If you have read George Orwell’s classic novel,1984, then you remember the preceding absurd statements published by the Ministry of Truth. CliffNotes.com explains:

Crucial to manipulating the language and the information individuals receive are doublethink and Newspeak. Doublethink is the act of holding, simultaneously, two opposite, individually exclusive ideas or opinions and believing in both simultaneously and absolutely.  Moustaki, Nikki, and Gilbert Borman.

When I first read the book, the year 1984 was yet twenty years into my future. It never occurred to me that fifty years later, I would be witnessing such blatant examples of Doublethink and Newspeak.

Kellyanne Conway’s assertion that Trump spokesman Sean Spicer was using “alternative facts” was more than shocking – it was classic Doublethink .

During the campaign I caught an afternoon interview with MSNBC’s Craig Melvin and the Republican Party’s Sean Spicer. On loan to the Trump campaign, Spicer was attempting damage-control following the obviously plagiarized Melania Trump speech, 

The doublethink was on full display in the July 19, 2016 interview.  Spicer insisted that the similarities in the speeches of Melania Trump and Michelle Obama were completely coincidental, that no fair-minded person should conclude that Ms. Obama’s speech was used in Ms. Trump’s speech.

Only by doublethinking could I accept that an obvious example of plagiarism was really an unfortunate collection of oft-used quotations.

Spicer even brought a list of similar expressions from various sources, including children’s animated series unicorn Twilight Sparkle, to prove that anyone could write anything, without plagiarizing.

“Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony said ‘This is your dream, anything you can do in your dreams you can do now.’ I mean, if we want to take a bunch of phrases and run ’em through Google and say, hey, who else has said them, I could come up with a list in five minutes. And that’s what this is.”

Craig Melvin correctly countered that the issue was not the similarity of any one word or expression, but the matching sequence of expressions. Melvin stated further that a plagiarism website had just determined “that there was less than a one in a trillion chance that the similarities would be so striking.”

Sean Spicer shopped his doublethink to multiple media outlets, insisting that somehow the similar expressions just fell into place in exactly the same way as in the Michelle Obama speech eight years prior.

Apparently no one was buying. The next day the conservative blog RedState announced:

The hapless Sean Spicer was later sent out to beclown himself with his My Little Pony defense. Now, barely 24 hours later, the campaign has admitted what was known yesterday morning: passages of Melania Trump’s speech were lifted from a 2008 speech by Michelle Obama.

The Orwellian concept is that truth is not really determined by facts, but by the official standing given to a statement, regardless of veracity. Newspeak (think New Speak) is a reduction of vocabulary and is designed to control thought.  

In other words when plagiarism becomes an acceptable coincidence in which entire passages merely appear  to have been lifted from the work of another, plagiarism as both word and concept conveniently disappears.

From 2011 until September 2016, Donald Trump was the country’s chief birther, repeatedly claiming that Obama was not born in the United States. Then suddenly he claimed to be nobly ending the discussion by announcing that “President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.”

The take-away from this is that something is only true if Donald Trump says so. Whatever is patently false is really true as long as Donald Trump claims it to be true. And if he is challenged, reality is false — fake news.  The true news is whatever Donald says – and that my friend is Doublethink supported by Newspeak.

About Larry Eppley

Larry Eppley's background is diverse. A former pulpit minister, he was a real estate agent before spending about ten years as a computer software trainer and IT support specialist. Now retired, he teaches English as Second Language classes for Spanish speakers, as well as a weekly bilingual Bible class.


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