Ministry of Truth
Updated: Nov 6
This past weekend, former Clinton Labor Secretary, Robert Reich called for the establishment of a “Truth and Reconciliation commission to… name every official, politician, executive, and media mogul whose greed and cowardice enabled this catastrophe[Trump’s Election].”
This should scare everyone to their core. Not only is this a direct threat to go after the politicians of the opposing party, it is a veiled threat to go after those who supported and voted for those politicians. This is stuff that happens in third world dictatorships. Are people going to be prosecuted and locked away for exercising their Constitutional rights to vote for certain candidates? Why because they claim that politician happened to tell some lies? Can anyone name one politician who has never told a lie?
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission sounds eerily similar to the Ministry of Truth found in George Orwell’s 1984. When Orwell released his book in the late-40’s, people referred to it as prophetic. But actually, the book was a keen study on human nature.
We do not need a Ministry of Truth. Whose truth? Which one of us has cornered the market on the truth? There is very little truth in politics these days from either side of the aisle. And very few politicians or political pundits interested in the truth regardless of how eloquently they claim they long for it. They spew not only spin and slant, but outright lies. In one breath, prominent politicians are claiming “the American people just want the truth”, and in the next breath the same politicians are peddling their party talking points of disinformation.
These politicians do not want the truth. They want their truth, and their truth is whatever is politically expedient for them. During the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney-Barrett, Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii scolded Justice Barrett for using the term “sexual preference”. “It [sexual preference] is used by anti-LGBTQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice,” Senator Hirono said.
But on September 25, 2020, prominent Gay Rights publication The Advocate tweeted out a story that said, “young people who are just comfortable with who they are, no matter what their sexual preference is.” Two weeks before Amy Coney-Barrett used the term “sexual preference”, that term was not offensive. Senator Hirono admonished Justice Barrett, not to be correct, but to try to score a political point; claiming she was an anti-LGBTQ bigot. So, to do that, we must change the language, and Merriam Webster was more than willing to comply. That evening after this exchange, Merriam Webster’s on-line dictionary changed the definition of the term “sexual preference” to include the term “offensive”. If you can change the language, you can change the truth.
But, we change the language all the time to fit narratives; torture becomes enhanced interrogation; lies become alternative facts; innocent civilian deaths become collateral damage; death penalty becomes capital punishment; prison becomes a correction facility; a coup becomes a regime change; genocide becomes ethnic cleansing; abortion becomes terminating a pregnancy; riots become mostly peaceful protests; concentration camps become re-education facilities.
This harkens back to Orwell’s 1984 where at the Ministry of Truth, slogans such as, "WAR IS PEACE," "FREEDOM IS SLAVERY" and "IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH" were hung everywhere.
In the novel, the main character, Winston Smith is interrogated by an official at the Ministry of Truth named, O’Brien. O’Brien holds up four fingers, and asks, “How many fingers, Winston?”
Winton replies, “four.” And an electric shock is sent through his body. They repeat this until O’Brien tells Winston, "Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once".
After this excessive torture, Winston finally agrees that the four fingers being held up are actually five. To which O’Brien says, “No, Winston, that is no use. You are lying. You still think there are four. How many fingers, please?” And the torture continues.
It is not good enough to simply say what they want you to say, you must believe what they want you believe, even if what they want you to believe is not true. And this is what’s going on in our country today. Consensus determines the truth even if that truth is a lie.
No one is having electric shocks sent through their bodies, but people are being cancelled from social media, fired from their jobs, having their livelihoods taken from them because they said the wrong word or expressed a non-approved political thought. And now we have this call for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to punish people for their political beliefs.
George Orwell said, “in a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Maybe, just maybe, in this day and age of unadulterated mendacity, the people being canceled, fired and brought up in front of the Truth Commission are the real revolutionaries.