April 20, 2011

Greg Mortenson -- meet Rigoberta Menchu

Based on a story today in the Wilmington News Journal, it appears that Greg Mortenson, author of the award-winning Three Cups of Tea story about his work in educating women in Afghanistan, is a fraud:

The book also was added to reading lists in many schools in the state and was the University of Delaware's choice as the book to be read by all incoming freshmen.

But a report on CBS' "60 Minutes" found that Mortenson exaggerated the number of schools he built. It also alleged that a large portion of the revenue from his charity, the Central Asia Institute, is used to promote his book, which is partly about his happening upon a village while lost during a hiking trip. Mortenson invented portions of his experience in the region, according to the CBS report.

You just gotta love the reaction by the professional educationists, too, in response:

Regardless of whether the allegations about Mortenson prove correct, UD students benefited from the broader subject matter of the book, [faculty director of first-year seminars Avron] Abraham added.

"It was really about building schools and educating women," Abraham said. "It was a great story about Greg Mortenson, but it didn't hinge on that. There's no doubt that he built schools and had an impact. How many schools? Those are all allegations I wait to see what his rebuttal is."

Ah, the 'ol "it doesn't really matter if it's true, it's the overall 'meaning and 'benefit'" bit. Which sounds very much like what occurred in the early 1990s with another "author," Rigoberta Menchu. Menchu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her supposed autobiographical I, Rigoberta Menchu. But there's a problem: It's a fraud. But that hasn't stopped colleges from using "her" book; indeed, many educationists are outraged -- not at Menchu's fraud, but at those who exposed it. Professors, like Abraham above, invoke "the larger meaning" (Menchu's experiences in poverty-ridden Guatemala), and truth be damned. Much like the infamous Duke "rape" case (the accuser of which now is charged with murder), and/or the infamous Tawana Brawley hoax, which, as legal scholar Patricia Williams put it, "No matter who did it to her, and even if she did it to herself, Tawana Brawley has been the victim of some unspeakable violation." Menchu's "story," such that it is, must be so compelling that despite its lie has the Southern Poverty Law Center still maintaining classroom lesson plan information about Menchu up at their Teaching Tolerance website. And don't forget about the myriad fake "hate crime" instances scattered across the land (usually adjacent to schools or college campuses because the [phony] perpetrators certainly know their audience).

Ironically, as you may have noticed, Mortenson's phoniness being embraced by academia is sort of an anomaly in that he "reported" on the savagery of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Usually "progressive" educationists frown upon anything that puts "historically oppressed groups" in a bad light. (Admittedly, they face a conundrum with Mortenson's work -- women and fundamentalist Muslims are the subjects, and while the Taliban subjugates its women, the Taliban is, after all, a "victim" of Western imperialism and colonialism, not unlike how countless academics view the Palestinians in contrast to Israel.) Menchu was embraced wholeheartedly because "her" story was a distinctly concrete example of Western colonialism and imperialism, and of rich vs. poor. The Duke lacrosse players were "automatically" guilty because their accuser, a black woman, exemplified the long history of oppression against both African-Americans and women. Same with Tawana Brawley.

Etc., etc.

Semi-related case in point: A college professor responding with a "F*** you" is supposed to be OK because of the "historically oppressed" nature of her subject area (and possibly herself).

Posted by Hube at April 20, 2011 02:57 PM | TrackBack

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All of this is why the "BUSH LIED" ranting seemed like protesting too much. Clinton actually lied under oath and they had to hear about it for years and they justified it with "he lied about sex" which somehow makes perjury ok. So the first opportunity they get, they lambaste Bush for "lying" which is conflated with error. That standard, however, only applied to Republicans/Conservatives not Dems/Libs/Progressives. So now they lie with impunity and then when caught point to the "larger issue" or whatever.

Obama lies about the bridge collapse when talking about budget cuts. Critics point out that the bridge collapse had nothing to do with budget cuts. "That's not the point" say liberals.

We've seen the same thing with calls for "civility" which apply only to Sarah Palin, the Tea Party and Republicans. The above example is ignored.

Posted by: Duffy at April 20, 2011 04:12 PM