It’s 1984 all over again

“He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.”George Orwell wrote this line – a truth the likes of which rarely since or prior has been uttered – in his unbearably dystopian novel, 1984. For those who have not read it, the general plot is that London (and indeed, much of the world) has fallen under the rule of a totalitarian regime that has complete, dominant and perpetual control over… everything. By modifying the truth, law and the media, nothing escapes “Big Brother.” The ironically named Ministry of Truth controls all the lies told by Big Brother, allowing only “truthful” (i.e. those in tune with Big Brother’s ideas) stories to go to print. Good thing 1984 is just a story, right? Right?! “The U.S. Defense Department has set up a new unit to better promote its message across 24-hour rolling news outlets, and particularly on the internet. The Pentagon said the move would boost its ability to counter ‘inaccurate’ news stories and exploit new media,” BBC News reported on Oct. 31 of this year.Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, speaking on behalf of the newly created unit, said his main concern is that U.S. “enemies” (that ever so vague specter) will “manipulate the media.””That’s the one thing that keeps me up at night,” he said.Back to 1984 once again. Part of Big Brother’s manner of control is through a perpetual war – either with “Eurasia” or “Eastasia”, one of whom is always and interchangeably cast as the “enemy.” Through fear of their success (they being a foreign, unknowable and generally unseeable enemy…Al-Qaeda, anyone?) Big Brother is able to suspend any and all civil liberties, including – that’s right – freedom of speech. “If you speak out against Big Brother, the enemy wins!” An easy mantra to buy into if thinking is a little too much work and you care not about the Constitution.”Fear will keep the star systems in line, fear of this battle station,” Grand Moff Tarkin claimed in Star Wars. The “Tarkin Doctrine,” as my fellow nerds will recognize, was to rule through fear of a weapon of mass destruction, the Death Star. Sound familiar?This new media unit would, according to a Pentagon memo, “develop messages” for the 24-hour news cycle and “correct the record.”Obviously the “correct” message is any which falls in line with the administration’s ideals. We aren’t sliding down a slippery slope anymore folks – we’ve slid, our ass is burning from the friction and it’s our decision whether we stop ourselves before we hit the cold stone bottom of fascism.It’s very easy to dismiss what I’m saying as liberal, anti-Bush, Chicken Little-esque fear mongering. But government-sanctioned torture has suddenly become legal; the CIA has secret prisons; the U.S. government is illegally monitoring its own citizens. All because if we don’t do these, the terrorists win. What will it take to open your eyes to the chunks of sky spiraling down on Washington?Perhaps the most terrifying thing to happen to America in my 19 years is this blatant disregard for the U.S. Constitution, this abomination of all that the founding fathers created for our nation. When the government creates an “accurate” truth, the government controls what goes in the history books. When the government writes history, the government holds the trump card, forging the beliefs and knowledge of children.”He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.”