Credibility for saleWith the presidential election drawing near, the intellectual community is aflutter.
At least 300 professors are lining up behind each presidential candidate on the pretext of providing professional advice.
“Did you have a safe night?” was the most common greeting in Korea during the Korean War, from 1950 to 1953. Among professors these days, it is “Which politicians are you working for?”
Of course, there is no rule forbidding professors or journalists from jumping into politics.
If they are doing so to bring their experience-based philosophies and professionalism to politics, as they claim, they are encouraged to do so.
They could help turn the fancy vision offered by presidential hopefuls into a reliable and realistic plan.
Keeping political neutrality does not mean forfeiting the right to have a political opinion. But many intellectuals these days have crossed the line.
It is hard to find any professor who hasn’t already visited the camps of presidential hopefuls. Many of them are hoping to back politicians who can give them a better position after the election, rather than trying to find someone with whom they align philosophically.
The professors’ primary duties -- to conduct academic research and to guide students has taken a back seat.
Politicians use the professors in their campaigns, too, boasting about how many follow them.
Even civic group activists and journalists are hoping to follow in the footsteps of such “polifessors.”
The presidential campaigns have now almost turned into a form of pollution.
In particular, the job of journalists requires political neutrality.
Under the election law, journalists, like public servants, are required to retire from their posts 60 days before applying for any governmental post.
It means they should not use their articles or columns for political purposes.
But, we see some senior journalists ― editors, managing editors and editorial writers ― flocking to work for presidential hopefuls as soon as they quit the jobs.
It’s like selling the credibility of the media for which they worked for their own personal political gains.
At this time, more than any other, intellectuals need the virtue of moderation.