Stuart Kaufman: The Cowardice of Anonymity

Stuart Kaufman

My late father once said of me:  “If there is a fact from which you can’t make money … Stuart knows it!” As a public service I begin this column with some such facts. Perhaps you can pick up a few bucks at the Blind Tiger Pub by knowing them.

Some 30,000 years ago, some proto-artist “signed” his work with a handprint. Presumably, he wanted to leave his mark and let it be known that he (“Erg” or “Uk” or whatever his name was) was the one who produced it. He did not want to remain anonymous.

According to Wikipedia, “writing may have independently developed in at least five ancient civilizations:  Mesopotamia (between 3400 and 3100 BCE), Egypt (around 3250 BCE), China (2000 BCE), lowland Mesoamerica (by 650 BCE) and Peru (perhaps as early as 2700 BCE but more likely 200 CE).” We are told that Enheduanna, a Sumerian priestess and daughter of King Sargon of Akkad, is the first named author in world history. Presumably, Enheduanna wanted the patriarch Abraham and his fellow citizens of Ur to know that it was she who penned the words that they were reading and that, unlike all of the authors who had preceded her, she did not choose to remain anonymous. She had something to say and she wanted those who imbibed it to know who said it.

Now, venture out to the Blind Tiger with the aforementioned facts firmly ensconced in your memory and win some ducats from Prioleau Alexander.

It is certainly true that anonymity, in many cases, may be vital to the protection of an author’s very life. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay published the Federalist Papers under the joint pseudonym “Publius” because they knew that the King would take a dim view of that which they were espousing, i.e., getting rid of the King. And although they were prepared to pledge their lives, fortune and sacred honor, they saw no reason to throw them away indiscriminately if there was an alternative: to wit, anonymity.

So, I do not make a blanket condemnation of anonymity. In many cases it is a useful tactic in a worthwhile cause. Those who file complaints against drug dealers have, in my opinion, excellent reasons for remaining anonymous. And if the choice is between protecting the identity of someone who is trying to rid society of a drug dealer and discouraging a witness to come forward, I am all in favor of hiding that witness’ identity. Those who take to the streets in Hong Kong or Caracas against their vile, cruel and corrupt governments are in danger and, even if they are not masked, they protect their identities by their sheer number (although those who appear barefaced in those venues are taking their lives in their hands).

However, anonymity can be and frequently is, the method by which scoundrels and poltroons go about with impunity, destroying the lives, fortune and sacred honor of their targets. One need look no further than the so-called Antifa brigades. These vandals and varlets go about their filthy business of trashing and destroying cities with their faces masked. That is not bravery. That is cowardice.

In recent weeks, we have had the spectacle of the media and various government officials claiming some sort of sainthood for someone whom they have dubbed the “Whistleblower,” and protecting his so called “anonymity” from exposure in accordance (so they claim) with “The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989.”

Allow me to disabuse you of any misconceptions that you may have derived from the collective lies of Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, the renowned flatulent Eric Swalwell, the New York Times, MSNBC and other assorted abusers of the truth. “The Whistleblower Act of 1989” states that it is violated if federal agency authorities “take (or threaten to take) retaliatory personnel action against any employee or applicant because of disclosure of information by that employee or applicant.”

It says nothing about protecting anyone’s anonymity. It simply says that a “whistleblower” (i.e., “a person who provides privileged information about a person or organization to an agency”) can’t be fired or punished for “blowing the whistle.” It does not say anywhere that his identity must be concealed. It nowhere provides anyone with Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility. Like that cloak, the whistleblower’s claim to the right to remain anonymous is nothing but fiction. The Whistleblower Act gives no more than civil service protection to the person who meets the definition of “whistleblower” under the statute — that is, he can’t be fired or administratively punished by his agency.

It appears that in the most recent, celebrated so-called “whistleblower” case, a person who has been generally identified as the “whistleblower” is a CIA connected, John Brennan/Susan Rice protege. However, under the terms of the statute, this guy doesn’t even qualify as a “whistleblower.” The information that he presumably imparted was not “privileged.” It was not firsthand. It is nothing but hearsay! This so-called “whistleblower is nothing but a garden variety spy who invents stories about those whom he opposes politically.

Hilariously, the media and certain government officials not only tried to conceal his identity but, now that we may know his name, they are pretending that he still retains anonymity. They are acting as if the invisible cloak has descended and they have no idea of this person’s identity. Just the other night I was listening to Mark Levin on Fox Radio. He said that since he (Levin) appears under the auspices of Fox Broadcasting, he can’t say this guy’s name (Fox, the so-called maverick conservative network, like NBC, CBS and ABC, has decreed it). However, to my great amusement, Levin (obviously tweaking Fox) then quoted an article naming Eric Ciaramella which he (Levin) was able to do (despite Fox’s ukase), because, after all, he was simply quoting someone else. The charade is hilarious.

The insanity of the swamp continues apace. During the third day of the House Intelligence(?) Committee impeachment farce, the chairman (whose name I can’t type without a sneer on my face) kept making a big deal about protecting the anonymity of the “whistleblower.” How can anyone take these people seriously?

The point is that this “whistleblower,” whether he is Eric Ciaramella or someone else, is no hero. He is a coward who is trying to avoid the consequences of the fact that he probably got out over his skis, tumbled into the fell clutches of the putrid Schiff and then found himself enmeshed in the muck of the swamp. We are not a country in which the Spanish Inquisition holds sway. The days when the ruler could destroy “Publius” if their identities were revealed have long past. This whistleblower faces no serious danger, at least no more than anyone else (I personally have been the subject of many threats, yet I do not write anonymously). If he had something of importance to say, or some important information to impart, he should have had the courage to stand behind his allegations. That would have been the manly thing to do.

Instead, it appears that Adam Schiff’s vaunted hero is the living model for Barack Hussein Obama’s “Pajama Boy” — sitting on his mother’s sofa, wiping orange Cheeto powder from his chin, burrowed deep down into his safe space.

But the latest Mr. Anonymous is nothing more than a symptom of what has happened to so many of us. We have a wealth of outlets for voicing our grievances with the opportunity to remain unidentified, while spreading poison, inventing lies, defaming others and generally acting like … cowards. By enabling anonymity, we deny ourselves the benefit of being able to judge context, nuance, veracity, motive and numerous other factors that weigh heavily on whether a source or a witness should be believed. If this whistleblower’s nose was far up John Brennan’s fundament, wouldn’t that have a bearing on the believability of his allegations against the president?

I can say with absolute assurance that anything that I have ever written was written out in the open. I have never taken the path of anonymity. It is not that I think myself a hero. Standing up, out of the shadows, should be the standard: if you voice an opinion, say it in full throat with your identity attached to it. That is not heroic, it should be expected. Failure to do so is cowardice.

We live in the United States, thank G-d, and we are free to express ourselves. Furthermore, if we are not prepared to accept responsibility for that which we say (unless it could cause us actually to lose our livelihoods or place us in danger of immediate and palpable, not theoretical, harm), then we are the cowards. The point is that if there is not the prospect of substantial harm, each and every one of us should be prepared — nay, eager — to stand up and accept full responsibility for what we say and do.

Otherwise, we can take our Cheetos and go home to Mommy.

This article was originally published in the Charleston Mercury. 

Stuart Kaufman

Stuart Kaufman is a retired lawyer, investment banker and businessman. He relocated from New York to Mount Pleasant in 2012. A friend recently told him that he has been a South Carolinian all of his life ... but he just didn’t know it.

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