A DELICATE balance among war information (including combat journalism), press freedom and censorship, it turns out, counts among the ingredients in the Allied victory during World War II, according to a postwar review by no less than the American intelligence community. Byron “Price kept the Censorship Office separate from the Office of War Information (OWI), believing that combining censorship activities with the pseudo-propaganda releases of the OWI would subvert the aim of keeping the American public truthfully informed about the war.
He also beat off an attempt by the Military Intelligence Division of the War Department to enforce stronger censorship of information about the military.” [Secrets of Victory: The Office of Censorship and The American Press and Radio in World War II By Michael S. Sweeney. Chapel Hill & London: University of North Carolina Press, 2001. 274 pages. Reviewed by Robert J. Hanyok; https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol46no3/article10.html]
Thus, our first marker this May: a free press and V-E Day. By decision 48/432 of 20 December 1993, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 3 May as World Press Freedom Day: “By an independent press, we mean a press independent from governmental, political or economic control or from control of materials and infrastructure essential for the production and dissemination of newspapers, magazines and periodicals.” [The Windhoek Declaration for the Development of a Free, Independent and Pluralistic Press; https://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/201104/20110429ATT18422/20110429ATT18422EN.pdf]
‘On the 75th anniversary of V-E Day, our commemorations are muted; millions of Christ’s brethren brought low by the planetary crises; politicians are pretending to have solutions, bureaucrats clutching their red tape; administrative officers (even in state universities) still power-tripping.’
Censorship is fatal to the censor; free flowing data is indispensable to both decision-makers and ordinary citizens: “At a time when we are mired in worry and uncertainty because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, free information is essential to helping us face, understand, think about and overcome this crisis.” [Message from Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, 03 May 2020]
The fascists deprived themselves of this critical resource, later contributing to their defeat. “The Propaganda Ministry aimed further to control the content of news and editorial pages through directives distributed in daily conferences in Berlin and transmitted via the Nazi Party propaganda offices to regional or local papers. Detailed guidelines stated what stories could or could not be reported and how to report the news. Journalists or editors who failed to follow these instructions could be fired or, if believed to be acting with intent to harm Germany, sent to a concentration camp. Rather than suppressing news, the Nazi propaganda apparatus instead sought to tightly control its flow and interpretation and to deny access to alternative sources of news.” [The Press in the Third Reich, The Holocaust Encyclopedia]
In contrast, the United States even had a Commission on Freedom of the Press (chaired by Robert M. Hutchins, chancellor, University of Chicago), and the original United Nations bled for the Four Freedoms, thus, a hard-won Victory in Europe: “We have fought side by side in complete cooperation with our allies. Together we have met the enemy and he is ours. Nazism with all of its cruel, criminal, brutal, barbaric acts against civilization has been smashed. The once powerful German military machine has been annihilated. In this victorious hour we know that a dark shadow – a threat to our very existence – has been removed. We are devoutly thankful. We are humbly happy. This victory has been won by the greatest cooperative effort ever achieved by mankind; by highly inspired leadership; by the overwhelming power and magnificent spirit of our fighting forces; by sacrifice – sacrifice on the home front – and sacrifice on the fighting fronts. Those of us who are overseas feel very close to you today. We are with you in mind and spirit and hope. Wherever we may be, we are one nation, one people, dedicated to one cause. We are grateful to you all at home for your steadfastness in performing your daily tasks.” [Broadcast by Admiral H. R. Stark, U.S. Navy, For Occasion of “V-Day (Germany)”]
This is what we long for today, as death stalks Terrans on their very home-world and a 21st century version of the Axis of Evil maneuvers to exploit the Seven Seas, profiting from the miseries of God’s children.
More than seven decades ago, the struggle against selfishness and Hitlerism bore fruit: “Fascist Germany, forced to her knees by the Red Army and the troops of our Allies, has admitted defeat and has announced her unconditional surrender…On May 8, in Berlin, representatives of the German High Command, in the presence of representatives of the Supreme Command of the Allied troops and of the Supreme Command of the Soviet troops, signed the final act of surrender, which came into effect at 24 hours on May 8…the incalculable privation and suffering our people have endured during the war, our intense labours in the rear and at the front, laid at the altar of our motherland, have not been in vain…Our Great Patriotic War has terminated in our complete victory. The period of war in Europe has closed.” [J.V. Stalin, Victory Speech-Address to the People, May 9, 1945]
On the 75th anniversary of V-E Day, our commemorations are muted; millions of Christ’s brethren brought low by the planetary crises; politicians are pretending to have solutions, bureaucrats clutching their red tape; administrative officers (even in state universities) still power-tripping. As a Philippine Commonwealth official asked 75 years ago: “If we have not vanquished that contempt for the weaker and the lesser and the undefended, how then can we render it impotent for further evil? This is a question to be considered by all men.” [V-E Address, Delivered at the Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California, May 8, 1945]
In that same vein, Brigadier-General Carlos P. Romulo (Commissioner of the Philippines to the United States and Chairman of the Philippine Delegation To the United Nations Conference on International Organization), told the UN: “In all places where men perished in this war, the earth is stained with a blood that is not of your race nor mine but the sacramental blood of the common man, that nameless, voiceless, raceless, and deathless citizen for whom Christ died…The human sacrifices of Manila and Maidenek know that last peace that we shall share with them unless we pool humanity and our valuation of the rights of men. Without world solidarity, there can be no victory. We can achieve that solidarity when we have impressed an understanding of his brother’s rights on every human heart. This will be the true victory.” [https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/1945/05/08/address-of-brigadier-general-carlos-p-romulo-to-the-united-nations-conference-on-international-organization-may-8-1945/]
For our second marker this May, Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you): Clone Troopers led by Padmé Amidala and Ahsoka Tano foiled a Separatist plot to release Blue Shadow Virus on Naboo to infect the rest of the galaxy. Sounds familiar?