Anti-Abortion Thought Police

Why you can’t believe a word anti-abortion politicos say: they’re like George Orwell’s “thought police.”

Unfortunately, it’s 1984 again in America.

Not the year. The book. George Orwell’s classic novel tells of a far-right totalitarian clique that uses “newspeak” and “doublethink” to impose their rigid, antidemocratic doctrine on society. Their regime held power through mind control: They had a “Ministry of Truth” for perverting language and manipulating facts, while their “Thought Police” enforced ideological purity and suppressed dissent.

Thirty-nine years later, here comes a clique of theocratic extremists in our country using Orwellian manipulation in its crusade to take control over every woman’s personal reproductive rights. Having seized the Supreme Court and practically the entire Republican Party, these present-day autocrats are now demanding that state and national lawmakers enforce the group’s ultimate dictate: a total ban on abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.

To their amazement, however, the great majority of Americans (even Republicans) think abortion ought to be generally available, with each woman deciding what’s best for her. Moreover, the idea of Big Brother imposing a federal ban is massively unpopular.
No problem, say today’s Orwellian newspeakers; we’ll just ban the word “ban” from our PR campaigns. Thus, their harsh abortion ban has magically morphed linguistically into a “pro-life plan.” There — feel better?

Doubling down on their propaganda ploy, the abortion truth-twisters are also plotting to ban reporters from using what one called “the big ‘ban’ word.” Anti-abortion agents are now barraging news outlets with warnings that any use of that verb will be considered proof of political bias. Sure enough, rather than risk right-wing fury, some scaredy-cat reporters are already caving in, meekly describing bans as “restrictions on procedures.” How nice — a kinder, gentler tyranny!

To keep up with the 2023 version of Orwell’s Thought Police, connect with Jessica Valenti’s diligent tracking of anti-abortion trickery.

What If George Washington or Sam Adams Ran for President?

All those firecrackers on July 4 got me thinking about the headline revolutionaries who signed the 1776 Declaration, fought the Brits for independence, hammered out the Constitution and installed our Bill of Rights. Old Ben, Monticello Tom, General George, Alex, “Pamphleteer Tommy” Paine, Jimmie and Dolly, Tea Party Sam and others got America’s democratic experiment started, and they’re rightly saluted today, from schoolrooms to political gatherings of both major parties, as true patriots.

Reflecting on that generation’s remarkable impact reveals the historic potential of our people’s democratic spirit. But it also raises the unavoidable contrast with our present crop of leading political characters. This is worth noting now, because the Fourth has become the opening bell for America’s quadrennial presidential run (yes, ready or not, the first “debates” are only a month away, and Iowa’s Republican caucuses are set for Jan. 15).

So, here’s my question: Given the current state of our two major parties, would any of the Patriots of ’76 have a snowball’s chance in hell of being nominated for president of the country they founded? Consider George Washington. The GOP’s MAGA crowd would boo him off the stage, Trump would mock the general as “Toothless George” and the party of Q-Anon, anti-woke nonsense (and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green) would place him behind uberrich ego trippers like Vivek Ramaswamy and Doug Burgum.

Democrats? While today’s grassroots Dems would rally enthusiastically to the little-d democratic principles and firebrand activism of Thomas Paine or Samuel Adams, the party’s pusillanimous, corporate-hugging establishment would bury both in a muddy deluge of money and lies.

This political reality check is not meant to depress us, but to provoke us into demanding and doing better. OK, maybe greatness is now beyond us, but shouldn’t we strive for more than mediocrity and outright goofiness?

Jim Hightower