Setting the Record Straight
Howard C. Self
President, Right To Believe
In the realm of print media in the U.S., there arguably is no entity as powerful as the New York Times. Such a position of power carries great responsibility-responsibility to be a champion of fairness and equality-which the Times often claims to be. To its great discredit however, the New York Times has established a new low in journalistic abuse with its blatantly bigoted magazine article of November 7, 2021, “The Untold Story of Sushi in America” written by Daniel Fromson. The bigotry displayed therein is both racially and religiously offensive.
The title of the 26-pages concoction gives the impression that what follows will be some type of “food article”. It proves to be as deceptive as the article itself; in effect disguising an outrageous continuation of the Times’ long-running vilification of the now deceased Reverend Sun Myung Moon and anything and anyone connected to him. This poorly written, factually incorrect and amateurishly illustrated piece manages to offend not only the millions of faithful worldwide of the Unification Movement that Reverend Moon founded, but also anyone of Asian descent. This latter offense is accomplished through the disgraceful, stereotypically racist depictions of Asians that run in full color throughout the piece. Asians are depicted as round-faced and severely slanty-eyed….in the on-line version, the moon (obviously meant to represent Reverend Moon) has a round face and rolls around in an unseemly manner, with unflattering distorted facial grimaces. Such depictions are made without a thought for how they would deleteriously affect the thousands of sushi restaurant owners/employees of Asian descent throughout the nation and world.
Right away, Fromson uses the derogative term, “Moonies”; a term long ago established to be the religious equivalent of the racist “N word”-and just as offensive. Many respected publications now rightfully refuse to allow that term’s use. Reverend Moon, revered by millions as a man of great faith and accomplishment, is slanderously described as “a hazy, zany memory…fit for a Seinfeld joke.” Could one be more insulting and bigoted than that? Fromson even includes an unfavorable mention of Joseph Smith and the Mormons. The opening sentence, “In the beginning, God did not create a sushi company” may seem “cute” to the Times’ editors, but many of Judeo-Christian background see it as a sacrilegious misappropriation of the opening sentence of their Holy Bible. Naturally, all who support First Amendment religious freedom rights will forcefully decry such a bigoted piece of writing. How could the “Grey Lady” be so tone-dead insensitive to the mistreatment of so many? It being selectively so, is even more surprising (and hypocritical?) when considering the Times’ highly self-promoted “1619 Project” that so thoroughly denounces racism in the U.S.
The Story Behind the “Untold Story”
The New York Times has indeed long portrayed itself as being the champion of oppressed minorities and the epitome of correctness when dealing with minority races and faiths. Its magazine even has an ongoing column called “The Ethicist” which is introduced each week with: “Kwame Anthony Appiah considers readers’ ethical quandaries”. Why then would the editors sign off on such an obviously bigoted hack job that would potentially offend nearly half the people on the planet? It seems that the Times’ zeal in continuing their decades-long campaign against Reverend Moon and his movement and now, his family- has trumped even their own sense of journalistic integrity. One has to wonder what Kwame would say about this completely offensive, discriminatory article.
The timing of the publishing of this article is itself suspect –coming just when the nearly 11 years-old “UCI court case” (the case at the heart of a religious schism within the Unification Movement) has finally reached the appellate level and is awaiting the decision of the appeals court at any moment. This fact makes one consider it highly unlikely that this timing is mere coincidence. Further, it is known that sources quoted in the article were interviewed as early as 2017 by Fromson! Does the New York Times normally sit on an article for over four years? Certainly not. But when it comes to Reverend Moon, normal journalistic practices long went out the window for the Times. The Times never missed a chance to disparage Reverend Moon or his movement throughout his nearly 40 years of residence in the USA. The Times’ record of obviously biased coverage toward this man of faith is as long as it is contemptuous; and now continues even after his passing.
It must have been galling for the Times that no matter how hard the newspaper tried to disparage and belittle Reverend Moon and his movement- both just continued to prosper. The capper of it all must have been Reverend Moon’s creation of the very successful The Washington Times in 1982; accomplished even while he was under indictment for trumped up charges of “tax evasion”. Suddenly, there was another prominent newspaper on the East Coast with the name “Times”- and it was created by a controversial Oriental religious leader. Even more concerning for the NYT, as each year passed, the upstart newspaper became a stronger and stronger voice for traditional family values and a powerful source of ammunition for the conservative cause during the deciding years of the Cold War, often directly challenging and contradicting the New York Times. This must have “stuck in their craw” so sorely that now- after many years- they still could commission the publishing of such highly offensive racial and religious copy and caricatures as found in “The Untold Story……”
The “Untold Story” is Based on Slanted Reporting, Bigotry and Outright Lies
While we can now understand more of the motivation for the Times to print such an offensive article, it becomes even more disturbing when one fact-checks its questionable content. It is immediately evident that there is a continuous, most negative slant possible on everything written about Reverend Moon, his movement or his family. And there are many selected omissions by Fromson. For example, he states that Reverend Moon was “convicted of federal tax fraud”. While that is a simply put truth, he denies his readers the fact that the conviction was highly controversial. Even a 10-seconds visit to Wikipedia on the subject reveals that:
“Holding church funds in a minister’s name is fairly common, particularly in small churches, and some church-related or other organizations filed amicus curiae briefs in the case, including the Center for Law and Religious Freedom, the American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Civil Liberties Union, American Baptist Churches in the USA, the National Council of Churches, the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Conference of Black Mayors, and the National Bar Association”.
Most of these powerful entities called for the decision in Reverend Moon’s case to be heard and reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Sadly, the highest court rejected all of their requests. Many Christian ministers were so offended at the “railroad job” against Reverend Moon that they marched in the streets in a number of American cities; some of them even being arrested during the protests. When Reverend Moon was released from prison 1,500 Christian ministers and leaders of other faiths gathered for a giant “Welcome Home” banquet to honor him.
Fromson could also have informed his readers that no less than a U.S. Senate subcommittee investigated Reverend Moon’s case. Its conclusion was read into the record by the committee chairman, Orrin Hatch of Utah: “I do feel strongly, after my subcommittee has carefully and objectively reviewed this case from both sides, that injustice rather than justice has been served.” What a different view of Reverend Moon’s court case is produced when these facts are added! The Times’ selective coverage of this record comprises a disgrace to journalism and an unforgiveable disservice to its readers. Fromson should have at least read the noted author, Carlton Sherwood’s detailed volume on the subject- “Inquisition: The Persecution and Prosecution of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon” to understand why this case came to be seen as a strong example of injustice for so many.
But for its readers to know the truth about Reverend Moon, and those associated with him was quite obviously not what the Times nor Mr. Fromson set out to accomplish. After a perfunctory short “history” of sushi, Fromson proceeds to introduce Reverend Moon’s life in the most mocking and derisive fashion possible. The hard cold fact is that, including his incarceration in the U.S. on trumped up charges, Reverend Moon was imprisoned six times in the course of his mission, including a death camp in Communist North Korea from which he was released by the UN armed forces led by General Douglas MacArthur. In the U.S. prosecution/persecution, the government told him that he would not have to serve even one day in prison, if he would simply return to Korea and not come back. (There was no extradition treaty between the U.S. and South Korea) Reverend Moon immediately replied that he could not give up the mission in the U.S. that God had sent him to do. At that time, Reverend Moon famously stated, “I am here today only because my skin is yellow and my religion is Unification Church.” So, this noble man went to prison for having done nothing other than what thousands of other faith leaders do still today (i.e. have the funds donated by their faith group deposited into an account in their own name, as the trusted faith leader of their group).
Do Reverend Moon and the members of his faith not deserve even a modicum of respect from the mighty New York Times? Here, Fromson writes with derision that Reverend Moon “wove tales of persecution and survival….into a mythology that helped attract tens of thousands of followers.” Fromson seems to be implying that Reverend Moon made up his life story and further that tens of thousands of Unification members are so brainless that they would commit their lives to a mere myth. And, with no known theological degree, Fromson mockingly describes Reverend Moon’s faith: “His beliefs, which fused Christianity with elements of Buddhism, Confucianism, shamanism and sex magic….”. Having dropped this bigotry bomb, he does not even attempt to explain it. Is “sex magic” a new theological term that the rest of us have missed? Is there another faith on earth that the Times would allow to be treated in this way? Perhaps the title to this written atrocity should more appropriately be “The Untold Story of Bigotry in the New York Times”.
Fromson indicates that much of his “information” was drawn from “defectors” (his word) from the Unification Movement. Students of any religion know that former members of any faith group are going to present a very negative and slanted view of the faith that they abandoned. Obviously, for his nefarious purpose, this consideration was of zero concern to Fromson. However, it should have been a concern for any conscientious editor.
Fromson makes a good deal of effort to present his main source, Takeshi Yashiro, in a sympathetic light. He pictures him as a young man with a good family (father was an Anglican bishop). However, his family cut him off when he joined the Unification Movement. In the latter part of the article, a touching description of Yashiro’s funeral is given. It is Yashiro who provides Fromson with many of the minutest details of how Reverend Moon started the sushi effort….and later his narrative about how the Schism in the Movement developed, etc. To his discredit as a journalist, Fromson accepted Yashiro’s narrative wholesale, unquestioningly- never acknowledging that Yashiro might have his own axe to grind in the hotly contested religious schism now embroiling the Unification Movement. IF Fromson had done his “due diligence” as a professional reporter, he would have checked with other sources. AND if the New York Times editors had not been blinded by their desire to attack Reverend Moon, his Movement and now his family, they would have required him to do so.
In fact, Yashiro played a large part in helping to foment the ongoing schism that led to the previously mentioned “UCI court case”; which after 11 years, is now in the hands of the Washington, DC Appellate Court. In fact, Yashiro helped fan the flames of the heated conflict by LYING outright about the Las Vegas meeting which plays so prominently in Fromson’s report. I had been a national level leader within the Unification Movement for over 30 years at that time (2011) and heard from a number of True World Food (TWF) leaders what had actually happened in Las Vegas. The first lie was told to the 60 or so leaders when they were told to go to Las Vegas because reportedly Reverend Moon had called them for a meeting. The meeting was actually called by some devious leaders of TWF led by Motoo Furuta in collusion with corrupt and ambitious clerics of the church. While a number of these leaders had been leading in TWF for some time, Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon (Reverend Moon’s own son) was the Chairman. Against TWF’s corporate board’s express direction for them NOT to call such a meeting, they ignored their corporate leadership, lied to the 60 leaders and brought all to Reverend Moon’s residence in Las Vegas. When Reverend Moon first saw them, he asked the group, “Why are you here?” Shocked by this, the leaders knew that he had not called the meeting.
Reverend Moon concluded the meeting with a lengthy talk, giving general guidance on spiritual matters not specifically directed to just the TWF leaders. Many of the leaders then realized that there was an ongoing campaign attempting to subvert and even overthrow Dr. Moon, mostly due to their resistance to his efforts to eliminate corruption in the leadership.
The Campaign to Destroy Dr. Hyun Jin Moon
Soon after, it became known that Yashiro had the full backing of Mrs. Hak Ja Han, who had already begun her campaign to usurp Dr. Moon’s position as the rightful heir to her husband, chiefly by attempting to destroy her son’s reputation. She had begun all of the nonsense of calling herself the “Only Begotten Daughter of God”- a concept completely foreign to the teachings and practice that Reverend Moon had brought to the world. It was Mrs. Hak Ja Han that engineered the promotion of her youngest son, Sean, to the position of the international president of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU). She also falsely declared that Sean was the real heir (a statement upon which she backtracked in 2019 when she said Sean was never the heir). It became clear later that she had promoted Sean for one reason and one reason only- to oust Dr. Hyun Jin Moon from his position as heir. Once Reverend Moon had passed away in 2012, she not only removed Sean from that position, but also expelled him entirely from the Unification Movement. She and her cabal of corrupt Unification clerics initiated many attacks upon Dr. Moon- including 30 court cases on three continents. Dr. Moon and his associates have prevailed in all of them until now, with the UCI case being the last of the 30. Fromson fails to even mention this legal onslaught.
Yashiro became an important “player” for Hak Ja Han, assisting her greatly in the unrelenting character assassination campaign against Dr. Moon. Fromson, instead of becoming an unwitting tool in this campaign by repeating Yashiro’s lies, should have realized Yashiro’s continuing role in furthering the attacks on Dr. Moon, and reported accordingly. Shamefully, Fromson prints Yashiro’s blatant lie that “Preston (Dr. Moon) was the biggest thief in the history of Moon’s church”. The truth is that many of the businesses under the clerics were failing to the point that they were major liabilities and required huge subsidies from members donations. So, Dr. Moon was entrusted by his father to not only fulfill his spiritual goals but to restructure the business elements, including UCI. He has never stolen anything in his life. IF he had stolen UCI, Hak Ja Han would surely have added that to the charges against him in the infamous UCI civil suit. Even she knew that there was no foundation for such a false charge.
There are other factual errors or distortions in this article that require correction. A glaring error in Fromson’s reporting is his description of Dr. Moon’s 2008 report to Reverend Moon. Without justification, Fromson calls the report “supplicating yet self-righteous”. The report was neither of these. You can read the entire report for yourself here. As has always been his custom, Dr. Moon was respectful to his parents. His writing was sincere and proved to be prophetic. While Fromson states that the report was rejected by Reverend Moon, the truth is that Reverend Moon was enthralled by its visionary content, because Dr. Moon shared his father’s vision so closely. In fact he called for the report to be read by Movement members worldwide for their morning spiritual study-called “Hoon Dok Hae” in Korean. That is because Reverend Moon’s mission had always been to initiate a “global interfaith movement”…not to create a separate church or even a separate religion; so he indeed agreed wholeheartedly with Dr. Moon. There is a video, currently held by Hak Ja Han’s group, of Reverend Moon giving these instructions.
Perhaps the biggest distortion by Fromson comes in his reporting about the “UCI court case”. He flatly states that “the District of Columbia Superior Court vindicated Moon’s church and his widow, and all the others who stood with them”, as if that decision were set in stone. Although he mentions shortly later that this ruling has been stayed, he first goes on at length about the details of the decision, painting Dr. Moon in the worst possible light. He even states his own conclusion that “it (the decision) made Preston (Dr. Moon) out to be a villain in ‘the age-old tale of a struggle for power and money’ “. There is no way to justify such a statement; it is completely out of the bounds of journalistic objectivity and shows by itself that Fromson bought wholeheartedly into Yashiro’s (and Hak Ja Han’s) false narrative– which is basically the same narrative presented by the plaintiffs in the “UCI court case”. Fromson goes on to cast doubt on the success of a First Amendment defense on the appellate level. Again, he fails to let his readers know crucial information -that the judges in the appeals court not only put a permanent stay on the lower court’s decision, they also voiced, in open court, their view that First Amendment religious rights of Dr. Moon and his associates may well have been breached by the lower court. This is in the public record of the proceedings- so Fromson either is in error by poor research OR he (and the Times) have decided to purposely discredit Dr. Moon, as they did his father for forty-plus years. And this without giving any information about the man they are so gleefully attacking.
Who is Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon?
Omitting important facts was a major failure by Fromson in this article. Did he never consider that his readers might like to know at least some basic information about the man whom obviously has replaced his father, Reverend Moon, in the disaffection of the New York Times? Like his father, Dr. Moon has led an astounding life of faith, service, adventure and amazing accomplishment. A few facts all should know about him and his family:
- Moon is currently the greatly respected spiritual leader of hundreds of thousands worldwide, having been appointed as his father’s heir in 1998.
- He graduated from Columbia University with honors with a major in History.
- He also graduated with an MBA from the distinguished Harvard Business School.
- He later graduated from the Unification Theological Seminary as the Valedictorian of his class with a Masters in Religious Education.
- An Olympic athlete at a young age, he competed in both the Seoul and Barcelona Olympics as a member of the Korean Equestrian team.
- He is a successful entrepreneur, starting several successful businesses-one of which achieved inclusion in Inc. Magazine’s list of 500 fastest growing private companies in America three years in row.
- He is the award-winning author of “Korean Dream”-a national best-seller in the USA and Korea that lays out the vision and comprehensive approach for a unified Korean nation.
- He is the originator and driving force behind the formation of Action for Korea United (AKU) which is the largest grass-roots movement in the history of Korea-now with over 1,000 NGOs and millions of supporters.
- He is well known for his philanthropic efforts, founding and supporting a number of international non-profit and civic organizations.
- Currently, he and his wife, Junsook, are the proud parents of nine children and grandparents of six. (Three of his sons have served in the U.S. Army, attending West Point.)
Dismal Conclusion to a Dismal Article
While his article was poor in many respects, Fromson saved the worst for last. The latter part is a meandering mishmash that often approaches downright morbidity. (He explains at one point that through the years he has been reading the obituaries of Unification members!) He does his best to present these departed souls as somehow victims because of their years of working with the seafood industry that Reverend Moon founded- but their life stories, even with his obvious slanted attempt- were really just normal lives. Fromson seems to be asking questions of his own outlook with no clear conclusion-”maybe this, or maybe that”. He muses (incorrectly) that faith is limited by “the human life span” and other such nonsense. His last words show the absolute inanity of his whole article- “It was American and foreign. It was ridiculous; it was deadly serious. Moon’s tuna was an offering, and it was lunch.” His readers slogged through 26 pages to hear this claptrap conclusion? This pitiful conclusion shows one thing clearly – that Fromson does not and probably cannot, understand Reverend Moon’s faith or vision – a vision that is now being fulfilled by his son and chosen heir, Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon.
It is hard to imagine that the New York Times would call on Mr. Fromson to do any other article- but, as they have shown for over 40 years, bigotry and hate combined can be a strong (and blinding) motivating force.