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We’re All Emmanuel Goldsteins Now

Posted on March 30 2010 1:05 pm
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It was nearly eleven hundred, and in the RECORDS DEPARTMENT, they were dragging the chairs out of the cubicles and grouping them in the centre of the hall opposite the big telescreen, in preparation for the Two Minutes Hate….

The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one’s teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one’s neck. The Hate had started.

As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen.

George Orwell understood better than most the importance of a caricatured common-enemy to any totalitarian regime, and Emmanuel Goldstein and the Two Minutes Hate in “1984” is the one of most powerful literary distillations of this.

Current examples of Goldstein aren’t difficult to find. In the Middle East generations of Arab leaders have successfully diverted attention from their squalid little police states by demonizing Israel. Closer to home it is clear that in the aftermath of the Health Care Bill fiasco someone in the inner circle slapped his forehead and exclaimed “listen, if it worked for Arafat …”

In 2010 we don’t have telescreens – we have MSNBC – but the intent is the same.  Through the constant drum-beat of “violence and extremism on the Right” – with virtually no evidence to support any of these isolated claims, much less generalize them to a trend – it is clear that anyone who opposes the Health Care Bill is being fitted for the Goldstein mask. It is hoped that if enough people can be coaxed into this Two Minutes Hate they will be distracted from an examination of what a true Platypus-from-Hell this Health Care Bill is, and more generally the fact their government is metastasizing in front of their very eyes.

This would be egregious enough if it wasn’t such an obvious inversion of the truth. Examples abound, but in the interests of brevity:

  • Among many others who don’t seem to have gotten the memo were the group of budding young commissars who succeeded in preventing Coulter from speaking last week, using standard methods of discourse such as sticks, rocks and overturned furniture.  (I know the good burghers of Ottawa slept better that night, knowing their hitherto unknown right not to be exposed to anything these protestors disagreed with, had been upheld – but I digress.)
  • More recently Karl Rove was prevented from speaking at a book-signing in Beverly Hills last night by another staunch gate-keeper of liberty – Code Pink.  I am sure as Karl Rove watched that loony-toon advance towards him with a pair of handcuffs for the purposes of making a “citizen’s arrest” (video here)  he was thinking – sometime after “my gosh, do they still make hats like that” – that the sheer radical lunacy of the Conservative movement had gotten out of hand.

(Further examples of the mindset from John Hawkins. Offensive language warning.)

This, for any of my Liberal readers, is materially worse than drawing little targets on a map to indicate vulnerable congressional districts. There are no examples of parallel behavior from the Right – including Tea Partiers in DC who watched the Democrats do everything but run up the steps of the Capitol Building wearing ski masks and shoulder bags marked “SWAG.”

This, of course, is lost on the Left, which needs Emmanuel Goldstein and the Two Minutes Hate like it needs its crisis-of-the-week.

Because, truth be told, it’s all they have left.

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