Rep. Peter King: “This can’t be the evil we don’t speak about”
In George Orwell’s novel “1984,” the fictional language of Newspeak was glowingly described as the “only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year.” The virtue of the simplified vocabulary was that it well suited the totalitarian regime of the controlling Party, which sought to criminalize alternative thinking or speech by removing any words relating to the concepts of freedom or rebellion. The shrinking volume of the new dictionary was validated this way: “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”
In Newspeak the term for the English language as we know it, is Oldspeak, which was to be completely obliterated by 2050. It appears we have reached that marker 41 years earlier than Orwell envisioned.
What a classic example of Orwellianism we see with Janet Napolitano’s avoidance of the terms “terrorism” or “Sept. 11” in remarks prepared for her first congressional testimony. AP describes it as signaling a sharp change in tone from her predecessors and Napolitano as the first homeland security secretary to drop the term “terror” and “vulnerability” from remarks prepared for delivery to the House Homeland Security Committee.
Tom Ridge, who headed the agency when it was launched in 2003, mentioned terrorism 11 times in his initial presentation. In 2005 Michael Chertoff, the second secretary, mentioned terrorism seven times.
Napolitano uses the word “attacks” less than her predecessors. Instead she talks about hurricanes and disasters, a sign of the department’s evolving mission following Hurricane Katrina — emulating President Barack Obama who has avoided using the term “war on terror.”
Democrat Bennie Thompson, (D-MS) the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee does not mention terrorism or Sept. 11 at today’s hearing either.
The committee’s ranking Republican Peter King (R-NY) said he was struck that Napolitano does not mention terrorism, Sept. 11, new threats or a formula for distributing counterterrorism grants to states and cities. “This can’t be the evil we don’t speak about. Any testimony on homeland security should be centered around the threat of terrorism and what we’re doing to combat it.”
When reporters asked Napolitano why she avoids the terms, she said terrorism fits into what she calls “action directives” that she has issued. Yet in those directives, she mentions terrorism only once, speaking about a law that contains the word in its title. Instead, she speaks of reviewing the Gulf Coast recovery from Hurricane Katrina, information sharing, and immigration and border security programs.
Pressed further on the absence of terror vernacular, she said she has been working with members of Obama’s national security team since the November election, and she is briefed regularly on “incidents around the world.” She does not single out terrorism “because it’s almost become part and parcel of what we do every day.” The department’s mission is straightforward: “To protect the American people from threats both foreign and domestic, both natural and manmade; to do all that we can to prevent threats from materializing, respond to them if they do and recover with resiliency.”
That’s our Janet — inspiring confidence once again.