Big Brother…

or should i say MI5, really was watching George Orwell.

yesterday, the National Archives finally declassified Orwell’s MI5 file, a document covering over twenty years of the author’s life.

while it is clear that security services eventually realized that he was no threat to the community, it is somewhat disturbing that they continued “watching” him until his death. during the Red Scare, Orwell was an associate of known Communists – but not a Communist himself (as made abundantly clear later in Animal Farm). this guilt by association assumption holds true in the intelligence and law enforcement communities today, and the release of Orwell’s file at this point in time is an important counterargument against the types of electronic and physical profiling in far too widespread use.

just as Orwell shared the bohemian dress and reading habits of known Communists, similar surface assumptions are made today: while terrorists may be overwhelmingly young Muslim men, that doesn’t mean that young Muslim men are overwhelmingly terrorists. vigilance should not equate to oppression and the denial of guaranteed rights and freedoms. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

quote of the day:

Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.” – George Orwell

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