DoubleQuoting Leah Farrall & John Boyd

[ by Charles Cameron — because integrity is so crucial, and because this point so richly deserves repeating ]

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Leah in a Sources & Methods podcast, talking about her work as a counter-terrorism analyst, as the co-author of her book with Mustafa Hamid, The Arabs at War in Afghanistan, and as an academic:

You have to be very sure of your own strengths and weaknesses, and what you will and won’t tolerate, and the consequences of that. It sounds silly, but if you’re not prepared to lower your standards, for example, if the integrity of your work is something you value above all else, be prepared to be blacklisted. I’ve pulled things from high-profile publications because they’ve insisted on using words that would misrepresent something so badly that subject matter experts would say ‘what the hell.’ Now, that’s my commitment, that’s a personal commitment, but that’s come with a cost. And to anybody coming into the academic field, be aware of that type of stuff. Be aware of what it is you will commit to, and what it is you won’t. Because there is going to come a time where you will have to make a choice – do you surrender some of that integrity?

And Boyd, in an anecdote that will be familiar to many Zenpundit readers:

“Tiger,” he would say, “one day you will come to a fork in the road. And you’re going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go.” He raised his hand and pointed. “If you go that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments.” Then Boyd raised his other hand and pointed another direction. “Or you can go that way and you can do something — something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted and you may not get the good assignments and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won’t have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference. To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That’s when you will have to make a decision. To be or to do? Which way will you go?