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George Orwell was not the first to notice, but was the first to bring to broad public attention, the fact that totalitarian regimes – on the right or on the left – rely on the Big Lie as one tool to keep the populace in check.
Simply take a demonstrably, preposterously fallacious proposition, present it straight-faced as fact and repeat it long enough, prevent opposing views from being heard, and people will eventually come to accept it.
(“It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it,” though not emanating from political leaders, happens to be one of the first to spring to our minds.)
As Northern Virginia jurisdictions morph from not just one-party localities, but those where any form of dissent is ritualistically stifled by the powers that be, we may not (yet) be encountering Big Lies in the most classic senae. But we certainly have seen our share of elected and appointed leaders contorting language out of all semblance of reality in their quest to smother dissent, or even informed inquiry, on any particular subject-du-jour.
Take, for instance, a comment by Fairfax County Supervisor Walter Alcorn, during a recent board discussion about the plan to start removing Confederate names and symbolism from the county.
“I think we’re definitely moving down this path, not to in any way erase history, but actually to bring it alive,” said Alcorn, who to be fair, is far from the biggest whackadoodle on the current Board of Supervisors.
(Airbrushing people out of history is actually a way to “bring it alive”? Stalin would have smiled at that analogy.)
Frankly, we have no dog in the hunt on the issue of Confederate nomenclature, except to point out that if Fairfax officials think they will be able to stop at that, they’re deluding themselves. Neighboring Falls Church already has eradicated Thomas Jefferson and George Mason. And with Fairfax County itself named after a slaveholding family, how can that be allowed to stay? Just asking ....
If Fairfax officials think this whole subject is a pressing matter, it is their prerogative to address it, no matter how far down the list of priorities it really is.
But, elected officials and those whose livelihoods depend on them, while you may think yourself clever enough to fool all the people all the time through your, mmmm, interesting use of language, a growing number among your flock are catching up and catching on.