A dangerous confusion between past misjudgment and actual disloyalty marks the recent perjury indictment of Owen Lattimore, according to Edwin O. Reischauer, professor of Far Eastern Languages.
This basic misconception, he said, poses an immediate threat to independent thought in Government service and a latent danger of academic conformity.
Reischauer decried the evaluation of actions in the 1930's in terms of current opinion. Recalling Japan's persecution of scholars in 1930, for popular statements made ten years earlier, he said, "This is almost as bad as interpreting the Middle Ages in terms of modern thought."
Referring to investigating teams like the Senate Internal Security subcommittee, he declared, "If you pile up enough past misjudgments, it now seems to indicate that a man is disloyal."
Lattimore, too, is mistaken in trying to "defend himself in terms of today, instead of proving his loyalty."
Stifles Free Expression
Lattimore was indicted earlier this week on seven counts of perjury allegedly made before the Senate Internal Security subcommittee.
This type of frenzied misevaluation "discourages foreign service men from showing independent thought and from reporting trends abroad which might be very unpopular back home," Reischauer stated.
We would, in effect, "condemn ourselves to going blind on lots of things."
He also noted the potential danger of scholars being "frightened into conformity."