I WAS DISTURBED BY THE moral arrogance of the article on Ryoichi Sasakawa (“Peacemonger,” 10/22) which was proffered as journalism. This is not the first time I have read articles on the so-called problem of American institutions accepting “dirty money” from the Sasakawa philanthropic foundation (there were several universities your reporter left out). Granted that looking back on Sasakawa’s past, a steady stream of ethical propriety is difficult to discern, yet when have we in the United States, a relatively young nation, ever examined the way people make money? Are you willing to look into the personal lives of all the super-rich around the world? Or is it that Sasakawa, a Japanese, looks like a hypocrite in American eyes and such outward hypocrisy is anathema to the “American” style of morality?
The writing reeked with hyperbole, elevated to a grand degree: “[H]is eyes are not eyes at all but simply vacant eyeholes.” Is this a metaphor suggesting the man has no soul, a moral judgment of Sasakawa on the “evidence” presented in the article (which was no evidence at all, just building a moral double bind)? And what does your paper know, anyway, about Japanese politics, post-WWII fascism, and yakuza? And how “clean” are our American philanthropists and politicians?
Finally, I have read and reread the article trying to figure out the main point it was trying to articulate, and decided it must be “what is Ryoichi Sasakawa really after?” Indeed, no one can ever really answer a question about another person’s real motives, so what is the point of this article anyway?
Meryl Siegal, Dupont Circle