Newspapers often have habits of publishing things the public will disagree with. Time and time again, they come under fire for exposing a politician, reporting on controversial topics and in some cases, publishing an opinion article written by a national enemy. The backlash a newspaper gets from an article published could make or break the company’s future, but it is a patriotic obligation to the world public to continue doing it.
The New York Times has been known in recent years to fiercely publish controversial ideas, fully embracing the first amendment. Their “Anonymous” op-ed slamming Donald Trump, an opinion explaining on a perspective that China’s communist regime was beneficial for women and now a narrative from the Taliban.
On Thursday, Feb. 20, the Times released an article written by Sirajuddin Haqqani, the deputy leader of the Taliban. The article is titled “What We, the Taliban, Want.” Haqqani writes on the past relationship the US and Taliban forces had—stating their militia operations are a reaction to US military threats.
“Reports about foreign groups in Afghanistan are politically motivated exaggerations by the warmongering players on all sides of the war.” Haqqani said. “It is not in the interest of any Afghan to allow such groups to hijack our country and turn it into a battleground.”
The Taliban, as we all know, is a long-time enemy of the United States and much of the world. The terrorist organization forces oppressive lifestyles on women, different religions and others who express disagreement towards them. The group that provided safety for Osama Bin Laden to plot and execute 9/11 is now a columnist for an American newspaper.
It’s not a good look for the Times, but the reason the op-ed was published wasn’t to endorse the Taliban. The article was published to show American readers what the perspective is. They did it to provide information, not shovel anti-American propaganda down public throats. It is not to sympathize with Taliban leaders and supporters, but to show readers what kind of narratives are out there.
There are still book companies today that publish “Mein Kampf.” You could go to any library and pick a copy of “Quotations of Mao Zedong.” Anyone could pull up a PDF file of Ho Chi Minh’s Diary. Publishment is not equivalent to endorsement.
There should always be a circulation of information and transparency. Newspapers have a responsibility to make ideas and information public so that people can create their own opinion on what information is out there. The Times is not forcing anyone to think like the Taliban does. The opinion section—simply put—is the public comment section of a town hall meeting. Opinions are those of the writer. The only thing newspapers are supposed to say is “this is what they said.”
Americans fear only what we are told to fear. And if we are afraid of a newspaper publishing a terrorist’s empty words, we cannot win any fight against oppression.
Sarah Strang can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sarahstrang100.