Tuesday, September 14, 2010


NYTimes has the scoop on a celebrated civil rights photographer who, it turns out, was an FBI informant.

When I was in the Czech republic, there was a much more sustained and complex conversation around this topic, which was actually blown open when it turned out that Milan Kundera was allegedly a communist informant. Many, including the former President Vaclav Havel were of the opinion that it was all water under the bridge; others, including my (bitter) professor Jan Havel (who co-founded the Civic Forum) felt that the truth had to come out.

There's a pretty vast difference between the Czech Republic, which was pretty brutal in its handling of dissidents, and the United States, who monitored dissidents but (on the Federal level) didn't seem to act much. At the same time, since the McCarthy era, there has been negative association with helping the FBI monitor dissidents and free-thinkers (not, though, helping the FBI track down rapists or counterfitters, etc.). Think back to Elia Kazan and others.

Just worth reflecting on.

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