What Orwell Got Wrong

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

What Orwell got wrong, Steve Sailer notes, is that inculcating crimestop — the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought — doesn’t require an army of men watching you from your TV:

Instead, you watch your TV — and learn from it what kind of thoughts raise your status and what kind lower your status.

It’s a system of Status Climbing through Stupidity.

Every so often, a celebrity is fired to encourage the others: NPR dumped Juan Williams this week for admitting that passengers in Muslim garb on airplanes make him nervous. Earlier this month blowhard Rick Sanchez was sacked by CNN for responding sarcastically to his interviewer’s suggestion that Jews are an oppressed minority in the media. (As one wag commented, Sanchez got fired for the first story he ever got right.)

In 2007, America’s leading man of science, James D. Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, was forced to resign for admitting he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really”.

In Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 story “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” two con men claim their fabric has “the wonderful quality of being invisible to any man who was unfit for his office or unpardonably stupid”.

The tale’s famous ending, however, is naïve. As anthropologists Robin Fox and Lionel Tiger point out, just because one little brat exclaims, “The emperor has no clothes!” the mob isn’t going to suddenly concede the truth. Instead, they are going to get very angry at this unpardonably stupid child who, clearly, is unfit for his office of street urchin.

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