W.J. Astore

We’re truly living in Orwellian times.  A 17-year-old high school student, now known as #plaidshirtguy due to his choice of wardrobe, was removed from a Trump rally in Montana because of the faces he was making as Trump spoke.  You can read all about here, and watch an interview with him at CNN.

Not surprisingly, people who stand behind Trump are selected ahead of time and told to clap and cheer.  This young man did that, but he also chose to look quizzical, skeptical, and bemused at times.  This is not allowed!  A Trump staffer eventually intervened to remove him from the audience due to his “face crime.”  To make matters worse, he was then held by the Secret Service for ten minutes, after which he was asked to leave the event.

Leave the event?  For making skeptical and quizzical facial expressions?

You may recall from George Orwell’s “1984” that “Facecrime” existed.  Anyone making skeptical or otherwise unacceptable faces when the Party announced bogus victories, production figures, and so forth opened himself or herself up to serious punishment.

Thanks to plaid shirt guy, we now know that facecrime has come to America.  Just remember, fellow citizens, always to smile and cheer in the presence of Our Dear Leader.  Unless you want to be detained and sent away — perhaps next time to the cornfield.

*From my copy of “1984”: “In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense.  There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.” (From the end of Chapter 5.)

6 thoughts on “Facecrime!

  1. Doesn’t surprise me. Americans are so obsessed about image, and the Trumpists work very hard to portray themselves as the saviours of white male America, so a white guy showing scepticism towards the fearless leader will invariably be singled out, subjected to scorn, ejected from the tribe.

    The alt-right trolls are everywhere. I myself got hit by a review (writing a saga, called Bringing Ragnarok, feel free to check it out, Bracing Views readers, if you are up for feminist/postcolonial sci-fi) over the weekend that I’m pretty sure is from an alt-right type. Nice thing about Amazon is that it saves review and wish list history, which makes researching customer tastes easier. And also makes it possible to find that a reviewer who hates a work probably shouldn’t have read it in the first place, given that he gave an enthusiastic review about a combat history of the 1st SS Panzer Division (remember Malmedy, anyone?), praising it for being “unbiased” (we all know what that’s code for, with the alt-right set).

    Here’s more about that unit, though perhaps Wikipedia is too biased 🙂

    JK Rowling actually portrayed this dynamic really well, I think. A pure-blood Wizard calls out another for being anti-Muggle, and the first is immediately attacked as a kind of race traitor. This Scandinavian webcomic gives another perspective on this :


    When the tribe decides you belong, based on your skin color, faith, whatever, when you fail to conform, you will be targeted.

    So no eye-rolls, anyone! Loyalty must be shown to the authority figure at all times.

    Oh, and link to my own book, for those interested (sorry about the self-promotion)


      1. Much appreciated! I did not realize the cover would show up so large, but thanks for allowing it.

        I only just realized that Mr. Facecrime is from Montana… I always like to see western conservatives showing up, because they by and large aren’t statist conservatives in love with the GOP machine.

        If the GOP had any sense, it’d run an anti-Trump primary campaign in 2020 centred on the US West. There are a lot of independents out here who dislike the big cities dominating the politics.

        Of course, if the GOP had any sense they’d figure out a way to impeach Trump and Pence, then install Ryan as a caretaker until 2020. Impeachment, as we saw with Clinton I, is mostly political, at least insofar as the Constitution is concerned.


        1. “If the GOP had any sense, it’d run an anti-Trump primary campaign in 2020 centred on the US West. There are a lot of independents out here who dislike the big cities dominating the politics.”

          I find the above comment interesting for several reasons.

          First, I see no evidence that self-described “independents” actually vote independently in America. They hem and haw and vacillate a lot when asked their opinion, but when it comes time to mark a ballot, they still vote for one or the other of America’s two corporate right-wing factions. If the United States actually had any “independents,” Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party would have won at least 35% of the vote and the 2016 election would have gone into the House of Representatives for only the second time in U.S. history. The various (and hardly “united”) States have no “independents” worthy of the name, at least not in any appreciable numbers that I can see.

          Second, as the Electoral College and winner-take-all political system reveals time and again, running up big margins in a few big cities in a few big states doesn’t count for much. For example: winning 51% of the California and New York vote will net all 55 and 45 electoral college votes from those two states, respectively. Winning 99% of the vote in those two states and their big cities will still net the same total of 100 electoral college votes. On the other hand, winning a few tens of thousands of votes here and there out in the great vast emptiness of “flyover country” — where the “trees and acres” live (in California Governor and Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren’s apt phrase) — can, and often does (as it did in 2016) prove the winning national political strategy, at all levels of government. By design of the founding slave-owners, the “trees and acres” where people mostly don’t live dominate American politics far more than “the big cities” where they mostly do live. The Fourteenth Amendment’s “guarantee” of “equal protection under the law” clearly does not extend to one-person-one-vote “democracy.” Where a voter lives in rural farmland (dominated by Giant Corporate Agribusiness) matters far more than how many millions of fellow voters live nearby in a few big cities.

          Third, and as a matter of fact, the GOP establishment ran an anti-Trump primary campaign in 2016 and got Trump as their nominee. The Democrats ran an anti-Trump general-election campaign behind a truly inept and ghastly candidate and lost to Donald Trump. Now, just on the basis of observable reality, why would any “sensible” Republican party repeat in 2020 what obviously failed both them and the Democrats in 2016 — namely, running an anti-Trump campaign — especially since the Republicans can count of their Democratic party junior varsity to run a campaign blaming “the Russians” for Donald Trump. With the Democrats for “resistance” who needs any further assistance?

          Finally, for anything like “democracy” to take root in the United States, three fundamental structural changes must occur in the American political system. (1) proportional ranked-choice voting must replace winner-take-all elections, (2) the courts must eliminate gerrymandered congressional districts, and (3) either a constitutional amendment must abolish the Electoral College or the Supreme Court must rule it as invalid on grounds that it violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection under the law.” No individual American’s vote should count more or less than any other American’s vote. All these fundamental changes can and should happen. A true Democracy would demand them. They would, of course, require a degree of “independence” on the part of the servile American citizenry. Good luck with that, I know …


          1. Agree with the structural changes, Mike. Of course, the Republicans, knowing that demographically they’re in decline, will fight to prevent any of these changes. And the Dems will fold as they are wont to do. So we’ll continue to have unneeded voter ID laws, gerrymandering of districts, new laws to obscure campaign financing and its sources, new attempts to suppress voter turnout (closing of polling sites in minority and working-class districts, periodic purging of voting rolls), the prevention of felons with non-violent records from voting, etc.

            Whenever I vote now, a police officer is present inside at the polling site. Now, I have nothing to fear from the police. But what if I did, for whatever reason? Would I want to go to the polls and vote, where I know a police officer will be present?


    1. I checked out your website, Raed Nerian, Mr Tanner, but I have only had time to read through the two most recent of your postings there: namely, “Bringing Ragnarok Developer’s Diary 3.5” (September 16, 2018) and “Bringing Ragnarok Developer’s Diary 3 — Who Are My Readers?” (September 14, 2018). Quite a lot of material to get through and I don’t want to do you an injustice by making less-than-fully-informed comments regarding your work. You say:

      “I am proud of the fact that I’m writing unabashedly feminist fiction.”

      This statement compels me to ask if you have read The Millennium Trilogy by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson: namely, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest (English titles). All thee books have Swedish film adaptations and the first book also has an American film version starring Rooney Mara as Lizbeth Salander and Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomquist (along with a very good supporting cast). You might find some useful material in these books if you truly want to write “unabashedly feminist fiction.”

      Also, since you draw on Norse (or Scandanavian) mythology, I wonder if you have seen the History Channel’s production of “The Vikings” (four-and-a-half seasons now, with the second half of season five starting at the end of November). Lots of “shield maidens” kicking butt, slashing throats, and behaving just as immorally as any knuckle-dragging pagan/Christian man you’ve ever read about. Ragnarok sounds a lot like Armageddon in the Arctic Circle, but then, most of the world’s foundational mythologies have a great deal in common, as Sir James George Frazer exhaustively explains in The Golden Bough: a Study of Magic and Religion. Joseph Campbell has also done excellent work in the field of comparative mythologies. I especially recommend his Primitive Mythology: the Masks of God and The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

      Personally, I prefer the classic femme fatale characters from the Film Noir genre, with Eva Green my all-time favorite in Frank Miller’s Sin City: a Dame to Kill For. After she bangs and bullies her former detective-lover into murdering her wealthy husband, making her a very rich woman, she gloats (just before shooting him): “I knew I could count on you. Sex always made you stupid, ready to believe anything.” I like my women the way you actually find them in this world: a dying planet where received wisdom tells us: “No woman has a worse enemy than her best friend.” And if you don’t believe that, ask Monica Lewinsky what she thinks of Linda Tripp. The Democratic party’s 2016 presidential nominee could probably attest to the truth of that “sisterly” sentiment as well. After all, Donald Trump the pussy-grabbing billionaire misogynist got more white women’s votes than You-Know-Her did. Someone didn’t understand American women as well as she thought she did. Perhaps she should have asked her horn-dog husband, Bubba Bill.

      You also mention J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic works: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I grew up reading these books and would enjoy discussing them — and their film adaptations — in relation to creative writing, both in prose and verse. But we’ll probably have to set up a discussion thread dedicated to that sort of thing where others can chip in with their thoughts. This thread more properly should belong to George Orwell.

      Good luck with your writing.


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