F. Scott Fitzgerald said the true test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas at the same time and still retain the ability to function. If this is so, Oklahomans should be leading the nation in all things intellectual because we are fast becoming a state of walking contradictions.
We are some of the most kind, loyal and loving people that you'll ever meet. Even though most Okies I know wouldn't hurt a flea, watch out if you put more than a few of us in a room at the same time " such as the Oklahoma Legislature. If you do this, it won't be long until we begin to write some of the most god-awful, hateful and xenophobic legislation in the nation.
My concern is not that our contradictory qualities demonstrate our first-rate intelligence " they clearly don't; rather, I believe it betrays of a cancer of doublethink as was eloquently described in George Orwell's book "1984."
In our recent election, voters here overwhelmingly approved State Question 751, mandating English as the official state language of government. In a textbook example of Orwellian doublethink, one need look no further than Jim Inhofe, our Republican senator from Oklahoma: "This nation's cultural diversity is one that contributes to the greatness of our country. I support the state's effort to pass a constitutional amendment making English the official language of the state because it ultimately facilitates better communication across the many lines of diversity within our state."
Another example of doublethink in Oklahoma is our recent banning of nonexistent Shariah law through State Question 755. Shariah has never been a threat here. Still, state Rep. Rex Duncan's doublethink is as broad as the side of the round barn in Arcadia, and he insists on passing a law anyway.
Why all this Orwellian doublethink? It's really very simple. While Oklahoma continues to suffer from a boom-and-bust economy, our politicians would rather have us believe that our problems are caused by "the strangers among us." Rather than facing up to our state's shortcomings in the national and international arenas, our public officials invite us to fight bogeymen " a strategy as old as time and perfected in World War II.
Our problems are not caused by the minorities persecuted by our state officials. These folks have never had any political or financial power to do anything in our state, much less favor themselves. No, the problems faced by all of us are the result of failed policies set by the majority who live here. When the day comes that our politicians care more about real problems than doublethink, perhaps Oklahomans will advance their first-rate intelligence.