Orwell’s Ghost is Laughing, by Justin Raimondo

That the government lies a lot is not exactly news. Justin Raimondo parses Obama administration lies about US involvement in Syria, at antiwar.com:

What’s the difference between “boots on the ground” and military personnel wearing boots who are engaged in combat – and perhaps dying – on the ground? If you can answer that question convincingly, perhaps you’d like to apply for John Kirby’s job, because he’s not doing it very successfully. Kirby is the State Department spokesman who, in answer to a question from a reporter about the 250 US troops being sent to Syria, denied President Obama ever said there’d be “no boots on the ground” in Syria. Here’s the video, and here’s the relevant transcript:

“Kirby: there was never this – there was never this, “No boots on the ground.” I don’t know where this keeps coming from.

Question: But yes there – well, yes, yes, there was.

Kirby: There was no – there was – no there wasn’t. There was –

Question: More than –

Question: What?

Kirby: We’re not going to be involved in a large-scale combat mission on the ground. That is what the President has long said.”

To anyone who has been following this, Kirby’s argument is patently absurd. The President told the BBC less than twenty-four hours previously that there would be “no boots on the ground” – and then his administration announced that 250 more booted US soldiers would be treading Syrian ground. Not only that, but prior to the summer of last year, the President assured the American people there’d be no “boots on the ground” a total of sixteen times.

As George Orwell dramatized in Nineteen Eighty-Four, and also in this memorable essay, the degeneration of language into an instrument of concealment is one of the hallmarks of the modern age. In the novel, there is a vast apparatus concerned solely with erasing the past in order to justify the actions of the present: the Obama administration doesn’t have the power to do that, and yet thinks it can achieve the same ends by simply denying what everyone knows to be true, as shown by Kirby’s surreal exchange with reporters:

“Question: The point is is that for months and months and months that the mantra from the President and everyone else in the Administration has been, ‘No boots on the ground’ and now –

“Kirby: No, that is not true.

Question: What?

Kirby: It’s just not true, Matt.

Question: It is.

Question: Mr. Kirby –

Kirby: It’s just not true.

Question: It’s true.

Kirby: No, it’s not. I just flatly, absolutely disagree with you …”

When you are dealing with a liar, it’s important to parse every word, every syllable, in order to tease real meaning out of the tissue of dissimulations – and, indeed, if we go back and do this with the President’s pronouncements over the past few years on this question, we get a sense that what is being said is not quite what we are hearing. And that, as Orwell pointed out, is the purpose of most political speech.

If you listen hard, you can hear Orwell’s ghost laughing.

To continue reading: Orwell’s Ghost is Laughing

One response to “Orwell’s Ghost is Laughing, by Justin Raimondo

  1. Reblogged this on The way I see things … and commented:
    “Kirby: there was never this – there was never this, “No boots on the ground.” I don’t know where this keeps coming from.

    Question: But yes there – well, yes, yes, there was.

    Kirby: There was no – there was – no there wasn’t. There was –

    Question: More than –

    Question: What?

    Kirby: We’re not going to be involved in a large-scale combat mission on the ground. That is what the President has long said.”

    Like

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