October 24, 2005
Regrettably, I never followed her advice. And now, as Lizzy, Fred, and Navyswan tell us, it is too late.
Months ago, in response to a post I wrote about the military blogger Colby Buzzell, Kate of Broken Windows told me to pay attention to Daniel Goetz, a soldier writing a blog called All the King’s Horses.
is too late because Daniel has been silenced, against his will. And not
only has he been silenced — he has been forced to publicly declare
himself "a supporter of the administration and of her policies."
stop-lossed soldier angry that he is still serving in Iraq, seven
months beyond his original enlistment agreement, Daniel is no longer
free to post on his blog. Though he had taken care to adhere to the code of conduct to which he is bound, it is likely that a post of his on the Operation Truth website brought his views to the attention of military officials.
Daniel’s final post is heart-breaking; the single most chilling thing about it, if you know your Orwell, is its title: Double Plus Ungood.
I thank all of you who have been so supportive recently. I have never
before received so much positive feedback, and it was very
heart-warming to know that so many people out there care. Having said
that, it breaks my heart to say that this will be my last post on this
blog. I wish I could just stop there, but I can not. The following also
needs to be said:
For the record, I am officially a supporter of the administration
and of her policies. I am a proponent for the war against terror and I
believe in the mission in Iraq. I understand my role in that mission,
and I accept it. I understand that I signed the contract which makes
stop loss legal, and I retract any statements I made in the past that
contradict this one. Furthermore, I have the utmost confidence in the
leadership of my chain of command, including (but not limited to) the
president George Bush and the honorable secretary of defense Rumsfeld.
If I have ever written anything on this site or on others that lead the
reader to believe otherwise, please consider this a full and complete
I apologize for any misunderstandings that might
understandably arise from this. Should you continue to have questions,
please feel free to contact me through e-mail. I promise to respond
personally to each, but it may take some time; my internet access has
posted by Daniel at Saturday, October 22, 2005
Daniel remembers now: Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.
It’s one thing when a civilian blogger like me uses Orwellian language
to describe the current administration and its policies. It’s something
else, entirely, when someone feeling the brunt force of authoritarian
rule pulls out his copy of 1984.
If you want to know what Daniel sounded like before, and observe the brilliance and care with which he suggested his views, read this post:
We - the forlorn Atlas, who bears the
burden of lofty decisions - salute you, the free. May this day be a
blessing to you and yours as you celebrate your freedom from the
clutches of tyranny and strife. May your beer be as cold as the hearts
of your enemies and your fireworks carry the zeal of your patriotism.
this day, may you not be napalmed by an invading Army. May you not be
tortured for a parking violation. Today, may your hometown not be
bombed. When you sit down to eat tonight, may armed men not barge into
your house and search your wife’s underwear drawer. May you not be
zip-tied, marched outside, beaten and shot in the face.
God Save America.
God, save America.
Daniel wrote "S.O.S." on July 04, 2005, in the rockets’ red glare.
Update: Others who have written about Daniel’s post include: The Poor Man, Suburban Guerrilla, Crooks and Liars, Robot Wisdom, Sivacracy, Antiwar.com, Corrente, Shakespeare’s Sister, Fact-Esque, Feministe, Rubber Hose, All-Spin Zone, Buzzflash, Metafilter, SusanG at Daily Kos, AlterNet, Democratic Underground, War and Piece, Kung Fu Monkey, and WhatReallyHappened.com.
Michael Farrell, a retired soldier writing on The Defeatists, considered Daniel’s final post and reflected on the limits of a soldier’s duty:
I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States and obey the
officers appointed over me; I didn’t swear to uphold the officeholders
appointed or elected over me. So, forbid blogging; forbid email; forbid
streaming videos; forbid the whole digital world and while I think
you’re fucking idiots, I could salute and support it. But, hit those
who are critical of policy and threaten them with punishment —
surprising how many articles of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice
list as death maximum punishment, which can get your attention — and we
got a beef.
In his second-to-last post, Daniel wrote about the importance of speaking out:
Truth has published my story as their Veteran of the Week profile. I am
excited and nervous for the extra attention this will attract. Excited
because the army is trying very hard to muffle the cries of battered
soldiers, abused by the system they are sworn to protect. Each
time our story is heard by someone new, the country comes that much
closer to understanding what is happening to us in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Update #2: Kate writes:
I understand the need to keep "sensitive" information off the web. And
perhaps these commanders have read "critical" wrong, thinking it
applies to writing that criticizes the administration rather than
information essential to military operations. (It wouldn’t suprise me
given the misuse of words and the bleeding of meaning that have been
trademarks of the past five years.) But having read everything Daniel
has written this year, including Club Fed
and Remember Petey
two highly amusing works of expert satire, I can say (and swear on the
Bible, y’all!) that he did not once, not ever, give away any
information about where he was, what his unit was up to, or how they
did what they did. Nothing at all.
Update #3: Navyswan
was the first blogger to bring attention to Daniel’s post. A commenter
there explains the Newspeak meaning of "doubleplusungood" for those
unfamiliar with 1984
From the Newspeak Dictionary
plus - A Prefix used to create the superlative form of an adjective or
adverb. (i.e. - pluscold and doublepluscold meant, respectively, 'very
cold’ and ’superlatively cold’.
ungood - Bad. One of the rules
of newspeak is that any word can be turned into its antonym by adding
the prefix "un-". This allowed the removal of repetitive words such as
horrible, terrible, great, fantastic, and fabulous from the language.
Update #4: As a graduate student in
English, one of the things that interests me about this case is that
any reading of it involves significant questions of literary and
rhetorical interpretation. Can implied, ironic meaning be construed as
a straightforward expression of a particular position?