Indiana Policy Review Guilty of Scuttling Islandic Summit

August 16, 2019

THE HEADLINE is an exaggeration for effect, as modern journalists now define lying. The government, you see, is deciding whether to “red flag” us for one thing or another, and, most ominously, what the criteria for such a flagging should be. In the meantime, we have our own red flags, one warning of a media run amok and another of a government gone bad.

First, the red flag of a media run amok . . .

The man at the next desk has slapped in front of me in a gesture of perverse triumph a clipping from the Iceland Review. It is in regard to Vice President Mike Pence’s upcoming diplomatic mission to Reykjavík, a mission involving serious military negotiations and a mission in which The Indiana Policy Review apparently figures prominently:

“’Samtökin 78 [the Islandic LGBTQ organization] has taken a clear stance against the official visit. According to its president, Þorbjörg Þorvaldsdóttir, Pence has more or less spent his whole political career working against queer rights . . . publishing an article as editor of Indiana Policy Review encouraging businesses to not hire LGBTQ people.”

I know something about the “article,” an opinion piece, the one on which we are told the future of Arctic peace and security depends. I wrote it 26 years ago.

Pence, although the first president of our foundation, was never editor of its quarterly journal, had nothing to do with the essay at issue, and most emphatically does not to my knowledge discourage the employment of LGBTQ people, whatever any of that has to do with military negotiations in Iceland.

My essay was in reaction to a powerful local newspaper editor, a fellow living with a same-sex partner, who had imposed what some considered a draconian ethics policy on his newsroom. The policy would have required, for example, an outdoors columnist to disclose whether the Jeep he mentions driving on his adventures was furnished at a discount. The essay asked the editor whether the same standard of ethics and disclosure should be required of editorials addressing LGBTQ issues.

The point was one of hypocrisy and not sexual preference, a point made impossible in today’s moral climate and one that I would not attempt to make again.

Nonetheless, the mischaracterization has been repeated perhaps a hundred times since Mike Pence was dragged onto the national stage three years ago, and now it apparently has gone global. I have never debunked it, partly for lack of time and partly because any fair reading shows the characterization to be prima facia false.

Nor, interestingly, has anyone ever called to ask me about the essay, apparently on file at the Indianapolis Public Library, either as to whether Pence had anything to do with it or its context. I strongly suspect that the only Pence critic who has actually read the essay (or at least part of it) was the unknown journalist who first saw its potential for slander.

Well, the narrative is the thing, and that is that. If it besmirches a U.S. vice president and derails a $56-million investment at the Keflavik airport to accommodate 24 fighter jets needed to hold Russia in check, then so be it. That’s the way the media rolls these days.

Onto another red flag . . .

As a young journalist I was taught that the test of a free society was a simple one. If you see your neighbor being dragged away by the police, note whether your reaction is: a) “Well, they finally caught up with the bastard;” or b) “I have no idea what that kind, thoughtful man could have done.” If it is (b), you’re not living in a free society.

That was on our mind when we read several years ago that an old friend, Dinesh D’Souza, would be sent to federal prison. The felony charge was of using a “straw donor” to make a campaign contribution (why do we have campaign finance laws at all?) It was a crime usually prosecuted only as a misdemeanor and a crime for which D’Souza was pardoned last year by President Donald Trump.

Everybody knows someone in their life who is a certifiably wonderful person, someone who encourages and clarifies all they touch. Dinesh helped organize the Indiana Policy Review Foundation three decades ago (coming up with our motto, “A Future Than Works”). He was for us that person.

Whether you accept our judgment on that, please know that it was our deep conviction on hearing of Dinesh being, in effect, drug off by the police that it could happen to any of us, that our system of justice was in the hands of tyrants, that it had gone bad.

A few days ago, Dinesh, of a trusting rather than paranoid or conspiratorially nature, confided that during his prison time he was in fear of his life — not from his fellow inmates, who were incarcerated for murder and such, but from a system that he had reason to believe would cause his death “by suicide” or invent charges of drug or pornography possession or the like.

So, are you OK with meritorious, patriotic friends being put in fear of their lives on a political whim? You are if you know what’s good for you. — tcl


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