I find this on Page 24 of my dog-eared Signet paperback edition of George Orwell’s 1984.
“It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children. And with good reason, for hardly a week passed in which the ‘Times’ did not carry a paragraph describing how some eavesdropping little sneak — ‘child hero’ was the phrase generally used — had overheard some compromising remark and denounced his parents to the Thought Police.”
Orwell was obsessed with the totalitarian figures of his time, especially Joseph Stalin, from whose regime he got the model for the above. The great Soviet purges of the 1930s systematically used children as political informers against adults. One wonders how many people went to the Gulag based on the forced, twisted testimony of kids. Which brings me to a school bus full of the latter in Rexburg, Idaho, though I find them for the most part innocent, and not malignantly Orwellian. Their value here is as an exhibit for their potential as tools for manipulation.
The day after Election Day some grade-schoolers on the bus were heard to be chanting in singsong “Assassinate Obama.” When bored with that, they switched to “Assassinate Obama and Kate” (poor little Kate, whoever she might be, but her presence does illustrate the episode’s trivial nature). Anyway, the bus driver overheard this, and some parents got wind of it secondhand from their kids. In short, the Madison County School District was notified. An official e-mail was sent to all administrators, teachers and bus drivers stating this behavior should be met with strong disapproval. News of the scandal reached a Twin Falls TV news station, which devoted a short segment to it. It seems that due to the kids’ ages (six to eight) that the United States Secret Service wasn’t interested. But Jill Kuraitis was.
Kuraitis is the “Idaho Editor” for “New West,” a Lefty regional website based in Missoula, Montana, and devoted to Western politics, culture, recreation and business (mostly Green). I find it amusing and visit everyday. It’s Missoula’s own online New York magazine. If you want to know where to get good coffee, wine or sushi in Missoula — check New West. There are local blogs (New West-Missoula, New West-Bozeman, New West-Boise). I’ve always thought of it as a sort of home-away-from-home newsletter for a million expatriate Californians. But back to Jill Kuraitis.
She’s one of the website’s “citizen journalists” and writes regularly. In September she penned a hysterical screed about Sarah Palin. It was impressive; worthy of the Huffington Post or Daily Kos. “She was the head cheerleader who got there by bullying others and having her mother pull strings. She was the girl who would be your best friend one day, then turn on you the next and use your confidences against you….Winning was everything.” You get the idea. It was a species of trite sputum usually found in biohazard containers in the exam room of your doctor’s office.
On November 13, Kuraitis posted a column about those naughty kids in Rexburg. She called the Madison County School District to ask: “What is being done to find out if the parents of these kids have created a home atmosphere where that kind of language and thinking is okay?” E-mails were exchanged with a district “spokesperson” named Janet Goodliffe. Goodliffe’s final communication: “I don’t know what you mean. It’s not even like that. It was the day after the election and the kids were just chanting, really little kids, like six, seven and eight.”
But Kuraitis is undeterred. She writes: “I’m not saying all six year olds would have known what they were saying. But most would [Really?], and some kind of swift and serious action should be taken to figure out where they got the swill they were regurgitating. The kids and parents should be questioned by law enforcement, if only to emphasize how serious the incident was.” Kuraitis continues her piece by decrying yet another one of those hangman’s noose incidents, this particular one in rural northern Idaho, with a man named Ken Germana under investigation by the Spokane office of the U.S. Secret Service. “I hope authorities throw the book at him.” I would guess that Kuraitis found nothing wrong with Sarah Palin hanged in effigy in California as a Halloween prank.
Since the election especially the left has adopted a paranoid stance concerning President-elect Obama’s safety. The fact that President Bush has for the last eight years stoically endured the most vicious opprobrium the left had to offer, including starring in the plot of novel that speculated on the virtues of assassination, doesn’t faze the Jill Kuraitis’ of the world. The double standard is glaringly apparent.
But Kuraitis can’t comprehend that. With her laser glare focused on six year olds and misanthropic hermits living in the woods, she ends her piece wallowing in histrionic gobbledygook: “I’m at a loss about how to stop this stuff, but that doesn’t stop me from using my fury to try to think of something constructive. It’s an enormous concept with thousands of years of history to try to fight hate and violence, but we have to start somewhere.”
I think George Orwell would have been fascinated by Jill Kuraitis. In one tiresome piece she has managed to display both definitions of the word “Orwellian”: that related to the political and to the linguistic.