Newspeak is alive and well and living in the White House

by ray goodlass

My Daily Advertiser column for Tuesday 31 January 2017

There is much about the Trump administration that is eerily and frighteningly reminiscent of totalitarian regimes, including the Fascist and Nazi ones of the 1930s.

Extreme nationalism, xenophobia and racism are some examples, as are exclusivist immigration policies and the call to by-pass democratic processes and rule by decree or ‘executive orders’. War mongering is another example, as is the adoption of protectionist economic policies.

Wall building, either to keep people in or out, is another example, yet President Trump is going ahead with his Mexican Wall. Presumably he is blind to the problems such walls have caused over the decades.

Trump’s plans to return factory jobs to America also includes the rampant overturning of environmental protection policies, most notably, for the moment, approval of the Keystone pipeline, which President Obama had banned. Obama also did ameliorate, albeit to a small degree, America’s use of torture, which Trump seems hell bent on reviving.

However, the totalitarian trait exhibited by President Trump I would like to focus on in this week’s column is his use, by both himself and by members of his Administration, of what George Orwell’s satirical masterpiece of totalitarian dystopias, ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ referred to as Newspeak.

It was the official language of Oceania, a totalitarian state portrayed in the novel, created to meet the ideological needs of the all-controlling Party in power. It was designed to limit freedom of thought by eliminating political concepts such as free will, self-expression, personal individuality, peace, and so forth that were ideological threats to the regime of Big Brother and the Party.

Newspeak loudly, aggressively and boorishly surfaced in Trump’s vocabulary when he and his Administration tried to defend the blatant lie that his inauguration crowd numbers were as large as former President Obama’s.

Of course, we all saw the evidence as we watched coverage of the event. Every media outlet ran contrasting pictures, and it was as clear as the noses on all our faces that Trump’s numbers were way down on Obama’s. Trump’s numbers were also much smaller than the number of women who marched in protest both in Washington and across the country the following day – and world-wide too, of course. There were also very large crowds here in Australia

How did Trump & Co react? By blatantly lying, repeating over and over that his crowd numbers were larger, and when pressed by journalists to explain how this could be so by claiming to be in possession of ‘Alternative Facts’.

Of course, outright lies are what we have come to expect from Trump himself, but soon members of his newly appointed team chimed in, and the Newspeak Prize must go to Trump’s former campaign manager and now White House counsellor KellyAnne Conway when interviewed on NBC a couple of days later.

Tackling her on Press Secretary Spicer’s bizarre press conference the previous day, host Chuck Todd wanted her to explain the absurdity of Spicer being sent before the cameras to argue what Todd said were “provable falsehoods”. Conway was quick to respond by saying “You’re saying it’s a falsehood, but our press secretary Spicer gave alternative facts.” Alternative Facts are Newspeak for lies, Ms Conway.

George Orwell, you didn’t know how worse it could get, for in what claims to be “The land of the free and the home of the brave” Newspeak is clearly flourishing.

There is much about the Trump administration that is eerily and frighteningly reminiscent of totalitarian regimes, including the Fascist and Nazi ones of the 1930s.

Extreme nationalism, xenophobia and racism are some examples, as are exclusivist immigration policies and the call to by-pass democratic processes and rule by decree or ‘executive orders’. War mongering is another example, as is the adoption of protectionist economic policies.

Wall building, either to keep people in or out, is another example, yet President Trump is going ahead with his Mexican Wall. Presumably he is blind to the problems such walls have caused over the decades.

Trump’s plans to return factory jobs to America also includes the rampant overturning of environmental protection policies, most notably, for the moment, approval of the Keystone pipeline, which President Obama had banned. Obama also did ameliorate, albeit to a small degree, America’s use of torture, which Trump seems hell bent on reviving.

However, the totalitarian trait exhibited by President Trump I would like to focus on in this week’s column is his use, by both himself and by members of his Administration, of what George Orwell’s satirical masterpiece of totalitarian dystopias, ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ referred to as Newspeak.

It was the official language of Oceania, a totalitarian state portrayed in the novel, created to meet the ideological needs of the all-controlling Party in power. It was designed to limit freedom of thought by eliminating political concepts such as free will, self-expression, personal individuality, peace, and so forth that were ideological threats to the regime of Big Brother and the Party.

Newspeak loudly, aggressively and boorishly surfaced in Trump’s vocabulary when he and his Administration tried to defend the blatant lie that his inauguration crowd numbers were as large as former President Obama’s.

Of course, we all saw the evidence as we watched coverage of the event. Every media outlet ran contrasting pictures, and it was as clear as the noses on all our faces that Trump’s numbers were way down on Obama’s. Trump’s numbers were also much smaller than the number of women who marched in protest both in Washington and across the country the following day – and world-wide too, of course. There were also very large crowds here in Australia

How did Trump & Co react? By blatantly lying, repeating over and over that his crowd numbers were larger, and when pressed by journalists to explain how this could be so by claiming to be in possession of ‘Alternative Facts’.

Of course, outright lies are what we have come to expect from Trump himself, but soon members of his newly appointed team chimed in, and the Newspeak Prize must go to Trump’s former campaign manager and now White House counsellor KellyAnne Conway when interviewed on NBC a couple of days later.

Tackling her on Press Secretary Spicer’s bizarre press conference the previous day, host Chuck Todd wanted her to explain the absurdity of Spicer being sent before the cameras to argue what Todd said were “provable falsehoods”. Conway was quick to respond by saying “You’re saying it’s a falsehood, but our press secretary Spicer gave alternative facts.” Alternative Facts are Newspeak for lies, Ms Conway.

George Orwell, you didn’t know how worse it could get, for in what claims to be “The land of the free and the home of the brave” Newspeak is clearly flourishing.

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