1. I have learned that, while Americans think that they have complete freedom, they actually do not. Many Americans believe that they can do whatever they want without having to worry about being watched or followed, as was present in Orwell’s 1984. This just simply is not true. In a Newseek article, Michael Isikoff wrote that, “CIFA (Counterintelligence Field Activity) researchers apparently cast a wide net and had a number of surveillance methods…at their disposal.” The CIFA is a top-secret program at the federal level that is said to be essential in the fight against Al Qaeda. However, many people believe that this program is watching American citizens, all in the name of “security.” At the same time, the Department of Defense is expanding their programs that are aimed at “gathering and analyzing intelligence within the United States,” writes Walter Pincus of The Washington Post. This is to say that the DoD is spending more and more taxpayer dollars to watch and monitor those very taxpayers, the citizens of these United States. This is very scary to think about. However, it goes even further.
All across the country, municipalities, states and even schools are doing these same things. According to ktvu.com, a preschool in Richmond, California is attaching wireless sensors on all students so that teachers can be alerted when a student comes into or leaves the school. While this may seem very innocent and necessary for safety, some view it as an infringement on the rights of privacy. Some believe that this is simply the first step in the direction of greater monitoring by government agencies. To go even further, Daniel Kraker of National Public Radio reports that at Northern Arizona University, scanners are being installed outside of lecture halls to track attendance. Kraker writes that “The university received $85,000 in federal stimulus funds for its new “electronic attendance” pilot project.” This seems to some as though the federal government is providing taxpayer dollars to monitor and track students. This may simply be a harmless step to approve school attendance, but it seems like it may be taking it a step too far.
Also, in both the political arena and in everyday life, words, photos, and thoughts are manipulated in a way that promotes one idea and goes against another. As far back as the American Civil War, when photography was first becoming prominently used, photos were manipulated to make one side seem better than they were. This has continued right on up to the modern day. Politicians and candidates manipulate their opponents’ words in a way that completely alters what the opponent originally meant. Every single day, words that average people say are taken by others and reworded in ways that make them look bad. This truly is manipulation of public opinion.
2. These above ideas are seen very prominently in 1984. In Part One, telescreens are introduced by saying, “The voice came from an oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror which formed part of the surface of the right-hand wall. Winston turned a switch and the voice sank somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable. The instrument (the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely.” Right off the bat, we can relate the telescreens to the programs that are being used by the federal government to watch and monitor American citizens. We can try to run from being watched, but there will always be another camera, another police officer, another watchdog. The federal government is spending an unspecified amount of money to implement law that allows them to ensure that no one is stepping out of line too much, all in the name of “security.” This is what happens in Orwell’s 1984. In that novel, the Party is so worried that someone may go against Big Brother that they are willing to use any and all resources avaliable to monitor citizens, even in their private homes. In 1984, the citizens know that they are being watched at all times. In this country, people are beginning to wake up and realize that they too are being watched. It is no longer a clandestine organization doing a bit of spying here or there, it is out in the open. That is exactly what happens in Oceania.
3. These topics will have a very large impact on our future as Americans. If, in 2012, we are being watched in such a way, what will it be like in 20 or 30 years? What will it be like in 2084? As the government fears more and more of an attack of some type, they will assuredly continue to spend more and more money in an attempt to alleviate any problems, and we will begin to lose more and more of the freedoms that we as Americans cherish and hold sacred. There is no reason to be scared of your government, but there is a reason to question them when they begin to step out of line.
Here is an example of what is going on at the federal level in regards to wiretapping:
These types of activities are even being done at the local level: