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Duke University School of Law




Was Stanley Surrey racist? Was he a coward for not speaking as plainly about the Swiss tax haven problem in public as the Surrey Papers reveal his team did in private? In the broad sweep of history Surrey’s silence may have mattered a great deal or it may have mattered very little. The quiet aspect of the Liberia problem that it highlights undoubtedly does. Exploiting the public’s misunderstanding of the term tax haven as Surrey quickly learned to do has become second nature to scholars and policymakers alike. No less powerful than the loud aspect of the Liberia problem, the dog whistle politics it embodies demean all those who harness it by railing against tax havens just as it does those who decry “welfare cheats or illegal aliens.” Banning the term would not solve the Liberia problem, but everyone who uses it must be aware of the risks they court and the lasting damage they cause by doing so.

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