In the halls of War Porn, there are many names. Dexy and Gordo walk like knuckle dragging giants but they do not walk alone.
Meet the Impacted Colon. George Packer, back for another round to sell the war. The illegal war that has led to the death of over 655,000 Iraqis was sold not just via the lies of the administration, but also by the 'we bleed' War Hawk faction of the psuedo left which included the Packer. This group favored the war for 'humanitarian' reasons. It was a lie then, it's a lie now. They weren't interested in 'liberation' and they've demonstrated it by refusing to hang their heads in shame over the body counts on all sides of the illegal war they sold you.
Recently, like his better known War Hawk in Arms Thomas Friedman, Packer's had to make some very basic statements and, as such, there's been an effort to remake him, to spit polish him, to trot him back out as "The Good Liberal." George Packer does not now or ever belong on a program called Progressive Radio. And people look awfully foolish when they try to prop up an unrepentant War Hawk.
In the December 18, 2006 issue of The New Yorker (the most recent to arrive in the mail), George Packer's back to the old tricks he never left.
We're not going through his whole damn article. But The New Yorker's fabled fact checking department is either sleeping on the job or forgetting the very public lawsuit not all that long ago.
When Dumb Ass Met Dumb Ass . . . The New Yorker printed a lie.
Packer's not a reporter. A reporter observes and reports on that. Packer observes just enough to grab whatever hypothesis he wants to back.
Generally, his hypothesis is "60s bad, Peace bad." The peace hater's back to his old tricks.
He meets a Dumb Ass, Montgomery McFate, who was an ugly child and has turned into a worse adult. McFate, though Packer doesn't tell you, is much more than a "Pentagon consultant." He lets her give a laughable account of the 'cold' war (one Katrina vanden Heuvel might want to demolish but we're not going to waste our time on Monty who was born a dumb ass and will die a dumb ass -- if KvH takes on Monty's loose facts, we'll link to it). He's smart enough to put her 'analysis' in quotes.
It's dead wrong, but he can say he was quoting her. (A real reporter is responsible for the accuracy of the quotes they run -- both in terms of quoting the words stated and in terms of what appears in print being true -- if it's not, it's their job to offer qualifieres. Packer's not a reporter, not a journalist, just an advocate of non-stop war.) Monty was always prone to flights of fancy even as a young child and wasn't well liked even then.
But she's Packer's vista to go to town on the "sixties." So he writes the following:
McFate grew up in the sixties on a communal houseboat in Marin County, California. Her parents were friends with Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlingherri, and one of her schoolmates was the daughter of Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick and Paul Kantner.
There are so many problems with those claims but we'll just zoom in on one. (Maybe the Fact Checking Dept. at The New Yorker is also tired of vetting Packer?) Monty's forty.
She was not a schoolmate of China Kantner. That's the child of Grace Slick and Paul Kantner that Packer's referring to but can't name. The Fact Checking department should have caught this.
China was born in 1971. There are five years between her and Monty. They did not go to high school together, they did not to elementary school together. They are not "schoolmates" in any sense. But it's a nice little lie that Packer embraces (that FACT CHECKERS SHOULD HAVE CAUGHT) because Monty's his type of people -- someone from a supposedly lib family who turns on them. (Channeling Alex P. Keaton, Monty tells Packer she's helping conduct war on Iraq "Because I'm engaged in a massive act of rebellion against my hippie parents" -- Monty always had delusions of grandeur -- some might say "lies," most just thought she was "creative").
While there is no denying that China was a gifted child and that Monty was a stunted one, they were not "schoolmates." Five years age difference does not allow one to be "schoolmates."
Monty was a bossy little thing even then, full of advice (like now) that she obviously hadn't thought through.
She's now a consultant for the Pentagon and quite a bit more. She majored in anthro and now uses her doctorate for bad. (No surprise to anyone who remembers her tantrums as a child.)
She's Packer's kind of people, a supposed hippie child (in her dreams) who woke up to reality and now will use knowledge of a people against them which is what her talk of "culture" is about -- using it to conquer a people. She was frightening as a child, she's more so today.
This is the new phase, what's giving Bully Boy hope that he can still eek out a 'win' in his illegal war, the 'culture' ammo that Monty and others will provide him with. The department is called Cultural Operations Research Human Terrain and it's tasked with using research against a people. An unnamed Marine is 'quoted.' It's apparently what he told Monty but for some reason Packer presents the quote as though he heard it himself: "We were focused on broadcast media and metrics. But this had no impact because Iraqis spread information through rumor. We should have been visiting their coffee shops."
To tell the truth? No, to spread their own rumors (which was all the military was doing with their broadcasts and their leaflets). Propaganda, the US military hopes, will go down easier with the help of Monty and her ilk.
This is such a betrayal of the sciences and anyone who says otherwise is a liar or a fool. The closest Packer can get to that reality is when he speaks to another anthropoligist (think of them as Conquering Apologists) who wants far less of the limelight than Monty (she always wanted the limelight) and goes unnamed but does state: "I do not want to get anybody killed" and offers that people are so offended by her work that "I end up getting shunned at cocktail parties."
Oh boo-hoo. In a just world, you'd be stripped of your degree and possibly imprisoned for war crimes. You do not misuse science. You do not gather information under phoney pretexts or study a people so that you can conquer them -- not in the social sciences. (That's done by marketing majors.) (A joke.)
This is a huge abuse of the social sciences and The New Yorker should be embarrassed that they presented this garbage to begin with. They should further grasp that Monty isn't a 'cold' war expert and her quotes may represent her misguided 'analysis' but they are not worthy of repeating and call for a balance to her toxic judgements. More to the point, if The New Yorker (of all publications) can't grasp that science is being abused, maybe there will be more shunning at cocktail parties?
Packer picks his narratives ahead of time. Then he cherry picks for bits he can use to shape it.
He's still selling war, he always will be. So eager is he to sell it that he passes off China Kantner as a "schoolmate" of Monty's. As a parent, would you allow a middle schooler to play with your first grader? Would you allow a high school senior to run around with your middle school child?
No, you wouldn't because in the real world that doesn't qualify as a "schoolmate." You'd wonder why the hell the the kid couldn't play with kids her own age? But Packer's got it in for peace, for the sixties and for the social revolution so he wants to assure you that even a 'schoolmate' of the child of Grace Slick and Paul Kantner can repent the 'evil' ways and find her way back, find her way back, to the dark side. (Monty was always on the dark side.)
There's no truth to it but he shapes his (false) anecdote because it fits his narrative. He's a War Hawk and always will be. When Dumb Ass Met Dumb Ass, The New Yorker ended up printing a lie.
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michael r. gordon
the new yorker