There’s a rule in writing known as “the rule of three.” It advises repeating ideas three times and then moving on or seriously altering how you present it. If you don’t, then the audience will tune you out.
I’m more than happy to pretty much guarantee this will be three and out for references to George Orwell’s novel “1984” in this column.
It would be wrong, though, to move on without looking at an enduring meme from the novel: the “memory hole.” These were slots for burning information, even so much as a scrap thereof, that might contradict the Party propaganda of the day.
At one point in his torture, Winston Smith is shown a photograph that proves he was right about how the Party manipulates reality.
“It exists,” he cried.
“No,” said O’Brien.
Smith’s torturer, O’Brien, puts into “memory holes” a photo, declaring:
“Ashes. Not even identifiable ashes. Dust. It does not exist. It never existed.”
Replied Smith: “But it did exist. It does exist. It exists in memory. I remember it. You remember it.”
“I do not remember it,” said O’Brien.
Orwell’s narrative continued:
Winston’s heart sank. That was doublethink. ... If he could have been certain that O’Brien was lying, it would not have seemed to matter. But it was perfectly possible that O’Brien had really forgotten the photograph. And if so, then already he would have forgotten his denial of remembering it, and forgotten the act of forgetting.
Perhaps we should look at doublethink as well as we see memory holes need it to work and vice versa.
This fall saw two major reports on the 2016 elections. The “Mueller Report” concluded that no evidence of collusion was found between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia in the latter’s unsuccessful efforts to impact that election.
More recently, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report “Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane Investigation” found no evidence of political motivation on the part of agency actors in the matter.
More or less simultaneous to the latter report, the Democrats announced their impeachment charges against President Trump. In the course of doing so, Trump-hating Congressman Adam Schiff scorned letting the matter of who should be president be decided by the people in 2020.
His reason? Doing so would let Trump “cheat” at another election — you know, the way no one was able to show that he had in 2016.
Now Schiff — or anyone else for that matter — is free to treat “no evidence was found” as not exonerating the Trump campaign in the Mueller matter.
To be intellectually sound and consistent, though, he — or anyone else for that matter — needs to allow that the failure to find evidence of political motivation in operation Crossfire Hurricane does not exonerate anyone, either.
Instead the “20/7 Opinon-4/7 News” networks are hailing the IG report — as if misfeasance is any better than malfeasance on the part of the nation’s “police force.”
It would actually be somewhat better if malfeasance — acting deliberately out of antipathy for Trump — were involved. That would mean you’d have to do something, be a big enough target for the feds to break the rules to try and get you.
If it’s just misfeasance, then we have a report showing a scary set of bad actions that could affect anyone who comes up for investigation.
That’s a serious concern that’s getting “memory holed” as pundits and proles celebrate or sicken over the notion that “Trump was wrong.”
As Scott Shackford noted over at Reason: “Altogether, the inspector general found 17 incidents of ‘serious performance failures by the supervisory and non-supervisory agents with responsibility over the FISA applications. …What we don’t know — and maybe will never know — is how frequently the FBI omits important information in other wiretap requests that involve Americans.”
Shackford’s colleague, Robby Soave, adds that the failures “undercut the government’s position that FISA courts are a sufficient guardian of Americans’ civil liberties, and that the FBI is capable of responsibly exercising the vast powers granted to it. No one should feel confident that a court would block the FBI from engaging in surveillance, even if the information was flawed or faulty.”
The entire point of the FISA court was to protect the rights of U. S. citizens. That FISA can be rigged and end-run by the Justice Department — for whatever reason — is a deeper concern than any one elected official sitting in any particular public office.
Don’t let it be forgotten.
Hennigan, of Asotin, is an instructional technology administrator at Lewis-Clark State College. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.