September 1, 2005

Orwellian Catch Phrases From Hell

By In Essays

Support our Troops
(“War is Peace”)

A few months ago, I heard a stand-up comic quip: “I don’t support the troops, but I support the war in Iraq.” Not the funniest one-liner I’ve ever heard, but a clever use of irony that illustrates an important point, namely, EVERYONE supports the troops in Iraq, and there is no reason to think you’re special because you do.

Nevertheless, George W. Bush and his very un-ironic supporters deliberately and deceitfully use the catch phrase as if it were an exclusionary badge of honor for them and them alone. Most recently, they’ve been using the slogan in the national media and on banners at political rallies to try to discredit Cindy Sheehan and her bring-the-troops-home supporters in Crawford, Texas.

This propaganda tactic reeks of Karl Rove, and it implies that individuals who support the policy of bringing the troops home as soon as possible do not support the troops and therefore are a bunch of unpatriotic, wussy liberals.

Unfortunately for Rove, the latest polls show that a majority of Americans– and not just wussy liberals-consider the war a mistake and do not believe Bush is doing a competent job of conducting it. In fact, Bush’s overall job approval rating is at the lowest point of his presidency. And if Bush supporters would take the time to unplug from their right-wing brainwashing matrix, they would realize their catch phrase, “Support our Troops,” really means three things:

1) Support an unnecessary war with no end in sight that has needlessly destroyed tens of thousands of lives and will cost the U.S. taxpayer over $300 billion.

2) Support George W. Bush and his administration of incompetent neocon ideologues, unabashed apologists for the Religious Right, and uncompromising shills for Big Oil and the military/industrial complex.

3) Support companies like Halliburton that are profiteering from the war to the tune of billions of dollars with no-bid contracts at the same time insurgents and terrorists in and out of Iraq are getting stronger, more lethal, and becoming more of a threat to Europe and America.

I’d be willing to bet that most Bush cheerleaders who place “Support Our Troops” decals on their cars do not understand the ramification of their actions, nor do they realize that their support will only serve to protract the death and destruction in Iraq and decrease the credibility of the United States at home and abroad. But in time they will come to understand this, just as former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, one of the “best and the brightest,” came to understand the untenable disaster of Vietnam.

Fair and Balanced
(“Ignorance is Strength”)

I don’t need a professional comic to make a joke about this line. It’s ridiculous as it stands. Why would a legitimate news organization go out of its way to tell you that it’s “fair and balanced”? That’s like a brain surgeon telling you he knows how to use a scalpel.

Only a con man or a propagandist would tell you the opposite of the truth and expect you to believe it. Can you picture Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow winking at the audience at the beginning of each broadcast and saying, “Oh, and by the way, all you dumb-asses out there, our news report is fair and balanced.”

The reality is that Fox News, which actually uses the catch phrase “fair and balanced” with a straight face, is owned by Republican Rupert Murdoch, perhaps the most ruthless right-wing tyrant in the communications industry. In addition, his news shows are run by Roger Ailes, another right-wing Republican hatchet man who worked for Ronald Reagan and George Bush Senior and was an architect of the 1988 Willie Horton campaign that deep-sixed Michael Dukakis. On top of that, Murdoch’s most popular so-called news commentators, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, are a neofascist’s wet dream, and are about as fair and balanced as the prison guards at Abu Ghraib.

So any American who watches Fox News as anything more than right-wing propaganda or abusrdist trash is out of his mind. Turn off the TV set and go see a shrink immediately. Better yet, go to the desert and meditate for 40 days, or until you finally realize what a total sucker you’ve been. If you don’t have a spiritual epiphany or realization of truth, then just kill yourself.

Born-again Christians
(“Freedom is Slavery”)

When did good old-fashioned, nice guy Christians become hard-edged born again zealots with an intolerant right-wing political agenda? I’ll tell you when: the day Ronald Reagan became president and gave credibility to all those bible-thumping hucksters like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson who supported his presidential campaign.

But can you think of two more mean-spirited, un-Christian-like hypocrites than Falwell and Robertson? For decades Falwell has been making a buck by attacking homosexuals and liberals and damning them to hell– at the same time keeping his mouth shut about corporate fraud and exploitation and the endless stream of lies and corruption in the Republican party.

And Robertson, who once ran for president and has millions of devoted followers (and dollars), is perhaps even more reprehensible. The latest insight into his twisted personality was when he called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, whose only crime is that he has been reducing the profits of U.S. oil corporations in his country and using the extra money to help the poor get better housing and education. God forbid the president of a country should follow the example of Christ and help the poor.

And that’s where the Orwellian catch phrase “born-again” comes in. If being a born-again Christian means following the examples of Falwell and Robertson and being a slave to their rightwing political ideology, then born-again Christians are not really Christians at all, since true Christians would be free to follow the example of Christ and practice the virtues of love and brotherhood and sharing, not hate and intolerance and greed.

I wish I had an upbeat conclusion to this piece, but the reality is that a large segment of the population in America believes in the aforementioned Orwellian catch phrases not as ironic literary devices, but as literal truth– the same way they believe in the Bible–even though Jesus Christ himself spoke almost exclusively in an oratorical style using metaphors and parables.

And ironically, as long as there are millions of Americans who continue to support George W. Bush and the Iraq War, get their information from Fox News, and trust the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, America will continue its descent into hell in the name of patriotism and God.

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