Monica Crowley's plagiarism scandals and the importance of intellectual honesty

Monica Crowley's plagiarism scandals and the importance of intellectual honesty

“A beast is always going to enjoy the feast in a land full of sheeps and wolves doing the hard work the least.”Anuj Somany

I remember, in vivid colors, the impression of seriousness my teachers imparted on me regarding plagiarism. From an early age, I was taught that to steal, whether it be something tangible or something unable to be grasped by human hands, is to be an abomination.

According to The Washington Post, Monica Crowley, our Toddler-Elect Donald Trump's "top National Security Council post" plagiarized "work from columnists, news reports, articles and think tanks without proper attribution" for her 2012 book, “What the (Bleep) Just Happened?”

In addition, The Post reports that Crowley is now "under fire for allegedly plagiarizing passages in her PhD dissertation at Columbia University." The 2000 dissertation, entitled “Clearer Than Truth: Determining and Preserving Grand Strategy: The Evolution of American Policy Toward the People’s Republic of China Under Truman and Nixon", has "more than a dozen" passages lifted from various journalists work. Ironically, the dissertation is dedicated to Former President Richard Nixon and his Former National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger.

As a result, HarperCollins, the publisher of her book, has recalled all copies of her book until she addresses her allegations. Trump's Transition Team, not surprisingly, calls the charges bogus and that “any attempt to discredit Monica is nothing more than a politically motivated attack that seeks to distract from the real issues facing this country." (All previously quoted passages are taken from The Washington Post's article.)

What this barrage of journalistic cloak and dagger really boils down to is the concept of Intellectual Honesty. If you use a quote or even an idea from another person, you credit their contribution. As early as 1st grade, children are taught to give credit where credit is due, especially in their school research. In high school, teachers can and will fail you for the entire course if they can substantiate claims of plagiarism against you.

An intellectual's mind is his and his alone. The ideas, whether they are good or bad, belong to him because they are a result of the power of his mind. Stealing ideas verbatim is just as high a crime as robbing a bank. It is, in essence, raping man of his intellectual property.

Crowley's behavior is symptomatic of the actions of every person connected to the Trump team. Rank dishonesty and blanket denials are their bread and butter, and they aren't shy about spreading it on thick and eating their fill.

Yet, does the average American care about this issue? To those who don't write or think independently, which I'm guessing is a large percentage of Trump's supporters, it is a light crime, indeed. But, to someone like me who lives off of the fruits of his intellect, this is the highest and most egregious offense possible.

Trump himself does not know the fruits of his own intellectual labor, as his books were ghostwritten and his contributors forcibly held in the shadows. In an interview with New Yorker Magazine, Tony Schwartz, who co-wrote The Donald's bestseller The Art of The Deal, opines that “Trump didn’t fit any model of human being I’d ever met. He was obsessed with publicity, and he didn’t care what you wrote.” Schwartz admitted that he "lipstick on a pig,” and the "felt a deep sense of remorse that" he "contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” Trump, in return and according to Schwarz, "over the decades, Trump [had] appeared to convince himself that he had written the book."

Intellectual property and ideas have no place in Trump's America, as all of his team's ideas are "strictly secondhand", to quote a famous Barbra Streisand number. Yet, it is up to the journalist community, myself included, to uphold the standards of truth that we have always held inviolate.

Again, it is up to the rational people of this country to not count this off as an ancillary issue, but to hold it up, along with thousands of others examples, as testimony of Trump's unfitness for the Office of Presidency.

And, let's just say, that supporting a plagiarizer and lambasting Meryl Streep as "over-rated" have shoved The Donald even deeper into the proverbial dank sewer I house him in.


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  • Monica here nor there, you have isolated the essential problem with the Goebbels orientation of the incoming administration. The Quark has another instance. Then, when there are reports that the Cabinet nominees are dancing in the Senate all disclaiming their Fearless Leader's statements, and Fearless Leader says he knows the intelligence briefings are false because he doesn't read them, it basically comes down to that while the craven have found sufficient numbers of the stupid to believe them, they think the rest of us are that stupid.

    I really wonder how the country will get through its first Fascist government.

  • As a retired teacher I fought the battle of plagiarism all of my career. Students who tried it were not very remorseful and I've had parents argue with me even when I show them the evidence.

    It's particularly pathetic when all you have to do is credit the source!

    An offshoot for me was the online translator. I taught Spanish and I would have students type the English in and turn in the garbled translation.

    Such a hard battle to fight but I am right there with you.

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    I suppose that it is easier to do now, but also easier to detect, since one can just put the phrase into a search engine. Just ask Melania.

    But darn, I can't trust the online translators? I have used them to make a point in русский or עִברִית, to people I'm sure could never figure it out.

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