Yes, Jonah, I get it.
Goldberg’s quote refers to a classic episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the episode, Capt. Jean-Luc Picard is repeatedly tortured while his captor asks him how many lights he sees. The correct answer is four, but his captor tortures him if he doesn’t answer “five.” After being freed, a wearied captain shouts at his tormentor: “There are four lights!”
The whole episode, of course, alludes to George Orwell’s 1984. In that book, O’Brien tries to hammer into Winston Smith’s head that “two and two equals five.” The brainwashing worked in 1984. For in the end, “He loved Big Brother.”
Here’s some good trivia. Orwell’s arithmetic reflected an actual bit of Soviet propaganda. In 1929, the U.S.S.R. advocated an “acceleration program” in which they insisted that the goals of their five-year plan could be achieved if everyone just worked harder. Just like Boxer.