April 27, 2022

Ambassador Chas Freeman Discusses The Disinformation Wars

"It's worse than the McCarthy era".

Veteran Ambassador Chas Freeman discusses the astounding and unprecedented level of disinformation and propaganda produced today by our politicians and the media, especially as it relates to what he learned in his many years as a US diplomat.


"It's worse than the McCarthy era".

Veteran Ambassador Chas Freeman discusses the astounding and unprecedented level of disinformation and propaganda produced today by our politicians and the media, especially as it relates to what he learned in his many years as a US diplomat. 

Transcript

Rabbi Shapiro:

Well, I always thought that the trick to avoiding being a conformist is to ignore the concept of convention altogether.

Ambassador Freeman:

Well, it's not easy. These days you get mugged if you deviated in the slightest from whatever the orthodoxy is, and this war in Ukraine is the most intense information war humanity has ever seen. There are so many lies flying about, that it's totally impossible to perceive the truth.

Rabbi Shapiro:

Ambassador Freeman, you've saved me the trouble of creating a preview clip for this video. That was a great introduction that you just said.

Ambassador Freeman:

As you wish. Go ahead.

Rabbi Shapiro:

Great. Let me introduce you to our listeners. For those who are listening to this clip, you are hearing a conversation between me and one of our most illustrious guests, Ambassador Chas Freeman. Ambassador Freeman has such a long list of accomplishments, it would be impossible to list them all here. But some of them, I jotted down to make sure I get the primary ones.

Rabbi Shapiro:

Ambassador Freeman was assistant secretary of defense for the International Security Affairs in 1993 and 1994. Prior to that, he was the US ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1989 to 1992, where he dealt with the Persian Gulf War. He was the principal deputy secretary of state for African affairs, a position in which he played a role in the negotiation of the Cuban troop withdrawal from Angola, and the transition of Namibia from a de facto colony to an independent state.

Rabbi Shapiro:

He was President Nixon's principal interpreter during his 1972 visit to China, which led to the normalization of US-Chinese relations. He's educated in Yale and Harvard, the latter, where he received a doctorate of jurisprudence. And he is the author of several books on US foreign policy and diplomacy. Many of which I have read, the latest of which I highly recommend, it's called... I have it here. America's Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East. It was very gracious of you to come on our podcast today, Ambassador Freeman.

Ambassador Freeman:

Yaakov, I'm happy to be with you.

Rabbi Shapiro:

I'm glad to have you. So here's my question. How is somebody like me with all this propaganda going around, supposed to know the truth regarding important issues such as war, peace, nuclear threats and things like that. What would you suggest?

Ambassador Freeman:

If you have a television, turn it off.

Rabbi Shapiro:

Oh, I don't have one, and this is one of the reasons, great.

Ambassador Freeman:

I know you don't. I don't have one either. I have a TV screen on which I watch films. I select. I do not receive predigested information that has been mangled by corporate interests or ideological interests in one sort or another, to conform to some particular view of reality. But the answer to your question is that in effect, it's almost impossible, if not impossible, now to do that.

Ambassador Freeman:

We are surrounded by the information sewer of social media, in which expertise is divided, and every fool has an equal voice. We are subjected as you've suggested, to an unparalleled flow of self-interesting propaganda. The Ukraine war is the worst I've ever seen. I did live through the McCarthy era as a child. I do remember it. And later, of course, I worked on China, and that was the main focus of the insanity of the time.

Ambassador Freeman:

But I've never seen anything quite this bad, even after 9/11. I remember getting up and speaking to a large gathering of the Knights of Malta. I think it was the Episcopal version of the Catholic version, in New York. And being castigated afterwards for saying this is right after 9/11, that our mission in Afghanistan had to be very limited if it were to be successful. And that the FBI badly needed to be reorganized because it was insensitive to foreign realities and had no analytical capability.

Ambassador Freeman:

And some gentleman came up to me after the talk and said he wanted to make sure he got my name right to ensure that I never got a job in any administration.

Rabbi Shapiro:

Oh my.

Ambassador Freeman:

I replied to him, "If you'll give me your name, I'll do the same for you." But things have descended to a level where sensible thoughtful people who have been antidotes to some of the groupthink that afflicts us are dropping out. There's a wonderful book by Albert O. Hirschman called Exit, Voice, and Loyalty. I don't know if you've read it.

Rabbi Shapiro:

No.

Ambassador Freeman:

But what he does is he takes economic concepts and applies them to politics. And he says, basically the political system is affected by three different approaches to different views. There are those who react to bad behavior. Let's say they've always bought Chevrolets for their index family. And suddenly, Chevy's turning out lemons. And they think if they drop out, that's the exit, they just say, okay, I've had it with this manufacturer, and I'm going to buy Toyota.

Ambassador Freeman:

And then there are those who give voice. They write to GM and they say, you're building crummy cars. And if you don't shape up, I'm going to have to look elsewhere. Those are the people who give voice. And the great mass of the people are apathetic.

Ambassador Freeman:

They just stumble on the way they always did, and there's no penalty therefore for poor performance. Politics works this way. Apathy is the greatest source of stability in the political system. People who give voice are terribly important.

Ambassador Freeman:

Now we see many people have dropped out of the public debate. Others are in the process of giving voice and being expelled from the community. And what's left to the apathetic loyalists, but there are fewer and fewer of them. And Hirschman says, "When you get to a certain level, if it's a company, you go bankrupt. If it's a political system, you have a revolution."

Ambassador Freeman:

What strikes me at the moment in our country is, I don't care whether you're on the right, left, or center or what your view is. I meet no one who is not disgruntled and dissatisfied with the direction of events. And yet, democratic theory says that the expression of antagonistic views, debate if you will, is essential to find the truth.

Ambassador Freeman:

And we are seeing debate suffocated by political correctness, by narratives that are held with great righteousness by those who hold them, and defended with intolerance of any other view. I think this is a great menace to the country. And Ukraine has brought this to a peak, which I have never seen before.

Rabbi Shapiro:

I agree 100%, but I think there's something additional as well. Even if somebody wants to voice his opinion and wants to get involved, then he wants to get involved on the correct side, not politically correct. He really wants to do the right thing. There's no way for him to really get information that will tell him what the right side is.

Rabbi Shapiro:

There is so much propaganda on both sides. And depending upon what news he listens to and what he watches. And even if he watches both, that'll just totally confuse him. People are being bombarded with so much propaganda, and just lies and half-truths. It is impossible I think, for even a well-intended person to come out with anything close to reality.

Ambassador Freeman:

It's very, very difficult. It's made more difficult by the ways in which communication on public issues and other issues have changed. Communication is now managed by corporate oligopolies. That is Twitter and Facebook, and all these things. And they have several traits in common.

Ambassador Freeman:

Their business plan basically depends on discovering your biases, your prejudices, we all have them. And then connecting you to people with similar biases. So that you never hear a view that contradicts your own basic worldview. And this creates a whole series of incubators for conspiracy theories, and also for uncivil muttering between members of these biased groups. These are all our own people, so we can afford to be injudiciously abusive of people who don't agree with us.

Ambassador Freeman:

And then this spills out into the general communication realm, and you see a well-articulated, thoughtful view expressed, and then followed by nine intemperate, often vulgar, insulting diatribes against whoever offered that view.

Ambassador Freeman:

And so I think it's become, it's partly technology, partly the end of a competitive economic system of the sort we previously had in the United States. And finally the ultimate insult is really what the EU has just proposed to do, which is to empower these technology companies to eliminate what they call hate speech, improper opinions about various protected group LGBTQ or whatever.

Ambassador Freeman:

So essentially the government in Europe is doing legally officially, what has been done informally here, namely, empowering corporate structures whose interest is in making money by selling advertising, not in promoting the truth, to be the censors of public discussion. Can a society that regards honest discussion of long-term issues, the implications of trends in events as taboo, prosper? I doubt it. I think we are in trouble.

Rabbi Shapiro:

You mentioned how the communication in the media is in the hands of corporations that sell advertisements. That's a very significant piece of information that kind of just passes over everybody's heads. I always tell people to see if they understand their media. A shoe store sells shoes, a pizza store sells pizza.

Rabbi Shapiro:

What does a newspaper sell? Well, most people say newspaper sells news, but that's absolutely wrong. A newspaper sells advertisements. The news is just a way to attract readership so that the advertisements will be worth something. But newspapers are in the advertising business, and so are television talk shows. So are radio talk hosts. All of our media are in the business of selling advertisements. And therefore whatever is best for their advertisement business, that's the type of news they're going to convey. And that's the "truth" that they're going to portray. And that's a terrible thing.

Rabbi Shapiro:

What, Chas, would you rather have though? Let's talk about this. Would you rather have government-regulated media? Would you rather have back the fairness doctrine, and expanded not only for radio, but for everybody? How would you think to fix this problem?

Ambassador Freeman:

The problem as you described is I think nicely exemplified by the decision of the major television networks, probably 25 years ago, to cease to regard the evening news as a public service, and to treat it as a cost center in business terms. And so that it had to sustain a listenership for the purpose of advertising. It had to turn a profit.

Ambassador Freeman:

That devalued the pursuit of truth in favor of greed, this is not a new human phenomenon. But we have seen it at least in my lifetime and the lifetime of most who are watching, I'm sure. So this is an issue. What is the answer to it? The only answer to it is a moral answer. Whether you have government-controlled media or sponsored media, let's say the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, or you have private only funded media. And there's an interesting history here, if you don't mind, I'll just mention it briefly.

Ambassador Freeman:

When radio came in, British Marconi was the primary vehicle for this, and there was grave concern in the United States that Marconi would take over our media. The first radio station in the United States to broadcast was in Pittsburgh. And they had to find a way to support themselves financially. But at the same time, the British were wrestling with the same question, how do we sustain radio?

Ambassador Freeman:

They came up with a proposal which was public finance of radio, but independent direction of radio. In other words, they taxed radio sets and they still do to this day I think, and this supports the BBC. Here, we went for advertising, huge results flow from this.

Ambassador Freeman:

Advertising began as a commercial matter. It soon became political advertising. When the television age arrived, Adlai Stevenson and Dwight Eisenhower debated the first time on television. Television became the main medium of communication between political leaders, politicians, and the masses. And it's very expensive.

Ambassador Freeman:

And eventually, we got to a point where we are today, in which people running for office are re-manufactured by spin doctors. What you see is not what there is, what you see is an image that has been carefully contrived, and is presented to you in infomercials or political advertising, which costs a lot of money. And so every member of Congress, every member of a significant legislative body, every executive arrives in office with his or her handout for donations to support communication via the media.

Ambassador Freeman:

There's an obvious answer to this, which is to fund the media for political purposes, not to regulate it, but to allow people to get on it and present themselves as they are. The parliamentary systems don't have quite the same problem that we do, because in parliamentary systems, leaders are selected by their peers. People who worked with them, who know them face to face.

Ambassador Freeman:

In our case, we select leaders in response to the image that their spin doctors produce. And we have really got some fairly loony people in office as a result of this. But I go back to the thesis that social cohesion, political performance, integrity, ultimately depend on some moral standard. And here I will revert to my experience in Saudi Arabia.

Ambassador Freeman:

I got an instruction as ambassador to open a dialogue on human rights with the Wahhabi establishment in Saudi Arabia. As you know, Saudi Arabia professes a very austere and puritanical version of Islam that is notoriously intolerant of other versions of Islam, and quite hostile to Christianity, less so interestingly to Judaism.

Ambassador Freeman:

So I had a couple of... They don't have clerics of course as Judaism does. They have learned men who are leaders in the community. I had a couple of these people over for lunch and we had a discussion of having a human rights dialogue.

Ambassador Freeman:

And I was really struck by the answer one of them gave to me when I said, "Well, would you be willing to conduct such a dialogue with the United States?" And he said, "No. And the reason I won't," he said is, "You have forgotten the religious and moral roots of your values."

Ambassador Freeman:

He said, "You profess freedom of speech as a right. And you forget that this right along with the equality of people and attention to due process, is rooted in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. And you say these are absolute rights, but your founding fathers, when they enacted the bill of rights, understood that there would be moral restraints on individual behavior. Running down the street naked, giving everyone the finger is not an expression of any valuable protected speech in their view.

Ambassador Freeman:

They didn't think this would happen because they believed that the social system would inculcate sufficient levels of self-restraint and morality to ensure that free speech was devoted to serious topics and not used to offend people as a demonstration of individual power." So I thought this was a really interesting response. Actually, I agree with it. Legal rights must rest ultimately on moral precepts. And if they don't, they are easily abused.

Rabbi Shapiro:

Now that they don't. And we live in a society that for better or worse, and we can agree it's for worse, ignores this principle. What do we do now?

Ambassador Freeman:

If I knew the answer to that, Yaakov, I would be a very different person than I am.

Rabbi Shapiro:

Can I throw out an idea?

Ambassador Freeman:

Please.

Rabbi Shapiro:

I would attach a fiduciary responsibility to people who convey the news, and the facts, and things that are so important to society. That they're on the same level that we do to doctors and even lawyers. A president with his finger on the nuclear button, or even any politician with power to control or influence public discourse, which it's relevance to war and peace and all sorts of important things.

Rabbi Shapiro:

I think that they have as much a fiduciary responsibility as a banker or a lawyer does, and they should be held responsible. That yes, they can have an opinion about anything, but when we're talking about conveying facts and news, it should be with the same level of fiduciary responsibility that a doctor has when explaining the options to a patient. When I was a kid, I remember that doctors were not allowed. Doctors and lawyers were not allowed to advertise.

Ambassador Freeman:

Correct.

Rabbi Shapiro:

Cigarettes were allowed to advertise. Then they switched to cigarettes on TV at least, they're not allowed to advertise. They took that away. But doctors and lawyers now can. I was really in favor of that law. I like that law that doctors and lawyers cannot advertise because choosing your doctor is too important a decision to tie it to promotions or advertising shtick.

Rabbi Shapiro:

And I think that we should have the same laws regarding politicians. We should regulate the political influence on people. And by giving them a fiduciary responsibility, no different than doctors, lawyers, or bankers, what do you think?

Ambassador Freeman:

I think you're right. But this raises the question, who is custodian of the custodians? Who is the guardian of the guardians? And the answer to the question must be again, I think, a set of moral precepts enforced by a community. If a president is a sociopath, and we have seen a few of those. Then and by definition, and so far, it's always he. And will be amoral, self-interesting and not a fiduciary in the sense that you correctly suggest that he should be. So the question is...

Ambassador Freeman:

By the way, I totally agree with you about the advertising by lawyers and doctors. And I just had a very annoying example of this. I have a minor dispute with the DC tax people, in which my accountant says it is entirely their fault and will be fixed. But they grind along in their inept, automatic manner.

Ambassador Freeman:

So I now have a lien they put on me. The lien happened on one day. The next day, I got 25 letters from different law firms all over the country saying that they could settle this for about 1/10th of what DC government wants. So I thought, "Oh my God, this is really beyond the pale."

Ambassador Freeman:

I went to law school as you mentioned. I worked in a law firm in Boston. I liked it because it had linoleum on the floors and etchings on the walls. And when I asked the partners why they did this, they said, "This is New England, and people don't want the lawyers to have a lot of overhead. They want them to be focused on the client, not on making money." But of course that's all gone, and the same law firm now has plush carpets and fancy paintings, and whatnot.

Ambassador Freeman:

And I think doctors also have become a sort of guild where incomes are pursued with great abandon. And sometimes the patients are abandoned in that cause. But yes, politicians should be held to some kind of standard of moral integrity. Fiduciary is the right word. Now, they are entrusted by us with our interests. They should be responsible for the custody of those interests.

Ambassador Freeman:

But how do you enforce that? You see, impeachment is the remedy provided in the constitution. But you now see with the... I'm sorry to say the Republican Party being more Leninist than the communist party. You now see the impossibility of any kind of impeachment of the Republican president. And I doubt that the Democrats would prove any better if a Democratic president were impeached. So the remedy has been removed, and we are left with a level of venality and self-serving disregard of the public interest on the part of our politicians, that is quite scandalous.

Rabbi Shapiro:

I would say treat them like doctors and lawyers, sue them. Consider them even criminally responsible after a certain point. They have a simple fiduciary responsibility, a legal responsibility, given the trust that's put in them by the public. They're very simple. When-

Ambassador Freeman:

If you had, as the effort to provide a due process for evaluating misbehavior by legislators, has involved the establishment of codes of ethics and committees, which we are supposed to enforce those codes of ethics. But these two have been corrupt. But it doesn't mean that the mechanism itself is wrong. It means that we have elected a class of people who are essentially unscrupulous and not bound by any moral code that you or I would recognize.

Rabbi Shapiro:

Right. The key phrase there being, we have elected, that's the problem. I mean, people can choose their doctors and their lawyers and their bankers, but choosing somebody isn't enough where fiduciary responsibility is involved. The FDA regulates things. And I think we should have some kind of regulatory organization to... It's better than nothing. FDA isn't perfect obviously, they have their flaws. But at least people could sleep better at night knowing that when they eat food, it's regulated by some organization.

Rabbi Shapiro:

And I think that the same type of regulation should apply to... I mean, the level of danger that a president or a politician could put the people in, it certainly equals and exceeds the level of danger that a lawyer, a banker, and sometimes even a doctor or a food manufacturer can put people in.

Ambassador Freeman:

It's vastly greater in fact.

Rabbi Shapiro:

Vastly greater.

Ambassador Freeman:

The president of the United States has the capacity to destroy the human species.

Rabbi Shapiro:

There you go.

Ambassador Freeman:

With nuclear weapons. So your point is absolutely correct. Now, the only answer that I can provide to your moral insistence on rectitude is that, your example of the FDA is very much in point. Upton Sinclair and others documented the immense abuses of the food chain, the rats parts and other things in the food that we were being sold in our stores. And that led to the creation of the FDA.

Ambassador Freeman:

Now, perhaps the abominable abuse of standards that we now see in politics will in time lead to a similar reform. But, I go back to Exit, Voice, and Loyalty. There's an awful lot of people out there who are just completely apathetic. And I'd go beyond that. There's actually in some of the public, a kind of malignant, or a gleeful perhaps, enjoyment of the cynicism of our politicians.

Ambassador Freeman:

These are smart guys who are cheating everybody, look how wonderfully they're cheating them. I mean, this is P. T. Barnum's insight that, "You never should underestimate the stupidity of the populace." So we come back to, I think you always come back to the quality of society, which means education. And it means moral education.

Ambassador Freeman:

Your own tradition in Judaism, as I understand it, emphasizes two things. Scholarship and ethical reasoning on the one hand, and second, the pursuit of justice on the other. I think this is the distinguishing mark of your religion, and it's why I respect it. Now, I don't think you would argue that every adherent of Judaism exemplifies these two qualities, and you have a mechanism in your own community for rendering a degree of judgment on people I believe, that's good.

Rabbi Shapiro:

Right. So the mechanism that we have for enforcing whatever needs to be enforced is minimal and limited to social factors because we live in a United States of America, which has its own legal system. And we do rely on the American legal system, such as the police and things like that to enforce whatever they need to enforce, right?

Rabbi Shapiro:

The fire department, the fire codes, we can't enforce any of these things. And even if we wanted to, which I personally don't. But even if we wanted to, we wouldn't have the resources or manpower to be able to do it.

Rabbi Shapiro:

I can't think of any logical reason why we should legally enforce or regulate politicians any less than we do lawyers or bankers. As imperfect as regulation is, I see an inconsistency here. And the only reason I could think of, that our system is the way it is because the politicians are the ones that decide who get regulated.

Ambassador Freeman:

Well, exactly. This is the, who guards the guardians business.

Rabbi Shapiro:

Right. And one of the, I would say the most important character trait in Judaism though, is the desire for truth. A bias is the worst thing in the world. And as you know, we don't have televisions. We Orthodox Jews, we... I don't have a television. The worst thing, my nemesis is editorials, and political opinion shows and things like that.

Rabbi Shapiro:

I tell my congregants and anybody who has any interest in listening to what I say, that they should stay far away from all those talking heads. Get facts from the most accurate objective, unbiased sources possible, and save the entertainment for, go to the circus, if you want entertainment,

Rabbi Shapiro:

These opinions, it's so easy for a person to absorb somebody else's opinions, and people are so easily affected by them, both subliminally and just straight up. And that's before you get to the fake news that's out there. And as you said so correctly, that these news outlets are in the business of making money and they play on people's biases. And that determines what people are going to listen to.

Rabbi Shapiro:

And there's a whole vicious cycle of people being trained to be narrow-minded, and dumb and ignorant. And worse yet, not only narrow-minded, dumb, and ignorant, but narrow-minded, dumb and ignorant, and made to believe that they're educated and knowledgeable in the topics. That's the big problem.

Rabbi Shapiro:

An uneducated person who knows he's uneducated is what we call a [inaudible 00:34:53], that's a half of a problem. But an uneducated person that thinks he knows what he's talking about, he's dangerous, stay away from such people. And that's what our society is being made into.

Ambassador Freeman:

There is a confusion between fame, which is justified prominence and notoriety, which is morally neutral, or even amoral celebrity. And I agree with you, we have a problem. One of the things I actually admire the most about the Jewish tradition is the prophetic element, which is the person who stands up and says the truth as he or she perceives it, regardless of the peer group pressure to conform to some other view.

Ambassador Freeman:

I've known many people over the years, disproportionate number of them, actually Jewish, who embody this idea. And I rehear it. And I fear that we are as in the Japanese and Chinese phrase, seeing, "The nail that sticks out getting hammered down." We're not tolerant of idiosyncratic opinion or dissent. In fact, political correctness in many, many dimensions is now the dominant form of oppression in the United States.

Ambassador Freeman:

It is not the government so much that is extinguishing free speech, but we ourselves. And this all goes back I think, to the comforting conglomeration of like-minded people that the social media corporations arrange.

Rabbi Shapiro:

Right. And since it's not the government that's suppressing free speech, but it's the people's free speech that's doing it. That overrides any legal safeguards to protect free speech.

Ambassador Freeman:

Which is why people need to read John Stuart Mill. And to recall that the theory of democracy is that antagonistic expressions of opinion are essential to find the truth.

Rabbi Shapiro:

Right. In the Jewish tradition, before one expresses his opinion, we need to be sure of what we're saying. If a personאם ברור לך כאחותך תאמר. Loosely translated, it means, don't say anything unless you know what you're talking about, okay?

Rabbi Shapiro:

You're entitled to your opinion, but before you go around preaching something, make sure you really know what you're talking about. Get educated, get knowledgeable. Chas, you mentioned education, I would also change the educational matrix here. I would teach critical thinking skills, which is not taught.

Rabbi Shapiro:

When I was a kid, the teachers... And my children also, when they went to school, the teachers would always ask them their opinion about things. I remember I complained to the teacher in PTA when they made a mock election, it was the first time President Clinton was elected. And they asked these kids in elementary school, fifth grade, sixth grade, who would you vote for, and why?

Rabbi Shapiro:

Now, not a single one of these kids knew anything about the issues. The teachers taught that they were training these kids to express opinions and be involved in the democratic process, but really what you're teaching these kids is to be involved in the democratic process without knowing anything about what you're talking about. It's a terrible thing.

Rabbi Shapiro:

If I was a teacher, I would tell kids, any kid that expresses an opinion about what president they want, I would grill them why, what do you know about this? Maybe first get an education and become knowledgeable about what you're talking about before you make a decision even to vote. Nowadays, the requirement to think has been removed from society.

Ambassador Freeman:

I remember a very embarrassing moment in law school when I was asked to defend a proposition, and I said, "It's in the constitution." And the professor said, "Where, what does it say?"

Rabbi Shapiro:

Good for him.

Ambassador Freeman:

I didn't know, then I learned something from that. I grew up in the Bahamas and there's a Bahamian expression, "Shut mouth, catch no fly."

Rabbi Shapiro:

Very good.

Ambassador Freeman:

Which [crosstalk 00:39:30] basically is the same notion. And I don't know what the Jewish tradition version of what both Socrates and the great Chinese military thinker Sun Tzu said, "Know thyself and know the other." If you want to compete, you must, in Chinese, [foreign language 00:39:54]. You must know yourself, if you must know your competitor. I don't think at the moment, we very much understand either ourselves or our international competitors. And I think this is not a recipe for success.

Rabbi Shapiro:

דע את עצמך - Knowing yourself, is a very, very important thing in Judaism. It's almost impossible to do anything without that, especially now that everybody's telling you who you are and what you are, and what you want to be. Even if a person wants to know himself, he looks to others to get that information.

Rabbi Shapiro:

It's like a little kid. You have a little kid just walking along the floor, a little baby, and he slips and bangs his head. There's a little moment there that he looks at all the adults in the room to decide whether he should start crying or not. And if the adults go, oh, and they get scared, the kid starts crying because he gets the message that something scary happens to him. But if the adults start laughing, oh, how cute, you just smacked your head on the floor. The kid starts laughing.

Rabbi Shapiro:

And our society has a level of intellectual maturity of that kid. Before a person expresses an opinion, they look to others, and before a person has the self-expression, they look to others and say, okay, what am I, who am I? What does my political party say? I don't belong to any political party as a matter of policy, because I don't like my mind being influenced, or certainly not controlled by anything outside.

Rabbi Shapiro:

I'd like to summon the privacy of my own brain. I'd like the freedom to do and think as I want, that's part of not having a television, not listening to... Not reading editorials, unless I know everything. You know what? It's like a jury. Before a jury makes a decision, they sequester them, and they limit their exposure to the case, to the controlled environment of the court room.

Rabbi Shapiro:

And after you get all the facts, now you can express an opinion. And afterwards, you're free to go to the press and read any newspaper articles you want. But first, you got to know the facts, and that's the way all human beings should work in all areas of their lives. It's more important than being entertained by newspaper articles and TV shows.

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Chas Freeman Profile Photo

Chas Freeman

Ambassador Chas Freeman is a career diplomat (retired) who was Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs from 1993-94, earning the highest public service awards of the Department of Defense for his roles in designing a NATO-centered post-Cold War European security system and in reestablishing defense and military relations with China. He served as U. S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm). He was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during the historic U.S. mediation of Namibian independence from South Africa and Cuban troop withdrawal from Angola.
Ambassador Freeman worked as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires in the American embassies at both Bangkok (1984-1986) and Beijing (1981-1984). He was Director for Chinese Affairs at the U.S. Department of State from 1979-1981. He was the principal American interpreter during the late President Nixon’s path-breaking visit to China in 1972. In addition to his Middle Eastern, African, East Asian and European diplomatic experience, he had a tour of duty in India.