The protagonist in George Orwell's novel, "1984" was named Winston Smith. He was a member of what was known as the, "Outer Party." His job, which he was quite good at, was to continuously revise history and old media reports so they would agree with whatever policies the rulers of the fictional nation Oceania were pushing at any given moment. He toiled away at what was called, The Ministry of Truth.
Winston and his co workers were kept busy as beavers because of those belonging to the, "Inner Party," the people who were actually in charge and their leader, Big Brother. They had the irritating tendency to completely change history whenever there was a shift in political direction and military alliances which benefited their grip on power.
In Winston Smith's world, the idea of a press operating independently of Big Brother and the Inner Party was so unimaginable such a notion would have ranked right up there with using binoculars to watch Martians snow board down the slopes of Olympus Mons.
Donald Trump hasn't established a Ministry of Truth yet, but we are edging toward that moment.
The latest example happened today when the newly minted Secretary of Education issued a statement regarding historically black colleges and universities--or in our protean version of newspeak--HBCUs.
Donald Trump's woman in charge of public education Betsy DeVos--who never attended a public school in her life--started out okay. She hailed HBCUs for providing places that African-American students could learn, "...at a time when there were too many students in America who did not have access to education."
Then, as we should have expected, she went straight down The Ministry of Truth rabbit hole. The secretary continued, "HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students they are afforded greater access and greater quality."
For those of you not familiar with Ms. DeVos, she is a big fan of school choice. And, as we now know, she isn't too keen on history, at least when it doesn't validate her beliefs, or goals.
The Huffington Post reports University of Pennsylvania professor, Marybeth Gasman, who does know something about history and HBCUs, responded to the statement this way: "In truth many HBCUs were formed as a matter of necessity when white supremacist structures systematically denied black students access to mainstream educational institutions."
She went on to say, "I found the statement to be completely ahistorical. It completely ignores slavery, it completely ignores Jim Crow, segregation, oppression, mass discrimination across the country; it ignores our entire history. It is a whitewashing of HBCU history--African Americans did not have a choice when black colleges were established--that was the only thing they could do."
Missouri senator, Claire McCaskill tweeted, "Totally nuts. DeVos pretending that establishment of historically black colleges was about choice, not racism."
Kristen Clarke, the head of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law also took to Twitter, posting, "Secy Betsy DeVos appears ignorant of racial segregation in U.S. HBCUs are byproduct of racism during Jim Crow era."
Journalist Soledad O'Brien was a tad more terse. She wrote, "Betsy DeVos seems to be a complete moron."
Lord if it were only so.
For far too long progressives have been writing off Don Trump, Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, and now Betsy DeVos as simple buffoons. Their lunatic statements and observations piss us off, make us laugh, or cause us to shake our heads in complete bewilderment. Our arrogance has been and will continue to be our undoing.
Trump and the rest know there are vast numbers out there who believe everything they say. It is all gospel to those big bellied middle aged white folks who are still convinced Barack Obama is from anywhere, but here, not to mention firmly believe it isn't racist to call the former first lady, "an ape in heels."
The terrible reality is, Trump and his people are pulling a Ministry of Truth move in slow motion. It began when the candidate announced Mexico was sending us rapists and other criminal elements. It continued when he insisted he personally saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey streets celebrating the 9-11 attacks. Indeed, the alternative facts, Conway spoke about are creeping toward becoming our new history.
We need to understand the main stream media is under a constant and savage barrage because the orange guy and his people need it to be utterly discredited for alternative facts and Betsy DeVos' new history to work. Once FOX and Breitbart are the only reliable sources of the truth the Trumpists are free to run amok and everything we've ever known can be rewritten to their satisfaction.
It is time to realize these monsters are not, despite our sneering humor, idiots and what we are now witnessing is the genesis of Big Brother and the Inner Party.
Just ask Winston Smith. He knew it was all horrific bullshit because it was his job to abet in their criminal lies. Of course, in the novel, as soon as he became disillusioned and tried to rebel they dragged him in and eventually executed him. But only after they had tortured him so long he finally admitted, 2+2=5.
Hey, given who is running the place and what is going on, it's a good bet we're edging toward that moment too.