The left’s love affair with doublethink

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If you have a hard time following the logic of some liberal arguments, don’t worry. It’s not you.

Taking a page out of George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” our modern prog friends have mastered the art of doublethink — “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

As Orwell described the “labyrinthine” world of doublethink, it was “To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy.”

In the novel, the examples are plentiful: “War is peace.” “Freedom is slavery.” “Ignorance is strength.” But they are just as plentiful in real life: “Equality is racism” (if you oppose special treatment for one race, you are guilty of a hate crime). “Truth is a lie” (political correctness run amok forces people to say that which they know is untrue). “Hate is love” (attacking Trump supporters is necessary to make them see the light).

The most obvious example of this doublethink is the left’s defense of abortion. Rather than directly promoting abortion, they say they are protecting women’s “reproductive rights.” However, it turns out that “reproductive rights” actually means the right NOT to reproduce, down to and including killing your own unique, never-to-be-“reproduced”-again baby by sucking out its brains (partial-birth abortion).

Sorry for that brutal example, but doublethink allows the most heinous crimes against humanity — such as the United States being founded on the principle that “all men are created equal” and then approving of slavery by declaring that enslaved people are less than human.

There are also more subtle examples, which may be even more dangerous. Consider “cultural appropriation,” the crime of borrowing elements of one culture by another. Imitation is appropriation. Generally this is applied as a thought crime only when the borrower is white or belongs to a Western culture and the “appropriation” comes from a minority culture. Celebrity Kim Kardashian got in trouble, for instance, for braiding her hair, which according to Essence magazine is “an integral part of black culture — past, present and future.”

Well, that may be so, but braiding hair is not uniquely an expression of African identity, nor should it be. Imitation, as they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. If white people are to be segregated from the cultural influence of minorities, then not only will they be poorer for it, but so too will the minority cultures which could take pride in their influence and importance.

Much of the power of the “cultural appropriation” mantra comes in the form of bullying people who dare to be different. An example of this occurred in May when Keziah Daum of Salt Lake City wore a traditional Chinese qipao dress to her senior prom and proudly tweeted pictures of herself just like every other teen who goes to prom. Various self-appointed representatives of Chinese culture (mostly American!) warned her that she was not allowed to parade herself in public in a Chinese dress. This must have come as a huge surprise to the hundreds of thousands of Chinese who make a living by selling qipaos (also known as cheongsams) to foreign tourists in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and elsewhere!

Indeed, a cultural critic from Hong Kong named Zhou Yijun told the New York Times: “It’s ridiculous to criticize this as cultural appropriation. From the perspective of a Chinese person, if a foreign woman wears a qipao and thinks she looks pretty, then why shouldn’t she wear it?”

Scary when there’s more common sense coming out of China than the United States, but the doublethink of “appropriation” goes way beyond culture. Consider the hypocrisy of a left-wing philosophy that opposes a person of one race wearing the outer trappings associated with another race, yet at the same time argues that society has an obligation to allow men to assume the very identity of a woman, or vice versa. Which is more of an appropriation? Borrowing clothes? Or borrowing a gender?

Of course, since cultural appropriation is only supposed to be inappropriate when a “majority” borrows from an “oppressed” minority, it would not be inappropriate for a woman to identify as a man, but it would be an insult for a man (by liberal definition an oppressor) to identify as a woman (by liberal definition a victim of oppression).

The twists and turns in the logic of doublethink are exhausting, and I think it is safe to say that part of the power of liberalism is that it is easier to surrender to its hypnotic fluttering rhetoric than to pin it down like a bug and analyze it under a microscope. Yet once you face facts, there is no going back, no matter how isolated it may make you feel.

As Winston Smith, the hero of “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” asserts after confirming that everything Big Brother has taught him is untrue:

“Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”

Frank Miele is managing editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Montana. He can be reached at fmiele@dailyinterlake.com.

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