Monday, October 27, 2008

Channeling Orwell, King Claims Only Republicans Champion Freedom

Republican Rep. Steve King, who represents Iowa's 5th District, over the weekend added yet another absurd statement to his long list of ludicrous contentions.

Speaking at a campaign event in Sioux City on Oct. 25, King repeated what has become the Republican mantra in these final, frenzied days before the election: Sen. Barack Obama is a socialist. The Iowa congressman even insisted that many other Republicans aren't going far enough with this line of attack.

"When you take a lurch to the left, you end up in a totalitarian dictatorship," the Iowa Independent reported that King said. "There is no freedom to the left. It's always to our side of the aisle."

Apparently, King would have us believe that electing Obama will represent such an extreme change in American government that we won't merely wind up with a bloated French-style welfare state but rather, a headlong dive into Stalinism. There's nothing new about a politician such as King throwing some red meat to a highly partisan crowd, but the seriousness of his accusations, especially when considered alongside their obvious falsity, makes his remarks truly beyond the pale. Though we have severely criticized King several times in the past, we feel compelled to once again publicly denounce his bizarre extremism.

Ideologues who stray too far into the fringes of the left or right often tend to lose their respect for liberty. To assert that only those on the left are ever guilty of such excesses is to ignore history. For every Mao Zedong or Joseph Stalin, there is an Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini. Disregard for human rights and individual freedoms is the problem in such cases, not differences in the details of fiscal policy. Countries such as France, Germany, and even the United Kingdom are far more socialistic than the United States, but none of them are even remotely close to being totalitarian dictatorships. King's pedantic slippery-slope argument cannot survive even superficial scrutiny.

Despite being utterly devoid of truthfulness, King's assertion that electing Democrats could lead to the end of democracy or capitalism in America is actually less insulting to the average voter's intelligence than is his shamelessly Orwellian claim that freedom can only be found on his side of the aisle.

The word "Orwellian" is particularly apt in this case because King, whether he realizes it or not, has shown himself to be a proponent of doublethink. This concept originates from George Orwell's classic novel 1984, which tells the story of a man struggling to find freedom in a world dominated by totalitarian regimes.

In the novel, Orwell defined doublethink as follows: "To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies."

Thus, even though King froths at the mouth about how the Democrats are out to take away Americans' liberties, he himself strongly supported all of George W. Bush's policies that actually had that effect. He faithfully backed the president in both passing and renewing the USA Patriot Act as well as in granting retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that engaged in illegal spying on Americans. On all of the greatest civil-liberties issues of our time, King has been on the wrong side.

Talk in favor of freedom is cheap. And talking about freedom is virtually King's only connection to the concept. Attempting to scare Iowans into believing that a President Obama would obliterate what is left of America's core liberties after having personally voted in favor of the laws that have eroded those liberties is a paradigmatic example of doublethink in action.

We urge Iowans to help end King's tenure as the state's most embarrassing public figure. Support Democrat Rob Hubler's attempt to unseat this despicable, demented demagogue. Go to Hubler's website to learn about what you can do:

(Cross-posted at the Daily Iowan's main site.)

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