Op-Ed: An open letter to conservative thinker Prof. Thomas Flanagan
A letter to an intellectual, academic, and top Conservative party ideologue concerning, statements which have grave consequences for journalists around the world.
Dear Prof. Flanagan,
You recently made statements which perhaps were meant to amuse bored television viewers, or could have been wilfully misinterpreted or misconstrued by your political opponents, who obviously have an ax to grind against you and your party . Or if one stretches the imagination, the things you said (inadvertently?) perhaps were intended to add levity to your fellow faculty members' lives, at your distinguished university. Who knows?
Now, I am sure you are not an evil man, as some say you are or depict you to be, just a bit eccentric that's all, which goes with the professorial persona.
Some people, I have read, and spoken with (all nasty Liberals or worse.. that's supposed to be funny), compare you in a flattering fashion to Karl Rove, possibly due to your brilliant strategic aptitudes which brought a minority government to power for a very respectable duration of time. Others compare you unfavourably, to Nazi ideologues such as the "pure power" thinker par excellence
, the Übermensch
Carl Schmitt. While others might say you're the most brilliant thinker or a party hack of the first order; a man who is the intellectual calibre of a Soviet hardliner, or ruthless ideologue, like Mikhial Suslov known as the "Red Eminence".
I mention these men because as a political science professor you might know them, too. Now, without further prevarication, I shall to get to my point. Whichever way your remarks related to Mr. Julian Assange, are taken, or whether or not you meant what you said , is irrelevant at this stage as the damage has been done it seems as both you, and the man who accused you of "inciting murder" are now dealing with the police. My reference is to the remarks you made last week, to have the Wikileaks director and journalist assassinated. Now, I (and some others it seems)
for one, find such incendiary comments most objectionable. Not because, I disagree with your right to express your views in the media, however contrary to my principles they may to me, but because calling for a "hired" killing, or a "contract" to be taken out on another person maybe funny (in cowboy country) and of dubious legality and taste. But such statements have to be taken (in another context) as being perfectly serious, especially if you are a journalist, working in places like Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, Angola, Russia or Mexico.
Allow me to explain. If you were a journalist (and I am sure you know some well) you might understand that your words, when expressed in other parts of the world, or when spoken in the open or in front of television cameras are taken extremely in earnest and lead to exactly what you advocated, or could happen to Mr. Assange. In most countries in the Third Word when an influential power-broker, politician, government advisor, or key aide to a head of government, or someone like yourself, calls for someone's death, it's like an order from the top . And in many instances such remarks are taken for what they are as direct threats, putting people in mortal danger, and are often carried out with meticulous efficiency. With all due respect, Herr. Professor, does that mean, you might have blood on your hands as a result? No, of course not, but your conscience can't be too clear either.
Reporters, editors, even journalists' sources and the directives from above, are executed in more ways than one. My Mexican colleagues
(Mexico is a country I know well, and spent several years in, covering the violence and corruption there) or fellow journalist are killed almost regularly like flies, or targeted for assassination, or intimidated with death threats which are often followed up on. Sometimes this is done with official government backing or complicity. So do you see what I am getting at here? You may find your remarks funny or laughable, or other journalists in the media might also, who need a chuckle or two, but the majority (including me) don't or are not amused; especially in the countries mentioned above, by your calls to have someone done away with . They are perceived as being not only in very bad taste, but also deadly serious. And in politics as you know, perception is everything.