When I was a kid, we would go to Guatemala to visit family. During that time, various and sundry military dictatorships wrangled for power, and we witnessed the Army searching people, bombing homes. Family members were murdered.
The press was censored at best, controlled at worst. Journalists risked their lives to report the truth. Journalists were frequently tortured and killed. Between 1954 and 1996, over 150,000 Guatemalan citizens died or disappeared. This is a well-documented piece of world history.
Even as a child, I had an intensely personal understanding of what freedom of the press means, and how precious it is. Attacks on journalists and the media are so obviously wrong, so clearly aligned with tyranny, that I find it difficult to process any American believing otherwise.
And yet, here we are, in the era of Trump, whose ongoing attacks on our journalists threaten the foundation of democracy. For real. I saw it, learned it, lived it, as a five-year-old.
Thank you to the 350 news organizations who are standing up to Trump’s brand of brain control.
Thank you to our hometown newspaper, the Boston Globe, who are leading voices declaring this most American truth: Journalists are not the enemy.
Let’s hear our own American heroes say what sadly, needs to be repeated, and revered:
“Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.” Thomas Jefferson
“The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom in a state: it ought not, therefore, to be restrained in this commonwealth.” John Adams
“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” Benjamin Franklin
“Freedom of conscience, of education, of speech, of assembly are among the very fundamentals of democracy and all of them would be nullified should freedom of the press ever be successfully challenged.” FDR
“Absolute freedom of the press to discuss public questions is a foundation stone of American liberty.” Herbert Hoover
“We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values.” John F. Kennedy
“Those who suppress freedom always do so in the name of law and order.” John Lindsay
“Wherever despotism abounds, the sources of public information are the first to be brought under its control. Where ever the cause of liberty is making its way, one of its highest accomplishments is the guarantee of the freedom of the press.” Calvin Coolidge
“If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter.” George Washington
Lest anyone think that this lifestyle-blogging physician is writing off-topic, let’s remember that without freedom of the press, there is no blogging.