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Two Minutes of Hate: The Bergdahl Edition | GUEST COLUMN
In George Orwell's "1984," the daily devotion for Oceania's party members is to view a film illustrating the various crimes of their enemy. In the dystopian novel the target is Emmanuel Goldstein, a party turncoat. The film whips up comrades into an antipathetic froth — hence the Two Minutes of Hate.
Bill Ayers, the villain in Sarah Palin's unsuccessful 2008 campaign for a federal government job, waited until after the election to speak out. In the New York Times he wrote: "I was cast in the 'unrepentant terrorist' role; I felt at times like the enemy projected onto a large screen in the 'Two Minutes of Hate' scene from George Orwell's "1984," when the faithful gathered in a frenzy of fear and loathing."
To those who can't admit Obama is, in reality, a moderate Republican — let alone a native-born Christian who loves his country even though he has his faults — this tactic is all the rage. These mouth-frothers find a new Emmanuel Goldstein as often as possible.
Because a party that hates together, stays together!
Occasionally there are the organizations that end up as the fury de jour: ACORN, the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, the mostly imaginary New Black Panthers, NPR and Planned Parenthood. And then there are the hashtag hates displayed proudly on right-wingers' Twitter bios: #Benghazi, #Solyndra, #IRS, #CommonCore, #czars.
They've lost the war, but they've won a couple of battles. ACORN no longer exists save paranoid chat room fantasies, the IRS has essentially stopped regulating political nonprofits and we've had 13 hearings on the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi during the least productive Congress in the history of quantification.
This war also has human causalities. In 2010, it was Shirley Sherrod playing the Emmanuel Goldstein role. Sherrod lost her job as Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the Department of Agriculture because she was "caught" (via deceptive editing) admitting to racism during a NAACP event. National Security Advisor Susan Rice was suspiciously dubbed unfit to be Secretary of State for largely made up reasons (the main one being Republicans wanted John Kerry's Senate seat for Scott Brown). She lost her chance to serve. Dr. George Tiller, who Bill O'Reilly christened "Tiller the Baby Killer," lost his life. He was shot in the head while attending church.
The most recent is Bowe Bergdahl, America's last POW held by the Taliban for five years. In the spring of this year, he was romanticized by war hawks like John McCain who said the president needed to do everything possible to get Bergdahl home safely. And once Obama did just that, releasing five Gitmo prisoners (who were going to have to be released eventually anyway because the wars are ending) in exchange for the sergeant, from the reaction you would have thought Obama wrapped the Holy Bible in an American flag and used it for drone practice while wearing mom jeans.
Bergdahl's colleagues rushed to national television cameras to use words like "deserter" and "traitor," and those who hoped this could possibly damage the president merrily propagated it.
Meaning Bergdahl survived the Taliban only to be welcomed home to a barrage of coordinated and cynical friendly fire.
Fox News' Brian Kilmeade had his crosshairs on Bergdahl's father, a man who had been wondering for the last half decade if he'd ever see his son again. "I mean, he says he was growing his beard because his son was in captivity," Kilmeade said. "Well, your son's out now. So if you really don't — no longer look like a member of the Taliban. Are you out of razors?"
It's estimated that 59,000 soldiers have deserted since the beginning of the War on Terror 13 years ago. Whether Bergdahl is one of them depends on if the Army thinks his intention was to return to military service before he was captured or not. But "traitor deserter Pashto-speaker" was the charge on cable news. And if they say it on TV—it has to be true!
To much less brouhaha this week, Bergdahl returned to active military service and through his lawyer thanked President Obama for saving his life. The preliminary investigations from the Army reports they've found no evidence of misconduct while he was in captivity. The investigation is not complete. As of this writing, no charges have been filed.
There were questions how the Taliban treated Bergdahl—how about questioning how his fellow Americans treated him?
Was it the best idea to leave his post in Afghanistan? Clearly not. Does that mean he deserves to be Emmanuel Goldstein?
Tina Dupuy is a nationally syndicated op-ed columnist, investigative journalist, award-winning writer, stand-up comic, on-air commentator and wedge issue fan. She can be reached at email@example.com.