The election of Donald Trump appears to be stimulating reading along with protests. The Hill reports a surge in sale of George Orwell’s novel 1984 after Kellyanne Conway said that the White House press secretary gave “alternative facts” after he made false statements about the crowd size at the inauguration. Alternative facts sounds alarmingly like the newspeak and doublethink of 1984. 1984 moved up to the sixth best selling book on Amazon on Tuesday. Sales of 1984 also surged in 2013 in response to the revelations from Edward Snowden regarding NSA surveillance.
1984 is probably the most famous literary criticism of the techniques used by authoritarian regimes, but other sources have also been discussed following the inauguration of Donald Trump. Yesterday I posted about two novels, The Plot Against America by Philip Roth and It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. Both novels involved an alternative history in which populist politicians promising to make America great defeated FDR and established dictatorships.
Doctor Who fans have been giving the show credit for predicting this forty hears ago in an episode in which the Doctor, then played by Tom Baker, said, “You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don’t alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views.”
Boing Boing used the format of Little Golden Books to make the above mock cover for The Little Golden Book of Alternate Facts. The cover presents all you really need to know as to what alternate facts really are.
Seth Meyers compared Kellyanne Coneway’s statement to a Jedi novice: “Kellyanne Conway is like someone trying to do the Jedi mind trick after only a week of Jedi training. ‘These are not the droids you’re looking for.’ ‘Yeah, they are, those are my droids.’ ‘No, these are alternative robots.'”
I suspect that the Trump administration might be associated with this meme forever. After he dies, Donald Trump’s tombstone might read: “Alternative Fact: He Was A Really Great President.”