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Toby Terrar, "The Religious Ethic in the History of American Free Press Philosophy, The Prohibition of Journalistic Racism and the New World Information Order." This article originally appeared in Southern University Law Review (Baton Rouge), vol. 17 (Spring 1990), pp. 81-101.
INTRODUCTION. This article is about that part of the American tradition which has prohibited the dissemination of racism in the press and the philosophy behind that prohibition. It is suggested here that the philosophy behind the prohibition is derived in large measure from the religious ethic of being your brother's keeper. Especially during the cold war period, the commercial press, textbooks and schools of journalism have tended to engage in a type of censorship about the nature of America's anti-racist free press tradition.
With the cold war over, it is possible to be more objective. The New World Information Order (NWIO) and its embodiment in the International Principles of Professional Ethics in Journalism (1983), in prohibiting the dissemination of racism, has roots in the American tradition. Among the journalists and publishers associations which have opposed the NWIO in the recent past were those with a religious connection, such as the American Catholic Press Association and the Associated (Protestant) Press. These organizations, because of their sensitivity to the religious ethic, can now become a light for the broader population in supporting the NWIO and the International Principles.
The plan of presentation will be to discuss examples of America's religiously based, anti-racist press tradition. Then will follow an examination of the relation between the NWIO and this tradition.
COLD WAR FREE PRESS PHILOSOPHY AND THE DISTORTION OF THE EARLY AMERICAN RELIGIOUS ETHIC. In the aftermath of World War II, there was a favorable shift in the balance of world power toward the developing nations, trade unions, people of color and women. Cold war forces at the same time worked to overthrow democratic governments, as in Iran (1953) and Guatemala (1954). They made war on progressive trade unions, universities, newspapers, radios and churches. The period produced a version of American history and a philosophy which omitted as a category of analysis, the ethic against dissemination of racism as a category of analysis. This was part of a broader ideology that tended to pit America against popular liberation struggle throughout the world.
Leonard Levy and Daniel Boorstein were scholars in the period and are illustrative those who downplayed the category of race. After the publication in 1960 of his Legacy of Suppression: Freedom of Speech and Press in Early American History, Levy's views on the nature and origins of American free press philosophy had wide circulation. Textbooks, scholarly articles and even the United States Supreme Court cited his conclusions. The author of a survey in the journal, Journalism History stated: "Legacy has generated about as much scholarship as any work in recent memory." Levy commented in 1981 that a motive for his writing about the press was the "totalitarian" threat.
In tracing the origin of America's press philosophy, Levy chose as a focus of his analysis, the conflict in the 1750s between the Quaker (Pennsylvania Assembly) party and the Proprietary party and its leader, William Smith (1727-1803). The Quaker party jailed Smith for using the press to teach racial hatred. The Seven Years War was in progress and Smith wanted the Quaker Assembly to fund an army against the Indians. While the illegality of advocating racism and aggression was the issue in the case, this was left out in Levy's analysis. The distortion was not unlike American foreign policy, as the following examination will reveal.
Quaker press philosophy against racism arose from the religious ethic about being your brother's keeper. John Woolman (1720-1772) described the belief:
To consider mankind otherwise than brethren, to think favors are peculiar to one nation and exclude others, plainly supposes a darkness in the understanding. To conclude a people perverse and worse by nature than others, excites a behavior toward them unbecoming the excellence of true religion.
The press was seen as having a function in educating people to the ideals of good citizenship and against racism and war. Many Quakers, as good citizens, took up journalism and pamphletering as a second vocation. Gary Nash, an historian of the Quaker press, writes of John Smith's contribution:
The literacy rate was higher in colonial America. . . Lengthy pamphlets were often distributed gratis. Half of the 1000 copies of John Smith's Doctrine of Christianity, a Quaker plea for noninvolvement in war, were distributed free in 1748, so "that it might have the more universal influence over the Province."
During the colonial period Indians were sometimes defrauded, enslaved and even killed as a result of war-making instigated and financed by London and European profit-seeking policy makers. This included Queen Ann's War (1701-1713), King George's War (1740s) and the Seven Years War (1755-1763). If the press in England and the colonies during these wars tended toward war-mongering and racism, a tool for aggression, this was seldom the case in Pennsylvania. When the proprietary press did engage in racism, steps were taken to halt it.
Smith was an Anglican clergyman and proprietary leader. He published several newspaper articles and pamphlets, including A Brief State of the Province of Pennsylvania (1755), accusing the Quakers of treason, warned of imminent danger from the Indians if the Quaker party was not dismantled, and suggested barring Quakers from office and even from voting. Smith's journalism engaged in censorship. It hid the truth about the Indian point of view. The Delawares, some of whom were Christian, including their chief, Teedyuscung, a Moravian, wanted peace. Smith himself complained that the Indians were continually attending Quaker meetings, praying and worshipping with the Quakers and entertained in Quaker homes. The Indians were negotiating for funding so that the Presbyterian Charles Thomson, who was a part-time minister and school teacher in one of their villages, could become permanent. They called him "man of truth," because he he treated them with justice. The assembly brought a libel suit against Smith in 1758, convicted him, and incarcerated him for three months.
For being incarcerated, Levy counts Smith a freedom fighter, a principled hero of press freedom. Levy's account starts with Smith's trial and omits discussion of the Quaker religious ethic, their press philosophy, and the racial context and reason underlying the libel charges against Smith. In Levy's analysis, Smith was an "extremely influential person, who thought it was his duty to 'keep the Dutch press as free as any other in the province'" and who "proved his mettle" by attacking the assembly in a series of articles while still in jail. The following, which begins with a quote from Smith, illustrates how Levy censors race out of free press philosophy:
"There is nothing the Law of England is more tender about than the Freedom of the Press, Knowing it to be the great Bulwark of all other freedom." Smith then launched into a pastiche from Cato's Letters, starting with an extract from Number 15, "Of Freedom of Speech." In his third essay Smith condemned the legislature's "uncommon endeavors, used for a number of years past, to overawe the Press, and to vilify and intimidate the advocates for impartial Enquiry."
From the Indian and Quaker perspective, the government interference with William Smith's racial censorship was part of a legacy of press freedom, a service to Indian citizens. It contributed to protecting their life and property.
In many areas Indians composed thirty-five percent or more of the colonial population. They had a history of press freedom. Their libertarians were Indians like James the Printer, who reduced the native American languages to writing and published works in them; the citizens of the Five Indian Nations for whom free speech and debate were among the basic principles of government; the Indians who established and funded schools for teaching literacy; and those who worked for the abolition of war and racism, the main enemies of press freedom.
For Levy, the press philosophy of the Indians and Quakers was a legacy of suppression. The freedom fighters became tyrants while the exploitative and aggressive were free press martyrs. In cold war terms, the legacy of suppression is not that the native race was robbed and killed, but that occasionally the disseminators of racism and war-mongering racists were inhibited by popular government.
AFRO-AMERICAN PRESS FREEDOM CONSTITUTED BY THE RELIGIOUS ETHIC. Like the Quaker press philosophy in the 1750s, the history of the Afro-American press teaches that press freedom is defended and expanded through the ethic of being your brother's keeper. Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was typical in his motive for being a journalist: "Everyone of us should be ashamed to consider himself free while his brother is a slave."
The religious ethic did not mean the press could be neutral or detached from racial justice, but that it had to be dependent upon and constituted by racial justice. Afro press freedom flourished only with the advance that resulted in emancipation in the 1860s. By 1890 there had grown up 200 Afro newspapers and by 1920, 500.
Irving Penn studied the 24 Afro-American pre-Civil War newspapers. They generally had religious connections and reflected the religious ethic in their advocacy against racism. Their titles were expressive of their non-neutrality toward racial injustice: Rights For All, Mirror Of Liberty, Genius Of Freedom, Alienated American, Ram's Horn, Elevator. The philosophy of the Freedman's Journal, which was started by an Afro cleric, was stated in an editorial on March 30, 1827:
The law of God requires that all provision should be made by law which the public welfare will admit, for the protection and improvement of colored subjects, as well as white subjects. And this has not been done. We must show that their rights are acknowledged, their protection secured and their welfare promoted.
To the limited extent it "interfered" with the Southern slavocracy press and its Copperhead (Democratic party) counterpart in the North, the Abraham Lincoln administration contributed to, it did not lessen the free press heritage. It was the racist press which engaged in censorship. It hid the truth about Afro-American organizations and culture. The upholders of press freedom were the armies of Butler in New Orleans, Grant in Mississippi, Sherman in Georgia and newspapers such as the Afro-American Raleigh Independent. Its motto was "Neutral in Nothing."
Illustrative of censorship by the racist press in the slavery era was the Democratic party's New York World. It campaigned to have publisher Frederick Douglass exiled to Canada and to close down his North Star Review (1847-1860). The North Star defended the Republican party and the containment of slavery. The Democratic party did close down the Telegraphy in Alton, Illinois -- three times. It killed the editor, Rev. Elijah Lovejoy in 1837, when he struggled against the fourth attempt to close it down.
An early twentieth-century historian noted the censorship that existed toward the Afro-American press during that period:
Newspapers like the Defender are cordially execrated among white men in the South. An article in the Defender was held responsible for the riot in Longview, Texas. Governor Charles Brought of Arkansas said he believed the Crisis and Defender were responsible for the Arkansas riots and announced his intention of asking the Postmaster-General to exclude them from the mails. . . A correspondent in Arkansas wrote that "in the present state of mind of the white people of Phillip County, any Negro is as good as dead if he be even suspected of writing for a Northern Negro publication". . . Another correspondent noted: "We here in the South are not allowed to sell Northern Negro newspapers. We have to slip the paper into the hands of our friends. Every public school teacher is closely watched, also the Negro preacher.
The Associated Press (AP), cloaking itself under the mantle of professional objectivity, has often since its inception been a disseminator of racial censorship. Early complaints about it not covering Afro-American leaders, demonstrations and struggles were made in editorials, such as that published in the Wichita Protest in 1919:
Every newspaper editor of our (Afro) group in the country knows that the Associated Press, the leading news distributing service of the country, has carried on a policy of discrimination in favor of the whites and against the blacks, and is doing it daily now. The Associated Negro Press is in receipt of correspondence from editors in various sections of the country decrying the way in which the AP writes its stories of happenings where colored people are affected.
The AP censored the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. Afro-Americans would testify that they were prohibited from voting, and then southern officials would be quoted as saying the Afro-American statements were untrue. Quoting both sides without digging deeper to ascertain the truth was not objective reporting and was frequently the norm. To the present day there is an absence of AP and commercial journalism reporting on Afro and other nationalities, except to picture them negatively as associated with drugs, crime and other sensationalism. No plan or program is offered for bringing racial betterment.
Against such censorship press freedom has existed only where journalists, refusing to reflect or be neutral toward reality, worked like a hammer of racial justice to make reality. A scholar has noted concerning press freedom in the period of Jim Crow:
Instead of merely reflecting "life" the Negro newspapers, in setting themes for discussion and suggesting the foci of attention, helps powerfully to create that life.
THE RELIGIOUS ETHIC IN THE PRESENT DAY UNITED STATES. Some writers during the past period used a double standard in evaluating free press philosophy. While accepting the ethic of being your brother's keeper as a consideration for contemporary America, they taught that those in the developing and socialist nations should be neutral to the dissemination of racism. Leonard Levy's standard was typical of race neutrality: "So long as the press may be subjected to government control, the press cannot be free - or is not as free as it should be." Elisha Hanson, legal council to the American Publishers Association in 1951 attacked the developing and socialist nations for seeking to prohibit the dissemination of racism in their nations. Hanson stated that advocacy in the United Nations for anti-racist legislation was "the ultimate in hostile action against the right of American people to enjoy free speech and to have a free press." Similar were the views of William Flemming and Leonard Theberge, officers of the American Bar Association, and its international communications committee. Flemming commented: "We should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinion that we loathe and believe to be frought with death."
To their credit, most cold warriors voiced no objections to intervention in the U.S. against the dissemination of racial hatred. Such intervention included laws that prohibited the publication of racist and anti-semitic ideas, as in newspaper ads ("only whites need apply," "churches nearby," "no Irish hired"). The cold warriors went along with the Supreme Court, which confirmed, as in Beauharnais v. Illinois, 343 US 250 (1952), the state codes that prohibited the publication of false or malicious defamation of racial and religious groups. These embodied the philosophy that being your brother's keeper required active government intervention to combat America's long history of racial murders, lynchings, assaults, forced sterilizations, interference with economic and political rights - including interference with the press freedom of nationality groups. The Supreme Court itself acknowledged that these defamation laws reduced racism and were no threat to but rather an aid in expanding nationality press freedom.
One did not hear from the American Publishers Association any claim that America's free press philosophy was violated by the Nuremberg Tribunal's execution of Nazis like Julius Streicher. Although he took no administrative or military part in war crimes, Streicher's anti-semitic propaganda was judged to have "incited murder and extermination." The prosecution emphasized that Nazi propaganda for racism, anti-semitism and war-mongering did not lose out in the free market place of ideas. Nazism almost conquered the world and took 50 million lives to put down. Even during the cold war it dominated in nations like South Africa and Chile. The US legislation, under which the Nazi propaganda was suppressed, was still part of the United States Army Field Manual:
The belligerent occupant may establish censorship of the press, radio, theater, and motion pictures, of correspondence, and of all other means of communication. It may prohibit entirely the publication of newspapers or prescribe regulations for their publication and circulation.
In present day America, the racially "neutral," "no government interference" standard is not dominant. Rather, the legislatures and courts continue the traditional ethic in looking to freedom and responsibility, social utility, the balancing of social interests and the power to protect the public health, safety, national defense and moral well-being. William Livingston (1723-1790), a member of the Constitutional Convention noted concerning the religious ethic: "Liberty of the press means promoting the common good of society, it does not mean unrestraint in writing." The philosophy of being your brother's keeper, as expressed in Augustine, Aquinas and Calvin had always set government, society and the press's goal as the common good, peace, security and protection of life, health, family relations and good name. Government press regulation was not seen as counterposed to but a support of press freedom. The cold warriors did not suggest otherwise. Only against the developing nations was the double standard raised.
Frederick Schauer in Free Speech: a Philosophical Inquiry (1982) associates majority rule and government regulation with threatening the press's right to freely make a profit. He makes no mention that the U.S. commercial press depends for its existence on majority enacted government regulations, such as corporation laws which shield owners from personal financial liability and allow them to raise and preserve capital. Through inheritance laws, the government allows them to pass newspaper ownership to their heirs. They are helped through newspaper mailing privileges and postal subsidies that go back to the Quakers and Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette in the 1700s. The commercial press would go out of business but for court regulated contracts, finance, labor and banking laws, and the awarding of compensation for tortious acts. Government regulations provide for police, fire, military and sanitation services which preserve press property from theft, fire and foreign invasion. Schauer mentions his concern about the "totalitarian" problem, but downplays the totalitarian dependence of the commercial press upon the American people and their government.
THE COMPATIBILITY OF THE RELIGIOUS ETHIC WITH THE NWIO AND THE INTERNATIONAL PRINCIPLES OF PROFESSIONAL ETHICS IN JOURNALISM. The NWIO and the International Principles of Professional Ethics in Journalism are compatible with and embody the religious ethic. With the cold war over, what is needed is more interest in "original intent" - the intent of the early Americans, not that of the present day commercial press; and more interest in the free market place of ideas - the uncensored version of early American press philosophy. The International Principles and the NWIO are "new" in some parts of the world; in the United States they are a heritage.
The first of the International Principles rephrases American revolutionary William Livingston: press freedom is the people's, not the press owner's and advertiser's, right. Principle III flows from this and embodies the religious ethic:
Information in journalism is understood as social good and not as a commodity, which means that the journalist shares responsibility for the information transmitted and is thus accountable not only to those controlling the media but ultimately to the public at large.
The social responsibilities which Principle VIII and IX set forth prohibit the dissemination of racism:
The journalist must stand for the universal values of humanism, above all peace, democracy, human rights, social progress and national liberation. . . The journalist must abstain from any justification from, or incitement to, wars of aggression and the arms race, especially in nuclear weapons, and all other forms of violence, hatred or discrimination, especially racialism and apartheid, colonialism and neo-colonialism, as well as other great evils which affect humanity, such as poverty, malnutrition and diseases.
Principle IV establishes a guard against editorial neutrality toward racism by mandating editorial democracy. This means membership by people of color, the public and working journalists on newspaper boards of directors and editorial boards --a racial justice affirmative action program from top to bottom, including ownership of the press. It requires, as was the case with the Quaker and Afro press, and is the case in some socialist and developing nations, making perhaps half of newspaper space available for citizen journalists, rather than for advertisers. The Soviet press is illustrative of those whose daily circulation outstrips that of the U.S.: 116 million Soviet copies (422 per 1000 population) to 63 million U.S. copies (268 per 1000 population). The commercial press is not competitive in gaining readership and popular support. This is because it is not responsive to popular needs, such as racial justice. Principle IV forces the U.S. press to become competitive.
The NWIO implements the United Nations' Charter mandate against colonialism, racism and foreign interference via the media in the internal affairs of sovereign nations. American laws prohibit racist ideas in the media. When the developing nations enact similar laws, as in the NWIO, they should be congratulated, not attacked as violators of press freedom.
In one version of the NWIO, the developing nations propose to set regulations for the four major multi-national news agency conglomerates that account for 85 percent of the international news circulated. These regulations would make the news agencies be responsive to the ethic of being your brother's keeper. The press would serve as a full constructive element in national and international programs of education, family planning, agriculture and industrialization. It would work to eradicate illiteracy, poverty and war. This is the American tradition of press freedom. The news agency censorship that undermines the cultural heritage of national states, that impedes their independent development, that disorients the public and that prevents them from establishing their own information service is not in the American tradition.
Many in the developing nations and in the United States voice disapproval of the commercial press for diverting the attention of their people from acute social and political problems by disseminating racism, national hatred and chauvinism, and by dealing in sensationalism, pornography, scandal and compromising "facts" from the lives of famous people. In the view of some in the developing nations, the news agencies have been the apparatus for organizing biased information that meets the political, military and economic interests of the rich. During the cold war the NWIO was opposed more because it favored the people, than because it involved government interference. It strengthened public and governmental news agencies, and it established a federation of state news agencies that was not dependent on the private sector for their international news sources.
CONCLUSION. The religious ethic, in its prohibition of racism, has had a positive role in the history of the American press. The diversity of American nationality groups have been better able to each contribute via the press to enriching the country. Between 1987 and 1991 the United States is celebrating the bicentennial of the Constitution and First Amendment press freedom. Those who have the most to celebrate are those in the coalition working for the ethic of being your brother's keeper. This philosophy is embodied in the public radio and television system, the nationality, trade union, church and other non-commercial presses, the campaign for the readmission of the U.S. to UNESCO and for the progress of the NWIO in the U.S. This coalition advanced press freedom in gaining the U.S. Senate approval in 1986 of the U.N. Genocide Convention, which includes a prohibition on genocidal propaganda.
Perhaps the bicentennial can be a time when organizations like the American Catholic Press Association (ACPA), the American Jewish Press Association, the Associated (Protestant) Church Press, the Evangelical Press Association, the Southern Baptist Press Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists will reconsider their opposition to the International Principles of Professional Ethics in Journalism. These organizations and the churches and temples whose policy they reflect and help create, have a strong psychological impact upon millions of people who look to them for information and guidance in determining the nature of principled journalism. These press organizations through the National Council of Churches and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, help establish federal government policy.
Marvin Olasky, a Protestant journalism professor, recently published a study of American press philosophy. He found that during the last two-thirds of the nineteenth century and up to the present, the American commercial press set aside the biblical principles, such as racial justice, on which the press has been founded. This was because it (the "prodigal press") substituted in large measure the sale (and outlook) of advertising in place of revenue from and service to subscribers. In terms of International Principle III, commercial journalism became a commodity mainly to make profits for the media owner and advertiser. Only monopolists (in Olasky's language, "Behemoths") survive. Many presses put racial justice and other principles above profit and were not supported by advertisers.
Such has been the censorship of the commercial media during the cold war, that Olasky concludes his book by himself rejecting the religious ethic. In its place he follows the idea that press freedom means freedom to make a profit. Monopolists like Henry Luce and William Hearst are held up for emulation. Rejecting St Paul and Calvin, Olasky counterposes freedom and government. He uses original sin and the Fall as justification for individualism and cynicism about the political system, which sometimes results in people staying home from the polls or voting their narrow self-interests or giving up on the press. For Olasky, the religious ethic brings stagnation, while "the private enterprise system always escapes from stagnation, as new challenges arise." In cold war terms, the stagnant, racially neutral monopoly press becomes the defender of "biblical principles."
Olasky, like Schauer and the commercial press, talk highly of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Felix Frankfurter and their "free market place of ideas" press philosophy. The racial hypocrisy of the market place theory was condemned by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and William E. DuBois at the time Holmes first wrote about it in 1919. The NAACP was demanding the banning of the film Birth of a Nation. This film appeared when the legalization and institutionalization of Jim Crow was dominant and when the disfranchisement of the Afro-American masses of the South was accomplished. Vile in its racism, it was shown to tens of millions of people during and after World War I and played a part in the slaughter of Afro-American citizens in Tulsa, Washington, D.C., East St. Louis, Chicago, Texas, Arkansas and Georgia. For Holmes and Schauer, the free market place of ideas does not reflect a faith that truth will be found there. They are skeptics, agnostics and cynics, with a low regard for science and progress. To the extent the free market philosophy controls it, the press is not to liberate from racial oppression. The free market idea has sometimes been an obstacle to racial justice. It has served to obviscate and justify the fact that only for its owners is the press "free". The owners have monopolized and censored the press market place with their race neutrality in seeking to maximize profit.
The American Catholic Press Association is a member of the International Catholic Union of the Press (ICUP), which was established in 1926 and is headquartered in Geneva. The ICUP was one of eight international press organizations that formulated the International Principles of Professional Ethics in Journalism. The Latin-American Federation of Press Workers, Latin American Federation of Journalists, Confederation of Asian Journalists and the Union of African Journalists also contributed. Each has a substantial Catholic membership. The American Catholic press has a history of defending the religious ethic, as in 1917 when the Freeman's Journal and Catholic Register (New York), was shut down by the government because it advocated liberation of Ireland from English racism. It printed an opinion by Thomas Jefferson that Ireland should be a republic.
In February 1989 the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace, under the leadership of Cardinal Roger Etchegaray issued a declaration that reflects the International Principles of Professional Ethics in Journalism. Titled The Church and Racism: Towards a More Fraternal Society, it directed Catholics to fight racism, anti-semitism, apartheid and national chauvinism through prayer and deeds, including legislative action. Most of the world's 800 million Catholics are people of color, living in the developing nations of Asia, Africa and South America. They are part of the impetus behind the NWIO and the International Principles. They have not suffered from the censored cold war version of press philosophy. American Catholics can draw upon their international co-religious for support in encouraging the American Catholic Press Association to conform to the religious ethic and the international norm.
If God had not invented the religious ethic, the people would have had to do it on their own. Science, reason and the nature of human existence require it. Thus the ethic of being your brother's keeper at the heart of communist morality is there not because of religion, but because the ethic reflects the truth. In the recent past, some religious believers have been disoriented in rejecting God's wish for them to be their brother's keeper, at least when it came to the press. The study of history teaches that Americans have always had a right and duty to make their press reflect the religous ethic. The NWIO and the International Priciples, in working against the censorship of racism in the press is the ethic mentioned by John Brown (1800-1895) translated into journalistic terms. Present day believers faced with the happy challenge of no more cold war can take courage and vision from Brown 's being "yet too young," even as he was on trial for his life, to learn that religion had nothing to say about racism:
This court acknowledges, too, as I suppose, the validity of the law of God. I see a book kissed, which I suppose to be the Bible, or at least the Mew Testament, which teaches me that all things whatsoever I would that men should do to me, I shoud do even so to them (Luke 6:3). It teaches me further to remember them that are in bonds as bound with them (Hebrews 6:3). I endeavored to act up to that instruction. I say I am yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). I believe that to have interfered as I have done, as I have always freely admitted I have done in behalf of His despised poor, is no wrong but right.
Daniel Boorstein, The Americans: The Colonial Experience (New York: Random House, 1958), p. 57. Francis Jennings, Empire of Fortune: Crown, Colonies and Tribes in the Seven Years War in America (New York: Norton, 1988), p. 480, commented on a nineteenth-century predecessor of the cold warriors:
Francis Parkman was a liar. He fabricated documents, misquoted others, pretended to use his great collection of sources when he really relied almost entirely on a small set of nasty biased secondary works, and did it all in order to support an ideology of divisiveness and hate based on racism, bigotry, misogyny, authoritarianism and chauvinism, and upper-class arrogance. I do not subscribe to the view that objectivity requires a blandly even handed discussion of the villain and his victim in the same polite terms: a murder is not just a person who was present when another person died. Let me recall the scene in Charlie Chaplain's film The Great Dictator in which dictator Hinkel screams and froths in a violent diatribe against "die Juden! die Juden !! DIE JUDEN !!!" His radio commentator interprets this maniacal outburst into one English sentence: "Die Fuehrer referred to the Jews." This is not objectivity.
Leonard Levy, Legacy of Suppression: Freedom of Speech and Press in Early American History (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1960).
Terry Hyner, "Survey," Journalism History, 7 (1981), 114.
Ibid., pp. 99, 103.
An objective discussion of the case can be found in the writings of historians Gary Nash, Robert Daiutolo and Francis Jennings. Nash's treatment of the conflict starts off by showing how Quaker religious philosophy in the colonial period tended to require service to the public welfare, not to William Penn and the English capitalists who financed Pennsylvania. Nash, The Urban Crucible: Social Change, Political Consciousness and the Origins of the American Revolution (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979), p. 95, writes:
Quaker leader David Lloyd issued the call that government must exist not as an extension of proprietary authority but as the instrument of the people's will. This, of course, had been the axiom of those who struggled against Penn's prerogatives from the very beginning.
Indians were people and their interests were generally served by the Quakers. As Nash, Red, White and Black: The Peoples of Early America (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1974, 2nd ed., 1982), p. 95, puts it:
Quakerism was dedicated to the principle of nonviolence and just relations among people of all religions and races. . . Interracial relations in the Delaware River Valley stood in sharp contrast to other parts of North America.
John Woolman, The Journal and Major Essays of John Woolman, ed. Phillips Moulton (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 202.
Nash, The Urban Crucible. . ., p. 200. Philadelphia's non-Quaker press tended to follow the Quaker example in educating against racism and war. Nash, Ibid., p. 230, observes:
In 1740, when the proprietary party made its first concerted effort to challenge the Quaker party, the most important German printer in the colony convinced most of the Germans that "there was a (proprietary) Design to enslave them: to force their young Men to be Soldiers, make them serve as Pioneers, and to go down to work upon our Fortifications." The Proprietary party's attempt to split the German vote failed miserably in Philadelphia county as the Germans "came down in shoals and carried all before them."
The minority proprietary party controlled Pennsylvania's appointive offices (governor, judiciary, council). However, the Quakers set policy, including press philosophy, as they controlled the popularly elected assembly. This meant white and Indian generally lived side by side in relative harmony. Unjust business relations and war-mongering were suppressed.
At the start of the Seven Years War in 1755, the British army, led by Edward Braddock (1695-1755), was defeated by Indians in Western Pennsylvania. The Indians then went after backwoods Scots-Irish and Germans "to settle the score of their encroachment," as Nash, Red, White and Black. . ., p. 250 puts it. Nash, Ibid., p. 252 comments: "Quakers believed the Scots-Irish frontiersmen were only reaping what they had sowed through years of abusing and defrauding Indians." The fraud of Thomas and John Penn, both of whom had given up the Quaker religion, is discussed by Francis Jennings, The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire: The Covenant Chain Confederation of Indian Tribes with English Colonies from its Beginnings to the Lancaster Treaty of 1744 (New York: W. W. Norton, 1984), pp. 325-346, and Robert Daiutolo, "The Role of the Quakers in Indian Affairs During the French and Indian Wars," Quaker History, 77 (1988) 19. To pay off their debts, Thomas and John Penn in 1737 robbed the Delaware Indians of their lands on the Delaware River by the device known as the Walking Purchase. Afterwards proprietary officials like William Allen Jr. made a fortune in land speculation in that region.
The Quaker-dominated Pennsylvania assembly sided with the Indians, believing them engaged in a just war of self-defense. It refused any allocation of funds to raise an army against the Indians or to allow the Philadelphia proprietary press to war-monger. Instead, as Daiutolo, "The Role of the Quakers in Indian Affairs During the French and Indian Wars. . ., p. 17 points out, an annual 2000 pound sterling subscription was raised by the Quakers, Mennonites and New Light Presbyterians to indemnify the Indians for the land fraud done against them by the whites in Western Pennsylvania. An agent was also sent to London to have the proprietor ousted because of the fraud. The William Smith case arose when the proprietary party was trying to make the assembly alter its no-army position.
Nash, The Urban Crucible. . ., p. 268; William Smith, A Brief State of the Province of Pennsylvania (London: R. Griffiths, 1755); Peter C. Hoffer, "Law and Liberty: In the Matter of Provost William Smith of Philadelphia, 1758," William and Mary Quarterly (October 1981), 681-701. A Benjamin Franklin ally, as quoted in Nash, The Urban Crucible. . ., p. 269, described Smith's "fear-mongering, deception, innuendo and scurrility" as "the vomitings of this infamous Hireling. . . [which] betoken that Redundancy of Rancor, and Rotteness of Hart, which renders him the most despicable of his Species." Benjamin Franklin was the hero and leader of Philadelphia's artisan class. He founded a volunteer citizens militia that answered defense needs, cost no taxes and killed no Indians. Franklin's great popularity carried many Anglicans away from the proprietary party and caused a schism in the church, since he was inveterately opposed by Smith.
Daiutolo, "The Role of the Quakers in Indian Affairs During the French and Indian Wars. . ., pp. 9. 20.
Leonard Levy, Emergence of a Free Press (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), pp. 52, 55-56.
Ibid., p. 56. According to Levy, Ibid., pp. 53-54, 56, the Quaker assembly represented a "tyranny," a "Stuart despot," a "Star Chamber" which conducted a "mock trial before a kangaroo court, acting as accuser, judge and jury," "a Wonderland of the Knave of Hearts for stealing the tarts - the sentence 'Off with his head!' preceded both trial and verdict," and a violation of "due process, Magna Carta and the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679." Levy condemns Benjamin Franklin who was the assembly's special agent in London at the time. Franklin, among other things a journalist, wrote a refutation to every point of Smith's appeal to the Privy Council. Levy, Ibid., p. 57, relates:
Franklin declared Smith "had suffered not at all by the Censure of the House for publishing a Libel, he having been long considered as a common Scribbler of Libels against Publick Bodies." And he argued that no appeal could be taken from the judgment of the assembly. Thus spoke America's foremost printer and reputed champion of freedom of the press. He was not just doing his job. He believed in the position he represented.
The Privy Council, which reversed the assembly, acted justly, in Levy's view. But as Levy complains, the assembly saw itself as inferior to no one, and ignored the Privy Council.
Carol L. Bagley, "Iroquois Contributions to Modern Democracy and Communism," American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 7 (no. 2, 1983), pp. 53-72; Cadwallder Colden, The History of the Five Indian Nations (New York: AMS Press, 1927,1973).
Isaiah Thomas, The History of Printing in America (New York: Weathervane Press, 1970); James Murphy, Let My People Know: American Indian Journalism (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1981); James P. Danky, Native American Periodicals and Newspapers (Westport: Greenwood, 1984).
Philip Foner, Frederick Douglass: A Biography (New York: Citadel, 1969), p. 95. Douglass's journalism career had a religious connection, the bible, from the start. As soon as he taught himself to read, he began to instruct his fellow slaves on how to read the bible in Sunday school. Literacy was considered as directly linked to the emancipation of the race. Thomas L. Webber, Deep Like the Rivers: Education in the Slave Quarter Community (New York: Norton, 1978), pp. 132-133, 144, starting with a quote from a slave narrative, writes:
"It seemed to me that if I could learn to read and write, the learning might -- nay I really thought it would, point out to me the way to freedom, influence, and real, secure, happiness. . ." The narratives do not leave the impression that most of the quarter members thought of freedom only in heavenly terms or were content to wait until their deaths to partake of its blessings.
Douglass, as quoted in Foner, Ibid., pp. 20, 83, wrote in 1847 of the religious ethic behind his newspaper: "I shall enter on my duties with a full sense of my accountability to God, the slaves and to the dear friends who have aided in the undertaking."
Frederich Detweiler, The Negro Press in the United States (College Park, Md.: McGrath Publishing Co., 1922, 1968), pp. 1-2. In 1920 most black newspapers were in the South - 35 in Alabama, 26 in Virginia, 149 in the North. According to the National (Black) Newspapers Association, as quoted in Frances Draper, "The Black Press: Needed Now More Than Ever," Dawn, 13 (Baltimore: February 1988), 7, there are currently 161 black weeklies and monthlies. See also, Henry L. Suggs (ed.) The Black Press in the South, 1865 - 1979 (Westport: Greenwood, 1983); Walter Daniel, Black Journals of the US (Westport: Greenwood, 1982).
Irving G. Penn, The Afro-American Press and Its Editors (Springfield, Ill.: 1891), p. 27.
Detweiler, The Negro Press in the United States. . ., p. 43. The African Methodist church established the first Afro-American press in 1817. Because other forms of expression were outlawed, it published a hymnal. Only later (1841) did it put out the Christian Herald, about which W. E. DuBois (ed.), Economic Co-operation among Negroes (Atlanta: Atlanta University Publications, 1907), vol. 12, p. 60, commented:
This paper was looked upon by the slave holders of the South and pro-slavery people of the North as a very dangerous document or sheet, and was watched with a critical eye. It could not be circulated in the slave-holding states (but was). Through the aid of the Christian Commission it did valuable service to the freedmen throughout the South. It followed the army, went into the hovels of the freedmen and also the hospitals, and was placed in the hands of soldiers, spreading cheer and comfort.
Detweiler, The Negro Press in the United States. . ., p. 37. The program of the Colored American, Ibid., p. 39, which published between 1837 and 1842 in New York City was similar: "Its objects are. . . the moral, social and political elevation and improvement of the free colored people; and the peaceful emancipation of the enslaved." The abolitionist Maria Weston as quoted in G. W. Williams, History of the Negro Race in America (New York: 1885), vol. 2, p. 79, wrote of how the Afro press functioned as its brother's keeper:
It is church and university, high school and common school, to all who need real instruction. Of it what a throng of authors, editors, lawyers, orators and accomplished gentlemen of color have taken their degree.
Frank Klement, The Copperheads in the Middle West (New York: Knopf, 1960). Theodore Weld (1803-1895), as quoted in James Stewart, Holy Warriors: The Abolitionists and American Slavery (New York: Norton, 1976), p. 77, commented about slavocracy press freedom:
"Free! The word and the sound are omnipresent masks and mockers. An impious lie unless they stand for free lynch law, free murder; for they are free."
Detweiler, The Negro Press in the United States. . ., p. 106.
Ibid., p. 41; Philip S Foner (ed). The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass (New York: International Publishers, 1975).
Harold Nelson (ed.), Freedom of the Press from Hamilton to the Warren Court (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1967), p. li.
Detweiler, The Negro Press in the United States. . ., pp. 19, 139, 154. Detweiler, p. 154, quotes from the Crisis (June, 1920):
In 1920 the Mississippi Legislature passed an act to make it a misdemeanor to print or publish or circulate printed or published appeals or presentations of arguments or suggestions favoring social equality or marriage between the white and Negro races.
The United States Attorney General, "Letter to the Senate," Investigation Activities of the Department of Justice (Sixty-Sixth Congress, First Session, Sen. Doc. 153; Washington: GPO, 1919), p. 161, listed his grievances against the black press after World War I:
First, ill-governed reaction toward race rioting; second, the threat of retaliatory measures in connection with lynching; third, the more openly expressed demand for social equality, in which demand the sex problem is not infrequently included; fourth, the identification of the Negro with such radical organizations as the Industrial Workers of the World and an outspoken advocacy of the Bolsheviks or Soviet doctrines; fifth, the political stand assumed toward the present Federal administration, the South in general, and incidentally toward the peace treaty and the League of Nations. Underlying these more salient viewpoints is the increasingly emphasized feeling of a race consciousness, in many of these publications always antagonistic to the white race and openly, defiantly assertive of its own equality and even superiority.
Wichita Protest (October 31, 1919), quoted in Detweiler, The Negro Press in the United States. . ., p. 149.
Carolyn Martindal, "Sensitizing Students to Racial Coverage," Journalism Educator, 43 (Summer 1988), p. 80.
It may be that those who are on the frontiers of their world, chiefly in the cities and the ranks of the educated, are most sensitive to the new forces and new standards. But back in quiet rural areas, others are reading their views and arguments, and the whole mass is responding to the printed suggestion. Even a street fight, if the racial issue enters in, stiffens the whole line of conflict and sounds the call to a holy resistance.
Detweiler, p. 131, remarked that the black press, like its white counterpart of the seventeenth and eighteenth century arose specifically in the struggle to make a just social reality, not because shareholders wished to sell advertising:
It is not surprising, then, that we have such titles as Advocate, Hornet, Protest, Challenge, Contender, Defender, Protector, Crusader, Whip, Blade. "We propose," says the Rising Sun of Pueblo, Colorado, "to wage a relentless warfare against everything that prevents us from being recognized as full fledged citizens of America." This emphasis on citizenship with the political and civil rights attaching to it is common to the great majority of the Negro papers. The Rising Sun presents details, on which the press is generally agreed:
We propose to contend for our complete rights before the law, just representation in politics; meritorious consideration in labor, no discrimination in education or public accommodation, no domiciliary restrictions and a repeal or prevention of the enactment of any statute or ordinance by either state or municipality in contravention to the constitution of the United States.
Levy, Emergence of a Free Press. . ., p. xvii.
Elisha Hanson, "Freedom of the Press: Is It Threatened in the UN?" American Bar Association Journal (June 1951) 417; see also, Neal Houghton, The Challenge to International Leadership in Recent American Foreign Policy (Philadeplphia: American Friends Service Committee, 1961).
William Flemming, "Danger to America: the Draft Covenant on Human Rights," American Bar Association Journal 37 (November 1951); Leonard Theberge, "UNESCO's 'New World Information Order": Colliding with First Amendment Values," American Bar Association Journal 67 (June 1981), 714-718.
Herbert Aptheker, "Racism, Fascism and Human Rights," Racism, Imperialism and Peace: Selected Essays by Herbert Aptheker, ed. Marvin Berlowitz (Minneapolis: MEP, 1987), p. 165; Edwin P. Rome, Corporate and Commercial Free Speech: First Amendment Protection of Expression in Business (Westport: Greenwood, 1985); Natan Lerner, The Crime of Incitement to Group Hatred: A Survey of International and National Legislation (New York: World Jewish Congress, 1965); Nelson (ed.), Freedom of the Press. . ., p. 132.
Quincy Wright, "The Crime of 'War-Mongering'," American Journal of International Law, 42 (January 1948), 133.
United States Department of Defense, United States Army Field Manual: The Law of Land Warfare (FM 27-10; 18 July 1956), chapter 6, section II, paragraph 377.
Bean Afange, "The Balancing of Interests in Free Speech Cases: In Defense of an Abused Doctrine," Law in Transition Quarterly, 2 (Winter 1965), 35-63; Thomas M. Cooley, A Treatise on the Constitutional Limitations which Rest Upon the Legislative Power of the States of the American Union (2nd ed.; Boston: Little and Brown, 1871), p. 414; Doris A. Graber, "Press Freedom and the General Welfare," Political Science Quarterly, 101 (no. 2, 1986), 257-275; Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (2nd ed.; Boston: Little and Brown, 1851), vol. 2, p. 597.
Bernard Bailyn (ed.), The Press and the American Revolution (Worcester, Mass.: American Antiquarian Society, 1980), p. 69.
Frederick Schauer, Free Speech: A Philosophical Inquiry (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1982), pp. 24, 39, 158.
Charles Clark, "The Measure of Maturity: the Pennsylvania Gazette, 1728-1765," William and Mary Quarterly, 46 (April 1989), 296.
Fourth Consulative Meeting of Journalist Organizations, International Principles of Professional Ethics in Journalism (Prague: International Organization of Journalists, 1983); Kaarle Nordenstreng, "From International Law to Professional Principles," Democratic Journalist, 32 (February 1985), 19-25. The International Principles were adopted in 1983 by journalists and journalist organizations from some 140 nations.
UNESCO, Statistical Yearbook (Paris: Unesco, 1988), p. 7.17; Toby Terrar, "Soviet Writings on Press Freedom: A Descriptive Bibliography," Studies in Soviet Thought, 28 (1984), 201-228, p. 212.
Toby Terrar, "UNESCO's NWIO and US Free Press Philosophy" International Review of Contemporary Law, 31, no. 2 (Brussels, 1984), 66-79; E. D. Dickinson, "The Defamation of Foreign Governments," American Journal of International Law, 22 (1928), 844-847; Betty Elder, "The Nature and History of the NWIO," National Lawyers Guild Practitioner, 40 (Fall 1984), 97-126; C. G. Fenwick, "Intervention by Way of Propaganda," American Journal of International Law, 35 (October 1941), 626-631; Peter Schroth, "Racial Discrimination: the US and International Conventions," Human Rights, 4 (Sept. 1975), 192-196 (Supreme Court upholds doctrine of group libel).
Marvin Olasky, Prodigal Press: The Anti-Christian Bias of the American News Media (Westchester, Ill: Crossways Books, 1988), p. 23.
Ibid., p. 138-139.
Ibid., p. 224.
Ibid., p. 228.
Olasky should probably look not to the religious ethic for the origin of commercial press philosophy but to those like Plato (428-348 BC), an aristocrat who felt laborers should not be educated to read, Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), who supported royalist and landlord tyranny against the popular English revolution of the 1640s, and Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). Bentham, "Introduction to the Principles and Morals of Legislation," (1789), Works, ed. John Bowring (New York: Russell and Russell, 1962), was a defender of aristocracy. In his view, since aristocracy had a majority of the wealth and a minority of popular support, press freedom should be in the hands of private (moneyed) and not government (popular) interests. There should be neither government publishing or government interference in private publishing. The function of the so-called "independent" press, synonymous with private ownership, was exposure of abuses of power by the aristocrats."
Bentham mocked the United States Bill of Rights when it was ratified. He attacked the American biblical covenant tradition and the ethic of being your brother's keeper because these notions, in his words, tended to inspire a spirit of rebellion among the people. Bentham substituted an individualistic view of the press (the greatest individual happiness for the greatest numbers) in place of the religious goal (the rational, harmonious union between personal and social rights and responsibilities).
Bentham's individualism masked his worship of money, inequality in property and the low standard of living of the working people. The reverse side of freedom for the aristocracy to dispose of property and the press was the necessity for most people to labor for the enrichment of and obey the will of the few. The press freedom of the majority was restricted and at the same time, there was a waste of material and human resources.
Schauer, Free Speech: A Philosophical Inquiry . . ., pp. 19-20.
Schauer, Ibid., pp. 20, 155, writes of the free market theory:
This is a consummate skeptical argument, and it is no surprise that its paradigmatic expression comes from Oliver Wendell Holmes, whose skepticism pervades all his writings. . . Casting government in the role of educator and enlightener is to a large extent inconsistent with recognition of a strong Free Press Principle, because the educative function, when taken to its greatest extremes requires the educator to promote good ideas and inhibit bad ones.
Nelson (ed.), Freedom of the Press. . ., p. 259.
Glenna R. Schroeder, "'We Must Look This Great Even in the Face': Northern Sermons on John Brown's Raid," Fides et Historia, 20 (January 1988), 30.