MIJ stalking horse for Tomeing administration move to silence dissent?

In its July 25 edition the Marshall Islands Journal published an anonymous article attacking U.S. Ambassador Bishop’s alleged lack of diplomatic skills.   [See the August 2 posting below “RMI PRESIDENT TOMEING EXPOSES HIS LACK OF DIPLOMATIC SKILLS…”  That August 2 blog posting details Tomeing’s collaboration with the MIJ to discredit U.S. Ambassador – including the leak of selected transcripts of meetings between Tomeing and the American Ambassador.   Also see August 4 posting “RMI-U.S. Relations:  A Case of Tomeing Poisoning?”]


Now in its August 15 edition the MIJ has published a satirical attack on critics of the Tomeing administration, and critics of the MIJ itself, in an article attributed to a writer with a fictitious name.   Like the anonymous article on the U.S. Ambassador, use of a fictitious name is a form of anonymity.


Yet, the MIJ satirical attack states that anonymous commentary on political affairs is “cowardly” and somehow less than legitimate.  How can the MIJ publish anonymous commentary attacking others for anonymous commentaries?   If anonymity is wrong for protest and dissent, then it is wrong for the MIJ in its defense of the Tomeing administration as well.    


Our sources suggest the writer using the name and photograph of the fictitious “Mary Robinson” may be the owner of the MIJ, Joe Murphy.   In his article under that false identity, the imposter makes a lame attempt at disinformation and confusion, by claiming to be the source of recent anonymous protests and dissent against the Tomeing administration.   The article claims the “Island Rumors” cyber network, which opposes policies of Tomeing and RMI Foreign Minister Tony deBrum, are all fabrications of the fictitious “Mary Robinson.”   The writer then defends deBrum and the Tomeing administration as a good and honorable leadership team.


The anonymous attack on anonymous dissent is cloaked in the costume of satire, but its purpose is to make a mockery of dissent and protest, and to confuse the debate in the RMI over the current direction of the government’s policies.  It makes a false claim of authorship of “Island Rumors” and then claims that network does not really exist, and that its contents are made up to as a joke and are without merit.  

Because it has been established to our satisfaction that the real sources of “Island Rumors” are legitimate and not connected to the MIJ or “Mary Robinson” deception, this MIJ “joke”constitutes a disinformation propaganda technique rather than an intellectually honest contribution to the political discourse.   The veil of satire does not conceal the malicious rather than humorous purpose of the “Mary Robinson” spoof.


We have no connection to “Island Rumors” but defend their right to post anonymously, as well as our own right to do so.   For the record, the right of anonymous dissent and protest is critical in a democracy, especially when protest is often punished in new democracies like the RMI, still struggling with the vestiges of undemocratic feudal traditions.   The historic Federalist Papers that began the process of open public debate in the American Revolution were anonymous.   The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that anonymous communication is a right of free speech.


We are told that MIJ owner Joe Murphy was a victim of intimidation himself, and that he was forced to abandon journalism for a lucrative printing business based on RMI government printing contracts.  This reportedly was after former RMI President Amata Kabua cut him off from government printing contracts due to criticism in his articles about Kabua’s policies.  


That is why it is surprising if it is true that Murphy now has become the surrogate of Tony deBrum and the ruling party, going after those who protest anonymously.   Murphy should know better, having been intimidated himself.    We can understand that he may have had no choice but to submit to political pressure, but why would he now help the government intimidate others.


Whoever she is in real life, the MIJ should be ashamed of Mary Robinson.




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