“Arabs Tend to Wear Red Shirts,” Said the Man in the Red Shirt

You may have seen that National Review posted some glaringly false claims about Lebanon by a contributor, W. Thomas Smith, Jr. (If not, Thomas Edsall has written up the basics here.)

Now National Review is trying to explain what happened. Here’s their online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez:

A few additional words on what the situation with the Smith Lebanon reporting is and what it isn’t: It isn’t a case of fabrication, as some of Smith’s accusers have alleged. With regard to the two posts in question, it is my belief, based on an investigation in which NRO discussed the matter with three independent sources who live and work in Lebanon (as well as other experts in the area), that Smith was probably either spun by his sources or confused about what he saw…[His sources’] claims obviously should have been been treated with the same degree of skepticism as those of anyone with an agenda to advance.

As one of our sources put it: “The Arab tendency to lie and exaggerate about enemies is alive and well among pro-American Lebanese Christians as much as it is with the likes of Hamas.”

Yow. It’s not often these days you see this kind of raw, open prejudice in American publications. And certainly you can only get away with saying it about Arabs. You won’t be reading about the Asian or African or Jewish or Buddhist “tendency to lie” anytime soon.

And it’s especially enjoyable this appears in National Review, which has something of a track record lying and exaggerating about the Arab world. In fact, as you may have noticed, they helped start a war based on it.

Of course, National Review did this not because lying and exaggerating about enemies is an American tendency, but because it’s a human tendency. And one popular way humans lie and exaggerate about their enemies is by claiming their enemies have an unusual tendency toward lying and exaggeration.


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