Like the lies told by conniving salesmen or cheating paramours, the web of deceit weaved by ideological flatters finds many gullible flies blissfully stuck in the trap. Man is a more emotional than a rational animal. We believe because we want to believe.
There is a long tradition of grand deception by ideological flatterers. John Reed authored Ten Days That Shook the World as a paid employee of Soviet Russia’s Bureau of International Revolutionary Propaganda. This didn’t stop Warren Beatty from making a fawning biopic or a New York University panel of judges from ruling the book one of the best works of journalism in the twentieth century. Rigoberta Menchu won a Nobel Peace Prize on the basis of I, Rigoberta Menchu. Yet, when scholar David Stoll revealed massive literary fraud—including finding alive Menchu’s brother who had starved to death in I, Rigoberta Menchu and revealing that another brother who had been burned alive in the autobiography had not perished in so grisly a fashion—no serious consideration was given to rescinding the prize.
“I never expected this level of attention,” MacMaster confesses. “While the narrative voice may have been fictional, the facts on this blog are true and not misleading as to the situation on the ground. I do not believe that I have harmed anyone—I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about.” Clearly, MacMaster feels strongly. But what does he know of “the situation on the ground”?
Tom MacMaster understands the public demand for the comforting narrative over the inconvenient truth. Instead of performing pop psychology on the demented MacMaster, the defrauded who ate up every far-flung word of a fictional character might be better off examining themselves.
Daniel J. Flynn is the author of numerous books, including Blue Collar Intellectuals: When the Enlightened and the Everyman Elevated America, forthcoming this fall from ISI Books. He writes a Monday column for Human Events and blogs at www.flynnfiles.com.
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