US broadcast journalist, Edward Murrow, spoke these words in the 1950s, protesting against the witchhunt of communists, alleged communists, and of anyone thought to evince anything resembling sympathy or support for ideas associated with communism by Senator Joseph McCarthy, inspired by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings of the 1940s.
McCarthy and his team of witch hunters were able to sow fear, paranoia, and a rigid adherence not to democracy or free speech, but to intolerance of dissent and the questioning of the received truths that sustained America's engagement with the rest of the world.
In 2017 we are witnessing the rebirth of McCarthyism across the West in response to Russia's recovery from the demise of the Soviet Union and the attempt to turn the country into a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington via the imposition of free market economic shock treatment thereafter. In the process critical thinking and reason has been sacrificed on the altar of Pavlovian conditioning and unreason, resulting in the embrace of hysterical Russophobic nostrums by a liberal political and media class for whom Russia can only ever exist as a vanquished foe or one that needs to be vanquished.
When a think-tank with the impertinence of naming itself "European Values" feels emboldened to compile and publish a "hit list" of over 2000 contributors to RT, as it did recently, made up of politicians, former diplomats, journalists, and academics from across the West, the foundations of Western liberal democracy start to crack. And when the US Congress passes a bill to force RT America to register as a "foreign agent," then we are talking war being waged not against Russian media per say, but the thousands of US citizens who work for Russian media and their right to ply their trade in the land of the free.
There is nothing that RT or Sputnik International does that other state-funded broadcasters — the BBC, Voice of America, and France24 et al. — are not doing when it comes to their operations overseas. All state-funded media engage in cultural outreach, and each proffers an analysis of events via the prism of their own cultural, ideological and national worldview.
But let us not be naive. It would be a mistake to divorce the ongoing, ever-intensifying campaign to drive RT and Sputnik out of existence in the West from the wider geopolitical struggle over the Washington-led unipolar status quo and the multipolar alternative demanded by Moscow's recovery and re-emergence as a global power, along with Beijing. In this regard, in the context of this geopolitical struggle, Russian media in the West is seen as low hanging fruit, an easy target by which to render Russia a bloody nose.
Does anyone really believe for a moment that if Russia had or did accept its place as a neo-satellite of Washington that this campaign against RT and Sputnik would be taking place? If both media channels were echo chambers of the Washington Consensus you can best believe they would be allowed to operate freely and without molestation, without their employees or contributors being traduced as "Kremlin propagandists" or de facto "Russian agents."
Speaking for myself for a moment, the views I express on Russian media are the same as those I express when they appear anywhere else, including the BBC. I am not told what to write, say or think by Moscow, and nor would I accept for a moment if any attempt was made to tell me what to write, say or think. Here I know that I speak for the many British and US citizens I know personally who also work at, with or for RT and Sputnik.
The entire thing is a sham — a malicious and ideologically driven attempt to police the portals of news dissemination and analysis to the point where rigid acceptance and obeisance to the aforementioned Washington Consensus, one responsible for upending the lives of millions at home and abroad over the years, is total.
There is a simple rule of thumb that will never let you down. It dictates that those who tell you who your enemy is are usually your enemy. It begs the question of whether Russophobia has become the acceptable form of racism among a liberal class whose hypocrisy is only exceeded by their mendacity?
The only conspiracy underway when it comes to RT and Sputnik is one designed to drive them out of operation in the West, thus allowing those ‘sons of liberty' within the liberal class to gloat in a victory against the right to have their worldview questioned or contested.
If and when the day arrives that they do succeed it will be a hollow victory, pregnant with a dangerous precedent that it would be incredibly unwise to take lightly.
"Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.
Check out John's Sputnik radio show, Hard Facts.