Speech, Press, Academic Freedoms Threatened in West: American Expert

Speech, Press, Academic Freedoms Threatened in West: American Expert

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – An American political expert described the US and other Western powers as “fantasy democracies” and said speech, press, and academic freedoms are threatened in these countries.

“In the US and elsewhere in the West, speech, press, and academic freedoms are threatened,” Chicago-based Stephen Lendman told Tasnim in an interview.

“The US and other Western countries are fantasy democracies,” he said, adding, “They disdain democratic values, the rule of law, human and civil rights they pretend to support.”

Stephen Lendman is a writer, syndicated columnist, activist, News TV personality, and radio show host. He currently writes for MoneyNewsNow.com and VeteransToday.com and hosts, since 2007, a progressive radio show at The Progressive Radio News Hour on The Progressive Radio Network.

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?

Lendman: The US and other Western countries are fantasy democracies. They disdain democratic values, the rule of law, human and civil rights they pretend to support. So-called coalitions of the willing cobbled together by the US are all about waging endless wars of aggression on nonbelligerent states threatening no one. Their aim is transforming these nations into US vassal states, their resources plundered, their people exploited. All of the above comprise what the scourge of “Western civilization” is all about. In the US and elsewhere in the West, speech, press, and academic freedoms are threatened. Whistleblower Chelsea Manning remains in prison for invoking her constitutional right to remain silent — refusing to testify against Julian Assange during a rigged grand jury hearing. Assange is imprisoned in London ahead of extraditing him to the US for the “crime” of journalism the way it should be, for truth-telling about vital issues, what establishment media in the US and West suppress. Freedom in the US and other Western countries are eroding toward disappearing altogether on the phony pretext of protecting national security. Elections, when held in these countries, are farcical. Dirty business, as usual, wins every time, especially in the US — a one-party state with two extremist right wings. Targeted nations like Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and others are attacked or assaulted with economic terrorism for not selling their souls to the US.

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?

Lendman: The vast majority of so-called think tanks and academic associations in the US support its imperial, neoliberal agenda. Indeed they’d get no federal funding otherwise. More ominously, they’d be subjected to great pressure, even threats, to support policies free societies abhor.

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?

Lendman: Yellow vest protests in France and others like them in Chile, Peru, Colombia and elsewhere are all about opposition to neoliberal harshness. The system exploits ordinary people so privileged ones can benefit. In the US, the greatest wealth disparity exists since the late 19th/early 20th-century robber baron age. Among developed countries, the US, UK, and Israel are the most unequal — their ruling regimes serving monied interests exclusively. The same goes for France, Germany, and other Western states. The country I grew up in during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s no longer exists. Growing police state tyranny and extreme inequality replaced it. Yellow vest protesters have been on the streets for over a year. Their activism is vitally needed throughout the West — especially in the US, but it’s absent here because the population is the most over-entertained and uninformed in the world. If elections changed anything here they’d be banned. The only solution is sustained grassroots activism in the streets for peace, equity, and justice. In the 60s and 70s, it was instrumental in ending the Vietnam War. The same thing is more badly needed today.