Reader Mail

Beware of 1984 in the 21st century

I heartily congratulate Ted Rall for his honesty and courage in calling out the current climate for journalists whose views are deemed by corporate management to be outside the mainstream (“Real freedom of the press doesn’t exist in the U.S.” in the Aug. 27 edition).

I would only add that academics in the U.S. have also suffered from such suppression. I know this firsthand. I have tried throughout my career to be objective and neutral in my analysis. My goal is to give the best analysis and advice that I can — without a political slant toward any country, including the U.S.

As a result I am frequently personally attacked. Worse, although I am widely published around the world, some Washington-based publications will not publish my work. Like Rall, I am apparently “radioactive” to their editors.

I spent most of my career as a researcher at a U.S. government-supported think tank focused on Asia. I sometimes felt politically pressured by my superiors and several times was directly told that I should not research what I wanted to or conclude what I did. Management feared that U.S. government support to the institution might be endangered. Their admonishments led to self-censorship — which I deeply regret.

But I thought retiring would free me to research forefront controversial topics, and to produce and publish analytical conclusions that were not necessarily supportive of the current U.S. position.

However, as Rall explains, I was wrong.

We — and many other like-minded pundits — have suffered. But so has humanity by being denied the benefits of the full spectrum of ideas and perspective. By revealing our plight we may be the canary in the coal mine. Taken to the extreme, this practice could result in a 21st century 1984. All editors should consider whether they are part of the problem, or part of the solution.

MARK J. VALENCIA
NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR SOUTH CHINA SEA STUDIES HAIKOU, CHINA

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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