Comments on Stoll vs. Menchu

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Tue Dec 22 08:54:46 PST 1998

William S. Lear wrote:

>Yes, yes, yes. Menchu was probably attacked by someone with "an
>agenda". But, if she knowingly told falsehoods, that is not something
>to be defended. It goes without saying, of course (but on mailing
>lists you sometimes have to be explicit for some reason) that the
>crimes committed against Menchu's community for which she speaks
>outweigh any peccadillo she may have committed in print. But I just
>can't support this "everyone has a right to negotiate their own
>conditions of truth" BS. You have the right to tell your version of
>the story, and if your version is inconsistent with the facts, you
>should be held accountable.

This is something that left-wing writers have to be especially careful with. Right-wing hacks can make up any horseshit and never get called on it (though Norman Finkelstein did end Joan Peters' lying career, and he seems to have done the same for Goldhagen as well), but any leftie who gets noticed beyond the ghetto is going to get factchecked to death. As a result of this Menchu embarrassment, people will now conclude that the Guatemalan military didn't torture and kill peasants.


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