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Calling George Orwell

You may recall that Winston Smith, the protagonist in George Orwell’s 1984 worked at the Ministry of Truth. His job was to revise past history by changing the text in various sources and throwing the originals (or past alterations) down the memory hole. Needless to say it was tedious work, and who could be sure that every scrap of actual or previously altered history had been located and expunged or corrected.

Wouldn’t Winston be happy to know that his job would be so much easier if he just hung on until 2011 or so, when all he need do to correct history is alter the entries on Wikipedia. At least that’s the way Sarah Palin’s fans see it, as they are attempting to alter the entry on Paul Revere to comport with Sarah Palin’s fictionalized account of his actions on that long ago nineteenth of April. Unfortunately for Sarah, Orwell’s vision has not yet been fully realized, as the folks at Wikipedia are pushing back, but Sarah’s folks are not going down without fighting. Her minions point out that there is now an open question about precisely what Paul was doing that night because well respected newspapers have reported what Sarah said, and since they are reliable sources, there is now a legitimate dispute about what Paul actually did.

If I follow that logic correctly, if I can get a legitimate newspaper to report that I said I am Napoleon, there is now an open question of whether I am, in fact, Napoleon. (Let me hasten to add that I am not now, nor ever have been Napoleon, and, more to the point, never thought I was Napoleon)

Perhaps my reaction to this just shows that I’m a bit old fashioned. Maybe Sarah’s fans are post modernists, who see no reason why any particular fact should be privileged over any other. After all, the fact free approach to
politics has been working pretty well for them lately, not to mention the fact free approach to science, so why not extend it to history?

One Comment

  1. Well, I think you are Napoleon, so it’s an open question after all.

    Monday, June 6, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink

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