I suggest that we all re-read George Orwell’s 1984, a dystopian novel I taught in a high school Language and Logic class years ago.

Unfortunately, it has become frighteningly prescient as we watch our democracy and civility unravel and our democratic values be forgotten.

President Trump's speeches and tweets to his loyal followers are eerily reminiscent of the "Two Minute Hate" the controlling party in the novel uses to inflame its members.

Seeing Trump's followers cheering, chanting and raising their fists at his hate-mongering and his repeated personal attacks is chillingly reminiscent of the exploitation of power by the demagogues of history. His repetition of blatant lies and blatant self worship are equally terrifying and Orwellian.

Ironically, one thing that Orwell did not envision in his nightmare vision was the computer. Now with the help of social media, lies and misinformation, hate speech can be effectively disseminated and mindlessly passed on to others in ways Orwell never dreamed, with cable news acting as an echo chamber.

Now even the Russians are able to meddle in our election, all without apparent interest or questioning by Trump's loyal followers. To many Americans, the Mueller report has already gone down the “Memory Hole" of forgotten, denied or inconvenient information.

When a president treats questioning or dissent as unpatriotic, and when flag waving and other patriotic expressions are valued more than our American right to speak truth to power, we are indeed living in perilous times.

Winston Smith, the protagonist in the novel, puts his hope for change in the proles, the largely unfettered masses. But he observes with disappointment that the proles are easily distracted by the lottery, beer and a basic disinterest in facts and information.

Respecting the right to dissent is a start to reclaiming our sanity and civility and moving away from a mindless, unquestioning Orwellian nightmare.

Jane Schostag

Mankato

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