Commentary misrepresents '1984' in link to NSA spying

June 23, 2013 

John Kass' June 14 "NSA spying and loss of liberty" op-ed is flawed from the start. While invoking the name of a great author and throwing around the often misunderstood adjective "Orwellian," Kass attempts to construct a dialectic but instead resorts to gratuitous shots directed mainly toward Obama (although he does throw Bush in near the end).

Kass presents a fundamental misrepresentation of "1984," masking his own ideology vis-a-vis the book's central thesis: A country in a state of ever-changing perpetual war cannot remain free.

Kass resorts to the tired "Obama is Big Brother" meme (in fact, "1984" is a comment on totalitarianism), apparently assuming that Big Brother is the only thing many will remember from the book.

Funnily, however, Obama is usually branded, impossibly, as both a socialist and a communist (doublethink?), wearing the "fascist" tag to a lesser extent.

Kass somehow conflates the Winston Smith/rat cage scene with the NSA (an agency seemingly overlooked by the public while the previous administration plundered the Fourth Amendment via warrantless wiretaps), which becomes unintentionally ironic as one remembers that torture was made illegal on Obama's first day in office.

(Interestingly, in his June 11 letter, Ken Geisinger asserts this administration doesn't "understand" terror; yet, despite all the flack over current NSA operations, and not even taking into account the decimating domestic losses of 9/11, the number of terrorist-inflicted U.S. deaths on foreign soil was substantially higher under Bush than Obama.)

But back to Kass' misuse of Orwell's "1984," I'll conclude with two quotes: Zbigniew Brzeszinski, the most prescient national security advisor by nearly every metric during the modern presidential era, recently said, "Terrorism is a phenomenon ... not an enduring reality"; and Founding Father James Madison long ago wrote, "No nation can continue its freedom in the midst of continual war."

I guess Mr. Kass missed that part.

Lance Abbring


Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service