“Clearly there is a double standard in the West when it comes to Free Speech,” Edward Corrigan from Ontario said in an interview with Tasnim.
“The mainstream media have an obvious interest in supporting aggressive American foreign policy and rarely criticize American involvement in foreign wars. There is an amazing amount of self-censorship. If a journalist or editor steps out of line they are usually fired. American corporations make a tremendous amount of money from these military actions and areas of conflict,” he added.
Edward C. Corrigan is certified as a specialist by the Law Society of Ontario, Canada in Citizenship, Immigration and Immigration and Refugee Law. He is also an analyst and commentator for a number of media outlets around the world.
The following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: Some Western powers which call themselves defenders of freedom of speech and interfere in the internal affairs of independent countries under this pretext have acted differently when it comes to their own countries. In the latest instance, the US voiced its support for violent protests in various sovereign states around the world ranging from Iran, Iraq, and Venezuela to China’s Hong Kong. However, many critics slam the lack of free expression in the US, itself. What do you think?
Corrigan: Clearly there is a double standard in the West when it comes to Free Speech. In the United States and many other Western countries, the press and other forms of media are owned by private or corporate entities. In the United States, 6 corporations own 90% of the media. Many of these media companies are in turn owned by corporations that are heavily involved in the manufacture of weapons. The mainstream media have an obvious interest in supporting aggressive American foreign policy and rarely criticize American involvement in foreign wars. There is an amazing amount of self-censorship. If a journalist or editor steps out of line they are usually fired. American corporations make a tremendous amount of money from these military actions and areas of conflict.
American President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1952-1960) warned the American public about the dangers of what he called the "Military-Industrial Complex." His worst fears have been realized and the complacent "corporate media" is largely silent on this subject. The corporate media are partners in this project with the corporations that manufacture arms. Another good example is that criticizing Islam is protected under the guise of "free speech" but criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic and racist and must be censored no matter what Israel does to the Palestinians.
Tasnim: If an academic association in the US criticizes Washington’s Israeli policy, it will lose its federal funding. That is the message the Department of Education recently sent with its threat to withdraw federal support for the Consortium for Middle East Studies, operated jointly by Duke University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, if it does not alter the content of its programming, according to a recent report published by the Guardian. How do assess academic freedom in the US?
Corrigan: There are many efforts by politicians and bureaucrats to control the flow of information and to control and manage the public. Criticism of American foreign policy is tolerated so long as no one is getting access to it or paying attention. Once it starts having an impact, the State, like-minded Think Tanks and privately or corporately funded organizations will attack and try to discredit or destroy the individual or organization that is stepping out of line. The American government and even state and local governments have attacked individuals, organizations, universities and colleges and threatened to cut their funding if they criticized Israel or strongly attacked American government policy or actions.
Many professors have lost their teaching positions and even if they have tenure that should protect them from such pressure and intimidation they are removed from their positions. State and local governments have even tried to force their employees and contract workers to sign a pledge they will not boycott Israel and will not support the Boycott Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement. Free speech is a constitutionally protected right that prohibits US governments from suppressing free speech. Many individuals have fought back against these attacks on free speech and if they have the resources and the stamina to defend themselves, they can win through the court system. However, many academics, journalists and politicians see what happens to those who challenge the prevailing orthodoxy and are intimidated into being silent. Thankfully there are some academics who speak out and feel somewhat protected by tenure and the concept of academic freedom. However, it is hard to be an independent academic, journalist or politician in the United State due to the well-organized pressure and smear campaigns directed against those that challenge the prevailing narrative. However, those that control the purse strings have tremendous power to control the flow of information in the United States.
Tasnim: The French government’s crackdown on yellow vest demonstrators is another example that refutes the world power’s claim to be a defender of freedom of speech. The protests began a year ago over high fuel prices but evolved into a broader social movement over income inequality and President Emmanuel Macron's leadership. How do you assess the crackdown and the free expression situation in the Western European country?
Corrigan: What is going on with the "Yellow Vest" protests in France and other European countries to protest the austerity measures that are dismantling the social service network which penalizes the poor and even Middle Classes is an excellent example of a double standard. These attacks on the majority of the population’s social benefits are also tied to tax cuts for the wealthy. The North American corporate press is largely silent on these yearlong weekly protests preferring to focus on protest in countries out of favor with the US Administration, like Venezuela, Iran, Hong Kong and other protests that portray America's adversaries in a bad light. Most journalists never discuss the root causes of problems of friendly nations and even provide false information about the problems of America's adversaries to portray them in a bad way. It is rare that American boycotts or policies are criticized. Boycotts of our friend and ally Israel are attacked and even declared illegal. This is another example of a double standard.