Tuesday, June 5, 2007
By Julian Delasantellis
"If there's one group that knew a thing or two about the acquisition and maintenance of political power, it would have been Ingsoc, the dictatorial power elite (its name a bastardization of "English socialism") from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. "Who controls the past," Ingsoc told its cadres, "controls the future: who controls the present, controls the past."
What this meant was that, if you had a governing elite or ideology that felt it lacked the requisite historical legitimacy to rule, all you had to do was go back and change the historical record to one that better suited the elite's current needs.
In Nineteen Eighty-Four, this mission was tasked to the feared "Ministry of Truth", where party functionaries, among them the story's protagonist, Winston Smith, searched historical records - in Smith's case, through old copies of The Times of London - to excise historical events or personages that had fallen out of favor with the party. This now inopportune "incorrect" history would then be sent down the "memory hole"; party "newspeak" for the incinerator.......
Until very recently, many commentators have noted how uncritically the US news media accepted the Bush administration's prewar prevarications, and then the ongoing optimistic assessments regarding the Iraq war. This is in marked contrast to the early days of Vietnam, where in-country journalists such as Neal Sheehan and the late David Halberstam produced and had published realistic depictions of the wildly mendacious and ineffective prosecution of the war that ultimately caused it to be lost. Even in the early 1960s, their realistic portrayals starkly contrasted with the sunny optimism of officials in Washington and Saigon.
This dearth of contemporary journalistic honesty and courage should not be surprising, since the reporting of the US media in Vietnam is a major sore point for Vietnam revisionists. Supposedly, by doing their job and telling the truth about the war, the US media weakened public support for the war, once again, allegedly causing the US to lose a war on the home front that it had been winning on the battlefield.......
....the (Iraq) war still enjoys enough support to thwart all legislative efforts to bring it to a quick conclusion. This is because, although veterans groups such as the American Legion and the Swift Boaters may have accepted Vietnam revisionism explicitly, most of the rest of the society has also accepted it implicitly......"