Monday, February 22, 2016

We've always been at war with Eastasia

Wow, the media and this administration are like "1984."

"To fix this to conform to the new political reality, the Tsarnaev's were reclassified as "asylees" (asylum seekers) rather than "refugees".

"To make this reclassification work, history had to be re-written. The Winston Smith's of the world had to go backward in time to edit old stories to conform to the new reality."

We've always been at war with Eastasia

Our media is surprisingly Orwellian, and it's not always due to government control. People practice "doublethink" at their own volition, without a Thought Police. Social media (Twitter, Facebook) are instituting their own private Thought Police. Online journalism now means that the press is free to edit old articles, to change past reporting to conform to new political realities.

Consider the example in the book 1984 regarding the ongoing war between the three superstates of Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia (representing English, Russian, and Chinese empires respectively).

At the start of the book, Oceania is at war with Eurasia. They have always been at war with Eurasia. That's the political consensus, and all historic documents agree. However, Winston Smith (the protagonist) remembers a time five years ago when Oceania was instead at war with Eastasia. Winston Smith struggles with philosophical idea of "truth". Which is more true, what everyone knows and what's in the newspapers, or the memories within his head?

Then Ocean's allegiance switched back again. On the sixth day of Hate Week, as crowds gathered to denounce Eurasia, the Party switched enemies to Eastasia. In a particularly rousing speech against their enemy, the speaker was handed a slip of paper, and in mid-sentence, without pause, without change in content or tone, he changed the name of the enemy he was speaking against to Eastasia. Eurasia was now their dearest friends. Those holding banners denouncing their enemy were suddenly embarrassed to discover they had unaccountably written the wrong name, and quickly trampled and destroyed them.

This change meant work for Winston in the Ministry of Truth:
Oceania was at war with Eastasia: Oceania had always been at war with
Eastasia. A large part of the political literature of five years was now
completely obsolete. Reports and records of all kinds, newspapers, books,
pamphlets, films, sound-tracks, photographs--all had to be rectified at
lightning speed. Although no directive was ever issued, it was known that
the chiefs of the Department intended that within one week no reference
to the war with Eurasia, or the alliance with Eastasia, should remain in
existence anywhere. 

Last November, the Tsarnaev brothers (the "Boston Bombers") were "refugees". News articles from all the mainstream news outlets agreed, such as The Washington Post, the Atlantic, Time magazine, the UN/VOA, Vanity Fair, the Huffington Post, Nobody disputed that description. Even Wikipedia described them as "refugees".

Then terrorists attacked Paris, killing 129 innocents. A Syrian passport was found, making it look like terrorists inserted one of their own into the stream of refugees flowing into Europe. This created political backlash in America, where the House of Representatives passed a bill to hinder Syrian refugees coming into the country.

The other, pro-refugee side, has fought back, claiming that no refugee in American has ever committed a terrorist act. It's at this point that the Tsarnaev's become an embarrassing counter example, since indeed they committed the worst terrorist attack since 9/11.

To fix this to conform to the new political reality, the Tsarnaev's were reclassified as "asylees" (asylum seekers) rather than "refugees".

To make this reclassification work, history had to be re-written. The Winston Smith's of the world had to go backward in time to edit old stories to conform to the new reality.

For example, the Wikipedia page on Tsarnaev changed, purging the word "refugee" and replacing it with "asylee".

Wikipedia is just the start. The mainstream media likewise went back and "fixed" their embarrassing mistakes in news articles. If you search for "tsarnaev refugee" for dates before the Paris attacks, the top result is this article from the Washington Post. The Washington Post edited this article, purging the word "refugee" from both the title and the contents, either replacing it with "asylee" or rewording things. Here's a picture of the original title/lead, followed by the new version. The date of this change was November 19, 2015 -- in other words, specifically in response to the Paris debate.

What unreal about this change is that "refugee" and "asylee" refer to the same people. It's like how "emigrant" (or "emigree")  and "immigrant" refer to the same people, just with a different focus. One (emigrant, refugee) focuses on leaving the original country. The other (immigrant, asylee) focuses on arriving in a new country. But to arrive in one country is to leave another -- it's the same person doing both.

They are saying the Tsarnaev's are no longer Chechen emigrants/refugees, but now American immigrants/asylees. This reclassification is technically correct, because they arrived in American first, then applied for asylum status, unlike those applying from refugee camps in and around Syria. But this technicality doesn't change who they are. Being American immigrants/asylees doesn't change the fact that they are also refugees/emigrants fleeing strife in Chechnya.

In English, the word "asylee" isn't really used. Sure, it's technically a word, but used so seldomly that it's not included in spellcheck dictionaries. That's why I enabled spellcheck when creating the above picture, to demonstrate this issue -- spellcheck underlines the word in red. Most people have never heard of the word "asylee". Go to the local bar and ask random people what the word means. They'll just look at you funny. Indeed, your first hurdle will be the fact that you aren't sure how to pronounce it right yourself. According to Google's Ngrame, "refugee" is preferred over "asylee" by a 250:1 ratio in the English language.

For journalists, since both words are valid, but one is rare and confusing, the correct word to use is "refugee". This is especially true when it's the emigration side being stressed, as in the above Washington Post article. While you can make a case for discussing "asylees in America", the correct word in the article would be "refugees fleeing war". I just verified that the AP Stylebook has a reference for "refugee" but no entry for "asylee".

This post isn't about refugees, but Orwelianism. What's shown here is retroactive changing of history to conform to the new political consensus. It's doublethink, as people strive to change their own thinking. It's newspeek, as people try to change what others believe by changing the words used to express those ideas. It's also about the mainstream press, which has become part of the corrupt establishment, obviously violating every principle of journalism in order to exercise power.

Robert Graham


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