All opinions don’t matter. It’s not that opinions are lies. But they could be.
Dogs have six tails.
If this is an opinion someone wishes to hold, fine. If mental illness isn’t playing a role in the formation of this opinion, fine. If this is an opinion someone wishes to broadcast publicly, I would then expect others to rebuke this individual. Don’t call the police! And leave the shotgun where it is! But I would expect family and friends to see in the reality this person advocates something at best questionable.
Facts matter. Uninformed opinions is another matter.
I’m sitting in the sunroom at the senior complex where I live when two white women enter and take seats. The space is too small for two to have a conversation while another reads or works at a computer. So I save my work and greet the two women. I’m familiar with these two. As things go here in this building and in this small village located in Wisconsin, they are the “nice” ones, although one of the women informed me a week or so back that her masks were slow to deliver—because of the protesters!
So here we are and it’s not long before the conversation really begins. Despite my presence!
It’s about the “looters.” Those destroyers of property. And both women are looking at me, one directly and the other looking askance at me.
Perhaps it’s because of my presence!
These looters destroyed property.
Her friend still looking askance at me chimed in: And destroying property is wrong.
Neither women referred to George Floyd. Neither asked how I felt about this death. How I felt about the protesters. Black Lives Matter.
But there were Italians! Back in the day! The second woman volunteers a story about her struggling Italian family ending the narrative with a “what about them?” Huh?
All lives matter!
That would be racist, I tell her. Wouldn’t it?
Your family of Italians became white at some point!
And now the first woman wants to offer me proof of those “looters.” She has video! On her cell phone! Actual footage of “looters”!
Democrats are paying these looters to destroy property! Blacks are being led by the nose by these democrats!
She’s trying to hand me her cell phone! She a “nice” one here. A friendly one. Someone, I’m sure who would never think herself racist or anti-Black.
I’m Black last I checked. And she’s asking me in the second week of July to look at videos of looters!
I don’t need to see your footage of looters. I think by now I know how to research on the Internet.
That didn’t sit well with her. She has a son! And her son sent this footage of looters!
Is it possible to inform her that her son might be living in a reality that doesn’t recognize my humanity? Is it possible for me to ask her how did she raise this son to interact with people of color? Is it possible for me to ask why would she even be proud of a son who would send her footage of looters, as if to suggest that all the protesters, the Blacks and whites and Latinx and Indigenous protesters, are all looters controlled by Democrats?
And what reality do these two women live in if not one that denies the legitimacy of 400 years of systemic oppression and injustice suffered by Black, Indigenous, Latinx people in the US. It’s not possible, however, to recognize how these two women actively engage in the crafting of a narrative that erases an historical events and replace it with a narrative that consists only of looters, claiming this then to be the truth, the only truth, and nothing but the truth.
For what happens to George Floyd? What happens to the protesters and their claims of injustice? Their claims of white supremacy?
It’s hard to respond to such ignorance. Deliberate ignorance.
These radicals are dangerous.
I’m a radical! (And that’s what she wants to hear, isn’t it?).
I could show you some sources for information…
No, I don’t need to do that. I have my son…
Here are the Americans I decided long ago, after Trump took office, that I couldn’t embrace because to do so would be to embrace ignorance, deliberate ignorance. White supremacy.
Racism was the elephant in that sun room, sitting among us.
Here are the people suspicious of reality as described by those who are Black, Latinx, and Indigenous. As a Black in America, I know that this form of suspicion might also point to a refusal to accept Black people as anything worthy of their attention. To do so, would be to acknowledge their responsibility in the history of conquest and enslavement.
Anti-Black is a symptom Trump shares with many white Americans. We are living in an America that can’t accept the truth—and that truth is that white America today is implicated in the maintenance of white supremacy.
Anti-Black is a symptom Trump shares with many white Americans. We are living in an America that can’t accept the truth—and that truth is that white America today is implicated in the maintenance of white supremacy. All pervasive and deep. Yet, despite the protests and Black Lives Matter movement, some Americans keep pointing to images of “looters” as if the 400 years of America’s worship of violence against Black Americans will disappear. Down a memory hole.
Since I refuse to nod in agreement with these two women, I refuse to accept their reality of “looters,” I refuse to subjugate myself for their benefit, I’ll become their target—for elimination. It’s not over the top; it’s the reality Black Americans face in US. There’s the outright killing of Micheal Brown, Gorge Floyd, or Tamir Rice. And there’s the day-to-day feeding of Black lives to a memory hole where we expelled from employment, housing, education. Many end up in prison or in sub-standard housing. Others still are subjected to their “disappearance” from family and society, relegated to homelessness.
I would have to pretend that I believed in the lies. And lies, Winston Smith understood, pass into history, and become truth. “‘Who controls the pass,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’”
No one does facts the way Big Brother does in Oceania. Asks Winston. He loves his job at the Ministry of Truth in the Records Department. He knows all about ideas and people disappearing. That is, ideas and people being vaporized. Staff at the Ministry of Truth are in love with that word. Vaporized. Adrift with Winston as he sits at his desk, working, we follow his thoughts as he recalls his parents. Vaporized. He knew others who were vaporized too.
No history, past, or present…
His co-worker (over there), is a woman whose sole job is to remove the names of people, permanently. From existence.
No history, past or present…
We are taken, in Winston’s mind, to the print shops where experts skilled at “faking” photographs engage in the vaporizing operation too. “And somewhere or other, quite anonymous, there were the directing brains who coordinated the whole effort and laid down the lines of policy which made it necessary that this fragment of the past should preserved, that one falsified, and the other rubbed out of existence.”
Yes, Winston, too, vaporizes truth. Indirectly. But nonetheless.
His primary job isn’t to “reconstruct the past” but, rather, to supply Oceania with “newspapers, films, textbooks, telescreen programs, plays, novels—in other words, he is part of the system that produces what citizens are to think, so they don’t have to think. If that makes sense! It should make sense; it’s not that so different from our current reality in 2020.
If in 1984 the Records Department supplies all forms of entertainment and more crucially information for its citizenry, why should we be surprised to find the presence of this phenomena already in reality?
It’s not as if the world hasn’t experienced deadly regimes that insisted that human beings negate the idea of freedom and subjugate themselves to enslavement. It shouldn’t be a surprise that ignorance is sought after as a form of bliss and the use of the intellect is suspect. And war—war is more profitable we know than peace. What is peace if not the acknowledge that Black lives matter so then all lives could finally begin to matter?
The decision as to what to watch on telescreens, then, will be left to those who know! Leave the decision to the word of Big Brother! Just watch, listen, absorb.
The task of making life easy for fellow citizens rest with the staff at the Records Department in the Ministry of Truth. As for Wilson, he doesn’t lie. The department doesn’t lie. The department as an essential component of the Ministry of Truth is all about the truth. Not lies.
So the Records Department which produces news, films, and novels, produces truth, does a great service to humanity by eliminating lies. “Fabrications.” That’s Winston’s job. “However, in his present position he was invisible.” He could stop and become “lost in a monstrous world where he himself was the monster.” Could it be possible that this Party, this system, this way of being “endure” forever? But what good would it do him to think. “He was alone” where the “past was dead” and “the future unimaginable.”
So Winston does his job. He sends what are damnable “lies” down wastepaper tubes nicknamed the memory holes. Forever forgotten. The past is history, obliterated.
In Records, then, dozens of citizens of Oceania work on the project of “fabrication,” that is, “truth.” One person’s version of “what Big Brother had actually said” is selected and then that selection is subjected to “re-editing” and what’s re-edited sets “in motion the complex process of cross-referencing that would be required, and then the chosen lie would pass into the permanent records and become truth.”
And everything change and does, Winston muses. A “fact” today is a “lie” tomorrow in Oceania.
Winston, today, works on the narrative he calls, Comrade Ogilvy. The Comrade doesn’t exist. But in “a few lines of print and a couple of faked photographs,” thanks to that photo shop, Comrade Ogilvy will take on flesh! Winston’s creation will breathe and live among humans. And Winston would have done this job for the glory and honor of Big Brother.
Speaking, then, in Big Brother speak, he announces the existence of Comrade Ogilvy, “unimagined an hour ago.” Comrade Ogilvy “was now a fact.”
Lies pass into history…
Looters today, looters tomorrow, looters forever.
Memory holes proliferate, even while protesters are growing in numbers, unafraid to take to the streets, and taking upon themselves the right to effect change. The dissemination of memory holes continues, and we should expect the fearful and hateful will fight to the death to maintain all glory and honor to Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy. We should expect “similar slits” existing “in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building.” In other words, an operation we see being played out in the removal of judges and legal departments who, in turn, are replaced by no-thinking machine men and women. Yes, men and women. Winston, without conscious. Doing the job of eliminating truth.
Because, at the end of the day, the truth is being looted.
Many of Americans don’t see Oceania in America. They have been told to worry about what those protesters want to take away from them! They who worked so hard for generations! We are being robbed by those “looters.” Sowing division makes it so much easier for the sons and daughters still hard t work to vaporize the inconvenient reality of white violence.
Those with nothing will take everything from me!
Fox News is the altar on which the high priest, Trump, disseminates to sons and daughters the greatness of memory holes. Memory holes, then, is the god that is feed daily human beings to the point of sheer absurdity.
Vaporize, vaporize, vaporize.
We who protests are hearing the echo of generations of sheep behaving, as Winston notes in 1984, with “paralyzing stupidity” and “imbecile enthusiasm.”
I, a little like Winston, sat giving the time of day to people for whom America is white and always has been white. When I should have gathered by laptop and backpack and left the sunroom because embracing this brand of ignorance isn’t an option. Truth is at stake like the climate is changing and global warming is melting to glaciers. The oceans are rising. The temperatures are rising.
The photo shops do a good job!
And so do the Winstons who see the memory hole coming for them but just keep on stepping on the neck of truth.
But, in the end, embracing the real looters, isn’t an option. The real looters are losing their foothold on reality.