August 29th, 2012

The Times repeats the old lies about the napalm photo

Remember back in June when it was the 40th anniversary of the “napalm” girl photo that so shockingly depicted some of the civilian casualties in the Vietnam War? I wrote this piece in PJ for the occasion, in an attempt to set the record straight for the zillionth time.

But the NY Times, although no doubt familiar with the truth, stubbornly resists it, as Professor Joseph Campbell and Instapundit report. Campbell writes:

It has taken more than three months, but the New York Times today published a sort-of correction of its erroneous description about the napalm attack in Vietnam in June 1972 that preceded the famous photograph of children terrified and wounded by the bombing.” Plus this: “[T]he phrasing — ‘while the planes that carried out the attack were “American planes” in the sense that they were made in the United States, they were flown by the South Vietnamese Air Force, not American forces’ — makes it sound like a bunch of teenagers borrowing daddy’s car.”

And Glenn Reynolds adds:

The narrative — Americans evil baby-killers! — must be preserved. The self-esteem of an entire generation of Boomer journalists requires it.

Reynolds as correct that a great deal of this is ego-driven; it’s hard to issue a correction no matter how wrong one turns out to have been. But a great deal of it is also ideology-driven. After all, since it is an axiom that the Americans are evil baby-killers, what difference does accuracy make in the pursuit of that Higher Truth?

Nothing whatsoever new here. As I wrote in my PJ piece:

As familiar as the photo has become, the story behind it is less so. For example, if the introductory paragraph of this essay had read: “She was the nine-year-old girl who was burned by napalm dropped by American forces in South Vietnam,” how many readers would have caught the error?

In fact, it was the South Vietnamese who were doing the bombing, but the idea that Kim was burned at the hands of Americans persists. That is only one of several common misconceptions about the attack, because the incident has been widely misrepresented and misunderstood through errors of omission and commission.

The Times’ error is one of commission. And its retraction is a joke, albeit an unfunny one.

11 Responses to “The Times repeats the old lies about the napalm photo”

  1. n.n Says:

    A skewed, but believable perception of reality. This will not be easily corrected. As you have observed, too many people are heavily invested to voluntarily suffer the consequences of exposing their deception.

    That said, what is the distinguishing feature between children and adults? Under what conditions do infantile traits reemerge?

  2. Ray Says:

    You can’t let the facts get in the way of a good narrative. It’s like the Duke lacrosse team story. The narrative was, evil rich white boys rape inocent young black girl. The facts didn’t matter. No matter that the alleged victim told half a dozen dirfferent stories. No matter the taxi driver wouldn’t corroborate her story. No matter she couldn’t identify the supposed rapists. No matter there was no physical evidence. No matter one of the alleged rapists wasn’t even there. If you have a good narrative you just ignore the facts.

  3. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “what is the distinguishing feature between children and adults? Under what conditions do infantile traits reemerge?”

    Adults accept responsibility for their actions. To the best of their ability, they live by a set of principles that reduced to its essence, essentially embodies the golden rule.

    IMO, with the exception of some of the aged, infantile traits do not ‘reemerge’. A defining characteristic of liberals is the infantile protest; “it’s not fair!” everything that liberals advocate extends from a willful refusal to accept life’s first lesson. They simply never grew up and thus completely fail to grasp that life’s unequal blessings are absolutely essential.

    As without the ‘injustice’ of individual beneficial mutation there would be no evolution. Without the ‘unfair’ blessing of genius there would be no invention, art or music. Without the ‘unjust’ accumulation of private wealth, there is no pool of investment for entrepreneurial growth.

    The left simply seeks the power to control, believing that they know better. In “Rules for Radicals”, Saul Alinsky’s dedication to Lucifer “the first revolutionary” perfectly encapsulates the left’s position; they could have done a better job creating the universe and its operational laws.

    Stalin nailed it; the naivete of gullible liberals makes them “useful idiots”, the left’s cannon fodder.

  4. IGotBupkis -- "Faecies Evenio", Mr. Holder? Says:

    it’s hard to issue a correction no matter how wrong one turns out to have been.

    And yet, if you have any sense of honor and principle, you do it, and do it politely and as graciously as possible.

    I was having a tete-a-tete with someone, and scoring points right and left off them.

    They ended with a snide comment about properly using “could care less” vs. “couldn’t care less”. I had inadvertently done so during the back-and-forth.

    I acked it, and said nothing more.

    I could have lessened it considerably by noting that it was the first and only point they’d scored, vs many by me, and they had to be a Grammar Nazi to do it to boot, whereas my own points were substantiative and directly germane to the discussion. I resisted the impulse…

  5. Artfldgr Says:

    The Sulzberger’s are giggling at you…

    they PAY people to believe and then give them a forum to become ‘change agents’ or ‘agents of influence’. think the author got fired? Think they cant create an application to check for common misreported stories and “get them right”?

    [Getting It Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism
    Available from amazon! 🙂 ]

    its even more interesting if you note the sources of such misreports, and their refreshing in the collective conscience by reminding people (even if they only see the image). and see who they hang out with and talk with, and so on… gets real creepy after a while.

    for a bit of the more tumultuous recent history…

    Bleeding ‘Times’ Blood

    the papers are dying for obvious reasons in terms of what people pay them for. but note, prior to other sources (other ideas), these papers were the ideas as they were the few pipelines to know things from.

    today, we can read papers from around the world, just as very wealthy men could back in the 70s and 80s to get a more truthful feel for things.

    but there is more to it than that, something we miss when we see things happen once, twice, thrice, 22 times in 30 years… etc.. and still don’t ‘get’ that this kind of thing confirms part of that creepy history of molding the thoughts of the public and the connections to different entities that ask them to.

    most wont admit to themselves how much such channels to large volumes of people create world views that create action.

    the papers are dying because their power is diluted out. their power to mold an opinion and through it being copied create that opinion and then invest with results based on it or act in its stability was the benefit. the report was also means depending on what you could do with it. if you were low down, it shaped your ideas of the world, if you were high up, it clued you into what people would think next before they started thinking about it all over.

    think about the hate spewed towards the drudge report. its farcical. All Drudge is, is an aggregate of headlines that change over time. selected news articles from all over and anywhere by headline (sometimes reworded). to hear the complaints is to KNOW the commenter NEVER went there or seen it or knows about it in any valid way. but they all know to say something in that knowing way.

    The errors are intentional…

    there is no catching them, they will do it again and again and again, and will apologize as long as people chase after them to do so. but over time, that story will be the truth and any other younger sources will die and fade away. remembered only in some tin hatters file cabinet of clippings…

    its blatant because finding out doesn’t matter…
    the knowing doesn’t actually lead to anything meaningful. just this dance that varies in length but tends to end the same way…

    Project Censored
    According to the Project Censored official website, the organization describes itself as a media research group that “tracks the news published in independent journals and newsletters. From these, Project Censored compiles an annual list of 25 news stories of social significance that have been overlooked, under-reported or self-censored by the country’s major national news media.”

    but over time, its easy to ‘break’ the newspaper code and see all kinds of things or rules they go by in constructing articles. not perfect rules, but enough that once you notice that, you wonder how many are affected and never notice.

    want to see how far they shaped minds? lets go back to another of your threads on “art”… i wonder if we can go back, and for those people who thought piss christ was art… then explain this dichotomy…

    Let’s put aside for a moment that we live in a hyper-sensitive, politically correct culture wherein hurting someone’s feelings is, quite literally, a federal offense. I’m more interested in the blaring double standard.

    Bacon at a Muslim picnic? “Hate crime.” A crucifix with the image of Christ submerged in urine? “Art.”

    “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” Voltaire

    its interesting how the public can be that way and not see how those ideas were molded and made acceptable… MANY will sit and comfortably argue the potential merits of piss Christ… and on another day, be appalled at the hatred of some malcontent strewing bacon in some assumed attempt to affect the celebration the next day…

    [turns out the bacon was for scavengers and the culprit had no idea of the religious observances, he wasn’t a follower. and piss Christ? completely with malice and forethought]

  6. Don Carlos Says:

    Didja read the wretched, completely wretched NYT editorial today, accusing last night’s speakers of lying and propagandizing? Hah.

    The Sulzbergers are unspeakably twisted. Where is a Bill Ayers to bomb the NYT, instead of the Pentagon, when it so needs it?

  7. Artfldgr Says:

    What the Drudge Report Can Tell You About the Stock Market

    Bespoke monitors the Drudge Report everyday to calculate how many days the site runs a financial-related top headline on a 50-day rolling period. The chart below illustrates how it stacks up against the S&P 500.

    Hickey points out that the first significant peak, 21 days out of 50, was hit on February 27, 2009; just ten days before the S&P 500’s bear market bottom on March 9. Last August during the debt ceiling debate and U.S. credit rating downgrade, the indicator broke to a new high — 22 of 50 days. Following that peak, the market bottomed.

    So where do we stand today? Bespoke’s Drudge indicator hit an all-time high in June with 24 of 50 days running financial stories as leading headlines. This is when Europe re-emerged and the market hit summer lows. Since then the S&P has rallied 11%.

    “What the takeaway is, is that once Drudge is talking about it [a financial story], and everyone is talking about it, then the market has digested it,” says Hickey. So what we have is a classic contrary indicator. When Drudge financial headlines rise, the market is at or near bottom.

    And its that kind of thing that makes non paper news worth more today than paper news…

    paper news existed to control the message and masses opinions, which then shaped their choices… online news exists to inform the masses, and that undoes the “lets all coordinate the lie” method of shaping, and is a good indicator (which is what shaping in terms of investors is about. in terms of politicians and agencies of state and influence, well, not so good, eh?)

  8. parker Says:

    Fretting over the propaganda of the NYT is akin to fretting over the weather. Rain or shine, cold of winter or drought of summer, its not under your control. NYT leftist propaganda is a given. Its been 30+ years since the NYT had a nanogram of credibility.

    “And its that kind of thing that makes non paper news worth more today than paper news…”

    Yes in spades (no racial content intended).

  9. Sam L. Says:

    They believe in the old adage, “That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.”

  10. waltj Says:

    There should have been no record to set straight. When the photo was first published (in Life magazine?), it correctly noted that the South Vietnamese Air Force had done the bombing. There was also more context that showed this was a true accident of war, an understandable misreading of the situation by the RVNAF pilot, rather than a deliberate naplaming of children. So it’s not like the facts were unknown.

  11. Oldflyer Says:

    Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things, but those VNAF pilots were trained during the JFK administration. Yep, LBJ made the decision to escalate in Vietnam, but the likes of the NYT would like for us to forget that JFK made the initial commitment.

    I was a USN flight instructor from 1960 to 1963. Sometime in ’61 or ’62 Vietnamese pilots started showing up in our training pipe line. About the same time, selected (bachelor) Instructors were pulled out and sent to South Vietnam as “advisers”.

    The workhorses of the VNAF fleet were older USN airplanes provided during the Kennedy years; and the pilots who flew them were trained at JFK’s command.

    Again, signifying little; the early Vietnamese pilots were simply awful. The fatality rate during training in the U.S. was more akin to what you would expect in combat. In later years they flew a lot of combat, and I suppose that those who survived were much better. Or lucky.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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