Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Ministry of Truth

In George Orwell’s world. The Ministry of Truth was the government’s propaganda agency, the unit whose job was to rewrite history according to the government’s wishes. We need a Ministry of Truth in Washington. Or maybe we already have one. Consider the following:

You don’t have to be an archivist to find quotations from Washington in which Prime Minister Maliki in Iraq was hailed as just the kind of leader his country needed, a trustworthy ally of the United States who could be counted on to deliver, whatever the provocations.  The Ministry of Truth is today rewriting history to delete all those quotations.

In similar vein, the United States promoted itself as the world’s leading advocate for democracy, the principle that the people of a nation should be entitled to vote for their leaders. The vote, we said, was the ultimate guarantor of the peoples’ liberties. In Egypt, Ukraine, Syria, and now Iraq, the Ministry of Truth is rewriting history along the following lines: The leaders who are elected can be thrown out when the people show, by mass protests or by polls, that they want someone else.

President Obama lashes out at rich Wall Streeters by telling them they “can keep their homes in the Hamptons.” The President could have said “in the Hamptons or Martha’s Vineyard,” but the Ministry of Truth wouldn’t hear of it.

A terrific Front Line report on PBS recently revealed some of the falsehoods our government tells us in the name of security. It was called “The United States of Secrets.” I thought it was one of the best pieces of investigative journalism I’ve ever seen, and it was fair, affording the NSA chiefs ample opportunities to express their positions. But the take-away was that George Orwell's fantasy was increasingly realistic.