Unlike those in the mob gleefully calling for Rupert Murdoch’s blood, Gregory Clark, in his July 20 article, “Murdoch’s moral rise and fall,” is thoughtful, even compassionate. Murdoch is, it would seem, a tragic figure, lured by ambition and greed into becoming a tool of the usual suspects: rightwing reactionaries.
By contrast, Clark appears to commend Wilfred Burchett, the late Australian journalist (who was denied a passport by Canberra), for his “brave and accurate coverage of the wars in Korea and Vietnam.” While I feel ambivalent toward Murdoch, I am outraged by the attempt to portray Burchett as a martyr.
Burchett was not a journalist first, but rather a relentless apologist for communist totalitarianism. Back in the mid-1960s, as a young leftist in France, I read the French translation of Burchett’s “Vietnam: Inside Story of the Guerilla War,” a romanticization of the Viet Cong. I admit I was taken in. A few years later I read Burchett’s “Again Korea,” and as I knew a lot more about Korea than about Vietnam, I saw that it was hogwash.
Burchett’s fanciful picture of North Korea’s hellhole and its brutal leaders was grotesque enough, but he made himself laughable by mangling the name of the South Korean president throughout the book. Separately, Burchett even defended the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe, including their judicial murders, and the Khmer Rouge. By denying Burchett a passport, the Australian government only helped the cause of the left.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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