Only totalitarians read George Orwell for ideas. Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced the establishment of a "Myths and Disinformation Governance Board" which eerily resembles the "Ministry of Truth" from 1984. Readers of the novel will remember that the Ministry of Truth's sole purpose was to promulgate lies, just as the Ministry of Peace was devoted to prosecuting war.
"Our government's not doing what it should be," warned Congressman Ron Estes (R-Kans.). "We're already up to 7,000, and... that will go up to 18,000 people a day... if they lift Title 42." Amid the most staggering border crisis in American history, DHS has taken on entirely unconnected new authority. Estes added, "I don't know... [how] the federal government determining what we can say... makes the border any more secure."
The administration claims this new board is needed to counter Russian disinformation in U.S. elections, but if that were the real reason it wouldn't belong in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In fact, "counter[ing] foreign state and non-state propaganda" is already the role of the State Department's Global Engagement Center. So it not only ignores DHS's main crisis; but also is entirely duplicative. DHS's new "Disinformation" board smells fishier than last week's tuna salad.
Mayorkas tried to defend the new initiative on CNN -- itself a notorious misinformation machine. To his credit, he lies awkwardly -- which hardly makes him this board's best spokesman. He awkwardly stumbled, dodged, and shirked from softball questions about the Disinformation Board like "what will it do?" Can you "guarantee that" American citizens will not be monitored? And "would you be ok if Donald Trump... [were] in charge of such a thing?"
The substance of his answers spilled out in disconnected, defensive phrases. If the secretary is to be believed, the board will "not have any operational authority" and will simply "gather together best practices" -- his favorite phrase -- to ensure that they are actually "safeguarding the right of free speech." The Left sure does know how to wrap the worst ideas in the rosiest rhetoric.
Also, if the secretary is to be believed, the Biden administration's pick to lead the board, Nina Jankowicz, is "eminently qualified, a renowned expert in the field of disinformation" and "absolutely" neutral. While you're imbibing that "truth" here's another: Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. According to former National Security Agency intelligence analyst John Schindler:
A product of the NGO-Democratic complex, Jankowicz's prolific Twitter feed offers a panoply of stridently woke takes on everything from proper pronouns to gender issues. More importantly, Jankowicz is herself a purveyor of disinformation. She pushed the now-infamous Steele dossier, which bona fide disinformation experts called out as fake not long after it appeared, while repeatedly presenting Hunter Biden's controversial laptop as a Kremlin disinformation scheme rather than a legitimate news story."
Schindler concludes that the board is "rabidly partisan." "It's kind of scary to think about the roads they could go down... just because you don't say the politically correct thing," Estes remarked. The Biden administration's Ministry of Truth shares the aim of the Sedition Act of 1798, to punish all citizens who "print, utter, or publish...any false, scandalous, and malicious writing" against the government, which -- as governments inevitably define it -- means any speech they don't like. Let's hope Biden's board also shares the Sedition Act's fate crushing defeat at the hands of voters.
Some speech suppression (also known as attempted mind control) is simply insulting -- such as denying the Covid lab leak theory, the southern border crisis, or the real causes of inflation. Suppressing viewpoints on more serious matters can contribute to society's moral decay and threaten religious freedom. For instance, the Biden administration might prohibit speech denying that boys can become girls, that gender is a social construct, that abortion is a human right, that marriage is simply a temporary connection between any number of people who love each other.
Initiatives like the Ministry of Truth should drive us to pray, "Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.... On every side the wicked prowl as vileness is exalted among the children of man." (Psalm 12:1-2,8). By contrast, "the words of the Lord are pure words" (Psalm 12:6). He will "cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts" (Psalm 12:3) and "will guard us from this generation forever" (Psalm 12:7).
For now, we can be thankful that, even if the Biden administration has the gall to establish a Ministry of Truth, they don't have its monopoly on publication. At least for now, we are free to tweet truths like: "'There is no Ministry of Truth,' Minister of Truth confirms."