Monday, July 04, 2011

Mad about Hari

A remarkable number of people are standing shoulder to shoulder behind Johann Hari in the wake of the recent (and pretty well-evidenced) allegations of plagiarism. Their defences fall into two basic categories: i) it's not a great crime in the grand scheme of things; and ii) his heart's in the right place so that's all right then. To get to this point, these charitable souls also have to take the least damning view of what he's supposed to have done: all he's done, they say is "interpolated passages from interviewees' books in passages presented as conversation."

Well, he's certainly done that. But what's more damning is that he has also lifted quotations from other journalists' interviews and passed them off as responses to his own. That is, as Norm says, cut and dried plagiarism. Now, Hari hasn't admitted this, as he has for the cut-and-pasting from books, but the evidence is pretty irrefutable. And it undermines his right to be believed. Look at this article from a few years back, where he took a hatchet to the National Review cruise. Hari was hardly a neutral observer - he had a piece to write about how the American right are barking after all - and some of the quotes he pulls were, well, a bit of a stretch. I mean, these people are nuts!

"Is he your only child?" I ask. "Yes," she says. "Do you have a child back in England?" she asks. No, I say. Her face darkens. "You'd better start," she says. "The Muslims are breeding. Soon, they'll have the whole of Europe."

...I wake up. Who do we need to execute? She runs her fingers through the sand lazily. "A few of these prominent liberals who are trying to demoralise the country," she says. "Just take a couple of these anti-war people off to the gas chamber for treason to show, if you try to bring down America at a time of war, that's what you'll get." She squints at the sun and smiles. " Then things'll change"...

A Filipino waiter offers him a top-up of his wine, and he mock-whispers to me, "They all look the same! Can you tell them apart?"

All un-named sources, all saying the sort of things that Hari needs them to say for his article to work. It's a bit convenient really. But when I read the piece, four years ago, I didn't doubt that they'd really been said. Now? Not so much.


Anonymous Ross said...

"But when I read the piece, four years ago, I didn't doubt that they'd really been said. "

Why not? Hari had been making things up for years by then plus several NRO writers said quite explicitly that he had made it up.

3:13 pm  
Blogger Tim J said...

Rephrase: I didn't doubt that he'd embellished something with at least a grounding in truth, rather than simply make it up. Too trusting, that's my failing.

10:09 pm  
Blogger Recusant said...

As someone else said - "I wouldn't trust Hari if he told me he was gay".

10:31 am  

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