It is not that long ago that everyone recognised that whilst everyone was entitled to their own opinions, no one was entitled to their own facts. That doctrine was essential to democracy and the rule of law and respect for human rights. Yet, the political-media elite have completely turned the doctrine upside down and, for good measure, defenestrated it. Now no one is entitled to their own opinions, and the facts are simply made up. The political-media elite's responses to the events in Charlottesville on Saturday are a perfect illustration of this Orwellian totalitarian ideology in practice.
The only acceptable opinion is that the protesters are bad, bad, badder than bad! The facts are whatever supports that opinion. This is the world upside down, where one starts with one's conclusion and then works backwards to justify that opinion by rationalising facts into existence. And anyone who has the audacity to disagree, or even express a modicum of scepticism, or even merely fail to express the party-line with sufficient enthusiasm, is equally bad, if not badder. This is totalitarianism. There is no other word for it.
The political-media elite's responses to the events in Charlottesville have demonised the protesters, and blamed them exclusively for the acts of violence. This has been done in the name of upholding American values. Yet anyone who is even half-awake can immediately see this is complete nonsense. Under the rule of law, one needs evidence to accuse someone of crime, never mind judge them guilty. Under the Constitution, the protesters were simply exercising their rights. Had they not been confronted by so called counter-protesters, it is obvious there would not have been any violence. Yet, this obvious fact is simply hidden from sight by emotive rhetoric. Indeed, the rhetoric has been ratcheted up to the point that the protesters are called terrorists.
The obvious image to hang the terrorism label on is the car being driven into pedestrians. Yet, anyone who has watched the video evidence of the incident will have noticed that the car was initially being driven slowly, and no one appeared at all concerned. That is until counter-protesters started to attack the car, smashing the windscreen. It is only after that the the driver increases speed and the mayhem ensues. I do not know the motivation of the driver, but watching the video, I am more inclined to think he was attempting to escape. Yet the political-media elite are apparently completely certain that he was engaging in terrorism. How do they know? Not by facts, but simply by opinion. The protesters are bad, therefore, the act was the result of bad intent.
And all the violence at Charlottesville (and just about anywhere else) is, of course, the fault of Donald Trump. How do they know? They just do. And if you do not know he is to blame, it proves you are just another deplorable. This is what now passes for political discourse in America. Trump won the presidency because the Russians hacked the election. How do they know? They just do (and by asking the question you just proved you are a propagandist for Putin and a traitor) - and one of the investigations will eventually (it has been a year already and there is still no evidence) find some facts to justify the opinion.
In contemporary American discourse, facts no longer matter. What matters are opinions: the opinions of the elite. This is a serious danger. It is a danger to democracy, the rule of law and human rights. But is not just a domestic matter. The US is the world's major military power and it has a history of waging wars and overthrowing regimes across the globe. The political-media elite are completely opposed to Trump's presidency. For them the wrong candidate won. They are completely opposed to the policy positions he was elected upon. They are determined to undermine his presidency, by any means. They are not interested in the facts. Certainly not pesky facts like he won the election by promising to end foreign interventions and to secure the border and get rid of job killing trade deals and defeat the jihadists. This is why they know that Russia hacked the election for Trump. That single opinion has, not only prevented Trump from improving relations with Russia, it has made those relations even worse. That opinion, which is daily presented as fact by the political-media elite, has pushed Trump into adopting the foreign policy positions of the neoliberal globalists, contrary to his campaign promises. It has hamstrung his cabinet appointments. It has neutered his Attorney General. And it has left Congress unable to do anything but attack Russia and tie the president's hands, rather than pass the legislation their voters voted for, such as the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
This is certainly a world Orwell would have recognised. A world where elite opinions take the place of facts and anyone who dissents is demonised, dehumanised, denied a voice. A world where exercising one's inalienable right to freedom of speech is construed as un-American. A world where people are punished for expressing dissident opinions in the name of promoting diversity of thought and opinion. A world where the totalitarians claim the moral high ground.