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America’s Orwellian War

NYTimes Syndication Has anyone else following the aftermath of September 11 been struck by the similarity to Orwell’s 1984 – in which a never-ending far-away war against ever changing enemies serves as a rationale for political and social repression? In the past five months numerous Americans, and not a few Europeans, do not dare speak their minds and many more do not dare to think things through to a point where the urge to speak one’s mind becomes unbearable. There was no genuine war after September 11. There could not have been. And no country, not even one as powerful as the United States after it lost the Soviet Union as its only rival, can hijack such an important concept without in the long run bringing disaster upon itself. That great beacon of political common sense in the twentieth century, George Orwell, educated at least two generations of reasonable observers of political reality in the danger of using words wrongly in this way. A huge crime was committed; the biggest mass murder ever seen directly by hundreds of millions all over the globe when Manhattan’s tallest towers collapsed into a grave of molten steel. A vast police action,...

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