THE ORWELLIAN NIGHTMARE OF DOUBLETHINK IN THE REAL WORLD
by JAVERIA YOUNES
Not too long ago the world was left aghast by the sight of the lifeless body of young Aylan Kurdi who had perished while escaping the war in Syria. Kurdi instantly became the poster child for refugees, embodying the hardship they endure along their way. The image rocked the collective conscious of the entire world and many European leaders faced condemnation for denying refugees’ entrance into Europe, sparking protest from pro immigrant lobbies.
Europe’s unprecedented refugee crisis provided fodder for the Presidential debate. The American election tilted in favour of a candidate whose political antics were akin to school yard bully. Churlishly and with the vocabulary of a high school student, Trump minced no words in denouncing refugees and calling for complete ban on immigration, asylum and open trade. This tirade against everything that encompasses American values compelled observers to compare Mr. Trump to a stand-up comedian playing to the wrong audience.
This In- Your- Face attitude that appealed to the majority of white America is not only costing America its clout in world affairs but also causing major embarrassment for diplomats and government officials.
The new order of nationalism, closed borders and a travel and trade restriction caused ripples across the world. Following Brexit and Rise of Donald Trump the world’s trade market went into a free fall while Muslims suffered from a rise in hate speech and islamophobia.
The disenchantment of immigrants with the American dream post 9/11 has exposed a major rift between the more recent arrivals to the USA and long established citizens. America’s common boast of a blended culture with the most assimilated refugees in the world has become a source of complaint. Yet America’s immigrants have fuelled its technological and economic advancement: in 2016, all six American winners of the Nobel Prize in economics and scientific fields were immigrants and America’s status as the country recipient of the most Nobel Prizes is in no small part thanks to immigrants who renounced their nationality in favour of American citizenship.
Irrational ideology trumps reason and that is the crux of the 2016 American election. Rationality demands patience and fortitude – two characteristics that are often associated with the educated that the blue collar white majority has come to despise. Preferring an impulsive approach, with the stroke of a pen Trump turned thousands of assimilated Americans into outsiders. This word play tore asunder the social fabric of the world’s most advanced society since Rome. The world watched in horror as the demagogue Trump administration announced a crackdown on refugees.
With the plain brutish bully that Trump is one cannot help but be reminded of cult classic “1984”. In his ground breaking work, George Orwell warned the citizen to be vigilant against the abuse and misuse of language to appeal to the mass mentality, wherein lies are “alternative facts” (a term recently coined by Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway). Political language as debated by Orwell must be protected from sugar coating, white supremacy under the guise of nationalism and the political correctness of manufactured truth. Divorced from reality, the Trump administration is adamant on imposing its own version of world affairs upon a population who is not ready to disassociate itself from its foreign born neighbours, friends and co-workers.
For Orwell, tyranny hides behind convoluted and deceptive language where words such as peace, freedom and justice become misnomers and are used to normalise torture, injustice and war. In 1984, the military was renamed The Ministry of Peace, and the Trump administration deploys similarly twisted language as it defends its fascism with the euphemistic slogan “Make America Great Again”.
In our brave new world privacy is a luxury and anonymity has a price tag, with social media trolling of a dissenter taking the place of political activism. Every day Muslims across America complain of online harassment and receiving threatening emails and messages.
Banning refugee and immigrants from Muslim majority regions is discrimination on the basis of religion, a blatant infringement of first amendment rights and a contravention of human rights standards.So often the world sits idly by, watching ethnic conflicts flare up as if these were mere entertainment rather than human beings whose lives are being destroyed. The existence of even a single refugee should be a cause for alarm throughout the world.
Following the US travel ban many immigration advocates fear that other countries may follow suit. Sadly when the Kuwaiti government announced a travel and visa ban for Syrians, Iraqis, Iranians, Pakistanis and Afghans there was not much media frenzy. The Kuwaiti authorities emphasised that no exception would be permitted, but added that the ban was temporary, and will be lifted when the security situation stabilises.
The world inches towards another World War where, in the words of senior Chinese military official, war with the US is “not just a slogan” but is becoming a “practical reality” with such beliefs reiterated by Trump’s closest advisor and bigot Bannon, who stated in his radio show “We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years, aren’t we?” One wonders if humanity is a lost cause. What began as Islamic terrorism has quickly spiralled into all-out nationalism and a world deeply divided along religious, ethnic and racial lines.
One can only hope that peace and rationality prevail in time to let us work together for the cause of all humanity and transcend our differences. The world has seen enough bloodshed – let us be agents of change and not silent observers, for silence in the face of injustice is a crime against humanity itself.