. But if that’s true, it’s hard to explain why they are shortchanging the Nunn-Lugar program, the bipartisan effort to dismantle the nuclear arsenal of the former Soviet Union, which has massive amounts of nuclear material sitting around with scanty security. Instead, I guess they’ll just up the funding for new military toys and missile defense shields to protect us against those freedom-hating terrorists, who last attacked us with box-cutters.
Domestic doublespeak shouldn’t be left out, so I submit to you, in one example of many, the Healthy Forests Initiative: To make forests healthier, we must cut them down. Rather than focus the trimming near communities, where overgrown forests really do pose a potential threat to people sometimes, the initiative gives timber companies the ability to log larger, commercially lucrative trees deep within national forests. On top of this, it also calls on Congress to relax environmental review of these logging projects, limiting the public’s ability to provide input or file appeals. I could also mention the billions of dollars cut from education, social security, Medicare, etc., using sarcastically named programs like “No Child Left Behind”, but there’s simply not enough room to discuss all them here.
So I guess what I have to close is a request: Could someone please explain all of this away for me in a convincing way? These blatant contradictions are hurting my head almost as much as those who preach them.
Daily Nexus staff writer Drew Atkins is a doubleplusgood duckspeaker.