When the US State Department fired me it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
In early 2019, State informed me that they would no longer use my services as a trainer, speaker and teacher of Communications and Journalism in Francophone and Anglophone Africa because of criticism and slurs I had published on John Bolton and Donald Trump.
I was devastated. For 25 years, I had promoted the concepts I believed made America great and I did my best to shine a light on that beautiful citadel on the hill. The loss in extra revenue has also made my life much more difficult.
But I would be hard put today to promote our First Amendment, the concepts of Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech, the importance of accountability, and why the press and justice systems must be independent from political influence, given the practices of the present administration. Africans would be quite right to laugh me out of town.
But I was Wrong
I was wrong to use the adjectives and nouns I did to describe John Bolton (click here). Any reasonable person, after reading the facts and examples I gave, would draw the same conclusion as I had; that John Bolton is “evil.”
I regret and apologise for calling Donald Trump a “scumbag” on Twitter. As a Vietnam War era veteran and an American, I was distraught and deeply hurt when Trump pardoned convicted war criminals. This sends the wrong message to GIs on what it means to be the American soldier and takes away any moral ground for us to condemn the “scumbags” we are fighting for their atrocities.
American atrocities almost always go unpunished but rarely unpublished.
The Wrong Guy
The irony is that I was the only member of the Anglo American Press Association of France who I ever heard say anything positive about Trump if he did or said something I thought was correct. I still do although the occasions are very rare.
I have toned down my vocabulary since being fired. I believe though, after 40 years in the business, I have the right to some poetic license and editorial largesse. Mark Twain once wrote: “If you see an adjective, kill it!” I take his advice.
Still Ready & Willing
I truly hope that when this nightmare is over, and an administration is in power which can return to some sort of normality, that State will remember all the good I did for the image of our country and give me a few last assignments so I can say a proper good-bye to a continent I love.
I often told my trainees that I suppose, like most people, I could be bought off and compromise my principles if the price was right. They would inevitably ask me how much that was? To which I would reply: “I don’t know. Nobody has ever offered me enough money.”
I miss the gigs. I miss Africa. I’m hurting financially. But my conscience is intact.