Some of you will have already seen this extraordinary video doing the rounds today. It contains a series of University Of Washington students all too willing to allow (or too scared not allow) a 5’9” white man to self-identify as being 6’5”(*), a first-grader, female and/or Chinese:
As I watched it, I was eerily reminded of this part of O’Brien’s ‘interrogation’ of Winston in Orwell’s 1984:
Only the disciplined mind can see reality, Winston. You believe that reality is something objective, external, existing in its own right. You also believe that the nature of reality is self-evident. When you delude yourself into thinking that you see something, you assume that everyone else sees the same thing as you. But I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be the truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party. That is the fact that you have got to relearn, Winston. It needs an act of self-destruction, an effort of the will. You must humble yourself before you can become sane.
Institutional indoctrination at its frightening best.
*(with the exception of one student who expressed some doubts).