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I. F. Stone

American investigative journalist and author
I. F. Stone, April 1972
The U.S. now seems to operate on the principle that invasion of other people's skies is our right, and efforts to interfere with it (at least by weaker powers) punishable by reprisal. This is pure "might is right" doctrine...
There must be renewed recognition that societies are kept stable and healthy by reform, not by thought police; this means there must be free play for so-called subversive ideas - every idea subverts the old to make way for the new. To shut off subversion is to shut off peaceful progress and to invite revolution and war.
The fault I find with most American newspapers is not the absence of dissent. it is the absence of news. With a dozen or so honorable exceptions, most American newspapers carry very little news. Their main concern is advertising.
What the world (and particularly the White House) needs to remember is that aggression is unleashed and escalated when one party to a dispute decides for itself who is guilty and how he is to be punished.
I thought I might teach philosophy but the atmosphere of a college faculty repelled me; the few islands of greatness seemed to be washed by seas of pettiness and mediocrity.
There’s a lot of things those journalists know, that I don’t know, but a lot of it is wrong.


Isador Feinstein Stone (December 24, 1907June 18, 1989), better known as I. F. Stone, was a politically progressive American investigative journalist, writer, and author. He is best remembered for I. F. Stone's Weekly (1953–71), a newsletter ranked 16th among the top hundred works of journalism in the U.S., in the 20th century, by the New York University journalism department, in 1999; and second place among print journalism publications.


QuotesEdit

  • There must be renewed recognition that societies are kept stable and healthy by reform, not by thought police; this means there must be free play for so-called subversive ideas - every idea subverts the old to make way for the new. To shut off subversion is to shut off peaceful progress and to invite revolution and war.
  • Professor Einstein would not have liked a stuffy tribute. My wife and I loved him. He was a charter subscriber to the Weekly, and often strained its primitive bookkeeping facilities by renewing when no renewal was due. We and our three children had the great pleasure on several occasions of having tea with him at his home. It was like going to tea with God, not the terrible old God of the Bible but the little child’s father-in-heaven, very kind, very wise and yet himself very much like a child, too…
    • Stone's obituary tribute to Einstein, April 1955, reprinted in The Best of I. F. Stone and quoted in I. F. Stone Remembered. radioopensource.org (22 September 2006).
  • Every time we are confronted with a new revolution we take to the opium pipes of our own propaganda.
  • I sought in political reporting what Galsworthy in another context had called "the significant trifle" — the bit of dialogue, the overlooked fact, the buried observation which illuminated the realities of the situation.
    • The Haunted Fifties (1963)
  • The fault I find with most American newspapers is not the absence of dissent. it is the absence of news. With a dozen or so honorable exceptions, most American newspapers carry very little news. Their main concern is advertising.
    • The Haunted Fifties (1963)
  • A certain moral imbecility marks all ethnocentric movements.
  • All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.
    • In a Time of Torment, 1961-1967 (1967), p. 317
  • Lifelong dissent has more than acclimated me cheerfully to defeat. It has made me suspicious of victory. I feel uneasy at the very idea of a Movement. I see every insight degenerating into a dogma, and fresh thoughts freezing into lifeless party line.
  • I thought I might teach philosophy but the atmosphere of a college faculty repelled me; the few islands of greatness seemed to be washed by seas of pettiness and mediocrity.

NPR: Excerpt: The Best of I.F. Stone (5 September 2006)Edit

Transcript/full text online

  • The American government and the American press have kept the full truth about the Tonkin Bay incidents from the American public.
  • What the world (and particularly the White House) needs to remember is that aggression is unleashed and escalated when one party to a dispute decides for itself who is guilty and how he is to be punished.
  • This is what is happening in Cyprus, where we have been begging Greeks and Turks to desist from the murderous escalation of reprisal and counter reprisal. Johnson practices in Southeast Asia what he deplores in the Mediterranean....
  • The first was the raid by U.S. Navy planes in June on Pathet Lao headquarters in Laos in retaliation for shooting down two reconnaissance planes. We would not hesitate to shoot down reconnaissance planes over our own territory; such overflights are a clear violation of international law. But the U.S. now seems to operate on the principle that invasion of other people's skies is our right, and efforts to interfere with it (at least by weaker powers) punishable by reprisal. This is pure "might is right" doctrine...
  • Even in wartime, reprisals are supposed to be kept within narrow limits. Hackworth's Digest, the State Department's huge Talmud of international law, quotes an old War Department manual, Rules of Land Warfare, as authoritative on the subject. This says reprisals are never to be taken "merely for revenge" but "only as an unavoidable last resort" to "enforce the recognized rules of civilized warfare." Even then reprisals "should not be excessive or exceed the degree of violence committed by the enemy." These were the principles we applied at the Nuremberg trials.
  • Our reprisal raids on North Vietnam hardly conformed to these standards. By our own account, in self-defense, we had already sunk three or four attacking torpedo boats in two incidents. In neither were our ships damaged nor any of our men hurt; indeed, one bullet imbedded in one destroyer hull is the only proof we have been able to muster that the second of the attacks even took place. To fly sixty-four bombing sorties in reprisal over four North Vietnamese bases and an oil depot, destroying or damaging twenty-five North Vietnamese PT boats, a major part of that tiny navy, was hardly punishment to fit the crime....
  • Morse revealed that U.S. warships were on patrol in Tonkin Bay nearby during the shelling of two islands off the North Vietnamese coast on Friday, July 31, by South Vietnamese vessels. Morse said our warships were within three to eleven miles of North Vietnamese territory, at the time, although North Vietnam claims a twelve-mile limit. *Morse declared that the U.S. "knew that the bombing was going to take place." He noted that General Khanh had been demanding escalation of the war to the North and said that with this shelling of the islands it was escalated. Morse declared the attack was made "by South Vietnamese naval vessels -- not by junks but by armed vessels of the PT boat type" given to South Vietnam as part of U.S. military aid. Morse said it was not just another attempt to infiltrate agents but "a well thought-out military operation." Morse charged that the presence of our warships in the proximity "where they could have given protection, if it became necessary" was "bound to be looked upon by our enemies as an act of provocation."
  • The press, which dropped an Iron Curtain weeks ago on the anti-war speeches of Morse and Gruening, ignored this one, too.

Quotes about StoneEdit

  • One of the great reporters of the 20th century, I.F. Stone, told journalism students never to forget that "All governments lie." He could speak with authority, having spent seven decades exposing deception and official lies by digging deep into government documents and transcripts. He gained his greatest fame and impact publishing the newsletter called "I.F. Stone's Weekly," taking on McCarthyism, racism in the military, and the Vietnam War. "In this age of corporation men," he wrote in 1963, "I am an independent capitalist, the owner of my own enterprise." This critically acclaimed documentary, produced in1973, offered an inside look at how Izzy Stone worked.
  • Stone was... a lover of freedom. A part of him always rebelled against the culture of mendacity he helped to foster in his own corner of the American left... “All governments lie,” Stone’s maxim, ought to be plastered across every journalist’s desk. But the lesson Stone can offer us today is, I would say, mostly a reminder that we will have to rise to our own occasion, and not expect heroes from the past to guide our faltering steps.

https://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/01/books/review/Berman.t.html?pagewanted=all

  • I.F. “Izzy” Stone was a wonderfully intelligent, hard-working, and highly respected American journalist who wasn’t afraid to speak truth to power. He’d been blacklisted during the McCarthy witch hunts and couldn’t get a job with a mainstream paper, so he started his own independent weekly. Stone was not invited to White House press conferences, but didn’t mind. He famously said, “There’s a lot of things those journalists know, that I don’t know, but a lot of it is wrong.” Stone read the voluminous Congressional Record cover to cover, finding news stories in unlikely places. Stone was highly respected and had good sources inside government.
  • A new [2017] documentary called All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone... considers decades of U.S. government controversies and the press that covered them... a film about the “children” of I.F. Stone — those contemporary independent, investigative journalists who work with his spirit, and perhaps were inspired or motivated by him, weaving Stone’s story through the film... the unifying theme — which we used as the title of our film — is Izzy Stone’s dictum that “all governments lie.” The film tracks several of the lies we’ve been told by several presidents and others in government over the years. There are many more examples, of course. Little did we know, when we started this film, that by the time it was completed, we’d be living in the “post-truth” age of “alternate facts.” When we started making the film three years ago, Donald Trump was not a candidate and few people would have predicted he would become president of the United States. The film now seems even more vital and prescient in this “post-truth” world of “alternative facts.”
  • In 1964 I. F. Stone was the first American journalist to challenge the account provided by President Lyndon B. Johnson of the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Throughout the 1960s Stone exposed the futility of the Vietnam War. By the 1960s the I. F. Stone's Weekly had a circulation of 70,000. However, ill-health forced I. F. Stone to cease publication in 1971.

See alsoEdit

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