When you turn criminals into victims, you get more criminals. The corollary to this is that when you turn police into criminals you get fewer police. The results of this Orwellian role reversal of doublethink are playing out across America, from the streets of Seattle to the border of Mexico.
George Orwell based his dystopian novel 1984 on the horrors of the Stalinist Soviet Union. Elements of his fictional totalitarian state have proven eerily prescient decades later. There is the doublethink of political correctness and its demand to deny the obvious. The establishment media is 1984’s Ministry of Truth. And cancel culture is Room 101, where dissidents are sent, never to return.
Today’s newspeak is on full display as we are prodded and shamed into language intended to provide cover for a new agenda. Unsurprisingly, it is also ushering us into our own dystopian reality.
Seattle has been in the throes of riots for the better part of a year. What has been continual in Seattle has been habitual in other liberal cities across America. Arson, destruction, vandalism, looting, and attacks on law enforcement and the law-abiding alike are its inescapable images.
Yet what in other eras or localities — and for any other cause than one condoned by the Left — would be deemed riots are redefined as protests. Of course, this transformation simultaneously elevates the rioters into protesters, just as it is intended to elevate the lawless into the acceptable. The natural result is more riots.
At the country’s other end, since the year’s beginning there has been a surge in illegal border crossings. As has been the case for several years, despite the illegality of these attempts, those making them are not deemed to be doing anything illegal. When leftists define away the illegality, they send a clear signal that enforcement is not a priority. The natural result is of course more illegal immigration.
Elevating criminal actions and reducing enforcement have led to an increase in behavior that America formerly sought to prevent. Just because these actions have taken place on much larger and more serious levels does not alter illegal behavior’s incentives and disincentives equation. From speeding to littering to tax collection, if what had once been condemned is now condoned, expect more of it. From speeding to littering to tax collection, if what had been enforced is no longer, expect more of it. The same results occur — and the same results have occurred from Seattle to our Mexican border — from two different directions: increasing the incentive and decreasing the disincentive.
What the Left intend to obscure in the more serious cases of riots and illegal immigration is their attempted redefinition to a new normal — which of course for traditional purposes is abnormal. We are told that rioters are protesters and illegal immigrants are simply undocumented migrants.
We are supposed to be confused, if not redirected, by these new verbal cues. Yet those poised to take advantage of them, especially the Left, are not confused at all. For the Left there is no ambiguity, and they act accordingly, even as much of America is paralyzed in indecision and inaction.
The Left’s Orwellian vilification of law enforcement is only an accelerant to the process, emboldening the criminal and enfeebling the enforcer. In the riots and on the border, enforcement efforts have been denounced and denigrated. “Abolish ICE” and “Defund the police” are among the Left’s most favored mantras — shibboleths of social acceptability in their inner circle. Naturally with illegal activity’s disincentive lowered, the incentive to pursue it is effectively raised.
The culture the Left seek to enforce increasingly resembles elements from Orwell’s 1984. That makes sense; they and the government in that novel share the same leftist origins and goals. Their new language is not simply a passive-aggressive exercise of the Left; it is their aggressive-aggressive one. It is meant to enforce our behavior and cover the Left’s actions.
The Left’s use of Orwellian language is meant to avoid consequences they wish to evade, but far from being free of consequences it produces new consequences of its own. It is long past time for today’s leftists to answer whether or not these consequences are intended. It is also long past time for most Americans to admit that these consequences are not desired and no longer acceptable.
J.T. Young served under President George W. Bush as the director of communications in the Office of Management and Budget and as deputy assistant secretary in legislative affairs for tax and budget at the Treasury Department. He served as a congressional staffer from 1987 through 2000.