Library Juice 2:1 - January 3, 1999

Special Issue: "Truth and Lie" 
1. Seven Quotations on Truth and Lie 
2. Some Intellectual Freedom links 
3. "Risking Relevant Reference Work," (excerpt & link) 
4. "The librarian's duty of care," Library Quarterly; abstract 
5. "Bibliographic instruction and mass media news literacy;" abstract 
6. Lies of the NY Times in Jeff Gustafson's name - a recent experience 
7. Some obstacles faced by AIP / misconceptions of the alternative press 
8. From _The Freedom to Lie: A Debate about Democracy_ 
9. From Herbert Schiller's _Information Inequality_ 
10. Dan Liestman's collection of links on bogus www information 
11. _Social Research_ 63:3, Fall 1996: Truth-Telling, Lying & Deception 
12. There are lies, and there are LIES 
13. the/untimely/past  -  Web bibliography on postmodern historiography 
1. Seven Quotations on Truth and Lie 
Truth is a good dog; but beware of barking too close to the heels of error, 
lest you get your brains kicked out.   -Coleridge 
"We had both agreed that my reflections would have more force if I were to 
describe these circles of corruption in a flat, straightforward style, 
rather like that of a cookbook.  I think, immodestly perhaps, that the 
result is quite interesting; certainly, it is unlike the evangelical style 
of most American journalists, who proclaim their partisanship in such a 
shrill way that even when they are telling the truth they sound false or, 
worse, paid for." 
-Gore Vidals' Charlie Schermerhorn Schuyler, journalist, 
the narrator in his novel _1876_ 
"Truth often suffers more by the heat of its defenders than the arguments 
of its opposers."  -William Penn 
  Bolshevism is knocking at our gates, we can't afford to let 
  it in....We must keep America whole and safe and unspoiled. 
  We must keep the worker away from red literature and red 
  ruses; we must see that his mind remains healthy. 
                                          --Al Capone 
Every journalist owes tribute to the evil one   - Henri de la Fontaine 
              "The very concept of objective truth 
                   is fading out of the world. 
                    Lies will pass into history." 
                                     - George Orwell 
You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass 
the guilty.    -Jessica Mitford  (1917-1996) 
2. Some Intellectual Freedom links: 
ALA Washington Office 
Library Bill of Rights 
ALA's Intellectual Freedom Manual 
Vigdor Schreibman's FINS (Federal Information News Service) Information Age 
Library Juice Number 24, Special Intellectual Freedom Issue 
ALA/SRRT Alternatives In Print Task Force 
3. "Risking Relevant Reference Work," (excerpt & link) 
By John N. Berry III 
 May 15, 1998 
 Risking Relevant Reference Work 
 If we're afraid to interpret and vouch for information and its sources, 
who needs us? 
 Reference librarians will be the next group of library professionals who 
feel the pressure to change from information technology. Whether or not 
they undertake a new, more expert information advisory role -- and the 
risks that go with it -- will make the difference between the survival of 
viable library reference service and its slow erosion and obsolescence. 
 The networks and the flood of online information and search engines to 
harness that information are forcing a major change in the approach of 
librarians to reference and information service. In the process much of the 
innocence and neutrality of earlier traditional dogma about reference work 
will be forced to give way. They will be replaced by a new expertise and a 
new willingness to make the value judgments and to take the risks required 
to give people the advice about sources and the interpretation of 
information they need.$8902 
4.  "The librarian's duty of care," Library Quarterly; abstract 
"The librarian's duty of care: emerging professionalism or can of worms?" 
Stuart Ferguson and John Weckert 
Library Quarterly, October, 1998.  68:4 
The issue of whether librarians and related information workers can and 
should be held accountable for negligent misinformation is explored here. 
The article examines case studies that highlight the issue of 
accountability, discusses accountability, and relates it to concepts such 
as responsibility and duty of care.  It also discusses the customary 
arguments against holding librarians accountable for misinformaiton, 
namely, the lack of contract between librarian and patron and the 
distinction generally drawn between information "intermediaries," such as 
librarians, and "knowledge workers," such as lawyers and accountants.  One 
of the conclusions is that the ethical approach taken by the profession has 
undergone a shift in recent years, partly as a result of certain legal 
decisions and partly as a result of changes in the profession, for example, 
the need for librarians to formulate online searches on behalf of clients 
and interpret the search results.  Existing codes of ethics and whether 
they are appropriate to associations that claim professional status are 
also discussed. 
5. "Bibliographic instruction and mass media news literacy;" abstract 
"Bibliographic instruction and mass media news literacy: a theoretical 
background," by Juris Dilevko 
Library Quarterly, October, 1998, Vol 68 no.4 
"This article suggests that bibliographic instruction (BI) librarians 
consider integrating a mass media news literacy and awareness component 
into their teaching duties.  As the concentration of media power in the 
hands of a small number of corporate entities increases and as 
market-driven management imperatives dominate publishing practices, 
students should possess the skills to evaluate effectively and critically 
mass media sources such as maintstream newspapers and magazines.  To this 
end, a theoretical framework for understanding mass media news influence is 
offered.  The concepts of agenda setting, priming, framing, asymmetrical 
selection, binary oppositionalism, and institutional hegemony are explored 
in a survey of relevant literature from the fields of journalism and 
communications.  A teaching strategy incorporating these concepts is 
sketched out.  The strategy highlights one news event, and compares how 
different news sources report that event.  Through such an exercise, 
students will be able to recognize how different news frames affect 
understanding of the topic in question.  Ultimately, the successful BI 
program will be defined by the extent to which students move away from the 
passive reading of news media sources to a position where they are able to 
decode the social context of mainstream news production and develop 
informed and negotiated reading practices." 
6. Lies of the NY Times in Jeff Gustafson's name - a recent experience 
Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998 17:03:15 -0800 
From: Chuck0 <chuck[at]> 
Organization: Mid-Atlantic Infoshop 
X-Accept-Language: en 
MIME-Version: 1.0 
To: SRRT Action Council <srrtac-l[at]> 
Subject: Lies of Our Times 
Reply-To: srrtac-l[at] 
Sender: owner-srrtac-l[at] 
Status: U 
>From *Eat the State!*, an alternative weekly newspaper in Seattle:) 
Dear ETS!, 
On November 3, after reading yet another call to bomb Iraq from the New York 
Times editorial staff, I quickly penned a "letter to the editor." A day 
later I arrived at work to find, in my inbox, a message from Mary Drohan at 
the NY Times urgently requesting a call. Aside from getting some personal 
information, the purpose of the call was to help verify the statistices I 
used. I pointed her to a 1996 article in her own paper, as well as a 1997 
UNICEF report at She then told me she'd send her 
edit to me for my approval and I thanked her and went on my merry way. That 
is, until Thursday when I opened the Times to page A24. Below is my letter 
as I originally wrote it in all its naked glory, followed by the dressed up, 
sanitized version the NY Times ran. Here's the Original: 
  To the editor, 
  In response to your editorial of November 3, 1998, entitled "Iraq's 
  Audacious Defiance": 
  Iraq's defiance is not nearly as "audacious" as the most comprehensive 
  humanitarian blockade in history which continues to deny the entire 
  population of Iraq adequate food and medicine. According to UNICEF, 
  even with the oil for food program, over 90,000 die every year as a direct 
  result of economic sanctions, over half of which are children under the 
  age of five. How the misuse of the US military to add to this number is 
  supposed to riegn in a dictator who cares nothing for his people, escapes 
  all rational thought. 
  It's no wonder that this economic war the US is waging against the civilian 
  population of Iraq has proven completely ineffective. It's time economic 
  sanctions, the only 'confirmed' weapon of mass destruction left in Iraq, be 
  Jeff Gustafson 
Here's the one they printed: 
  To the Editor: 
  Re "Iraq's Audacious Defiance" (editorial, Nov. 3): 
  Iraq's defiance of the United Nations weapons inspectors is not nearly as 
  audacious as the humanitarian blockade that--despite the oil-for-food 
  program--continues to deny adequate food and medicine to the entire 
  population of that country. 
  According to Iraqi officials, half a million children have died since the 
  Persian Gulf war in 1991 for reasons that are related to the economic 
  It's time the sanctions were dismantled. 
  Jeff Gustafson 
  Seattle, Nov. 3, 1998 
After pointing Ms. Drohan to page 42 of the 1997 Unicef report which 
clearly reports that sanctions kill over 90,000/year (50,000 of which are 
children under 5), she completely changed the source of these statistics to 
"Iraqi officials!" Of all the changes that could be made to my letter, I can 
think of nothing more effective than this--if the goal is to allow the average 
American reader to more easily dismiss my words. Add to this the exclusion 
of my critical thoughts on Saddam and yet another peg is knocked out from 
under my argument. Furthermore, no one from the NY Times called or 
attempted to contact me regarding these changes. 
I would like to ask Mary Drohan and the New York Times: "Why even bother to 
radically alter any letters from the public to advance your agenda or to 
completely undermine an opposing viewpoint? Why not simply manufacture 
But whatever you do, don't put my name on it! 
--Jeff Gustafson 
7. Some obstacles faced by AIP / misconceptions of the alternative press 
The following are difficulties the Alternatives In Print Task Force has 
experience in getting its message out through programs at ALA conferences, 
reported by Charles Willett, longtime AIP Coordinator.  (We need to find 
speakers with a better understanding of the alternative press and its 
value.  Contact me if you would like to participate.  -ed.) 
1. The political scientist structures the discussion into left, right and 
center and accuses us of lack of "balance" because we don't include 
right-wing weirdos along with our left-wing weirdos.  They don't say 
weirdos, but that's what they imply -- that there's the mainstream 
reasonable, intelligent, well-researched, responsible press -- and then 
there are a lot of strange, marginal, fringe groups and individuals who 
deserve an occasional glance out of respect for the "all points of view" 
mantra, no matter how irrational and inconsequential they are. 
2.  The administrator structures the discussion in terms of economics and 
supply/demand factors.  Democracy requires that we give the people what they 
want, and they want what the market tells them they want, and if the NYTimes 
says these are the best books, then they must *be* the best books. 
Libraries have limited and declining budgets and have to respond to real 
demand, so unfortunately the fringe groups lose out. 
3. A techie says how wonderful the Internet is, and everybody starts talking 
about that. 
4. The civil libertarian denounces the religious right for undermining the 
historic rights enshrined in the Constitution by our wise Founding Fathers. 
5. The liberal whispers that tolerance has its limits: you can't let THEM 
into the canon beacuse THEY want to destroy the SYSTEM (e.g., Arabs, 
Moslems, ebonics, anarchists, pacifists, communists, etc.). 
8. From _The Freedom to Lie: A Debate about Democracy_ 
John Swan and Noel Peattie, 
1989, McFarland and Company. 
Noel Peattie, "Truth, Libraries, and Revolution" 
...(T)he public does, after all, trust us, as the "libraries should not 
contain falsehoods" remark (however naive) of the Los Angeles City 
Councilman suggests, and pays us accordingly.  The public understands that 
we have to be equitable; but it requires that we be honest.  They will not 
tolerate our pretending suddenly that we don't know something, when the 
rest of the time we seem to know everything else.  While it is true that 
the lie that the Holocaust didn't happen has spread in some communities 
(one reason that _The Diary of Anne Frank_ sometimes appears on banned book 
lists), there are too many survivors, plus Allied military personnel and 
civilian rescue workers, who saw the camps just after they were liberated, 
to let us pretend that the Holocaust was a myth, a theory, or even just a 
minor operation. 
If this is true, then a crack appears at the very foundations of our 
beliefs and practices in the domain of intellectual freedom.  We say that 
the information before us is inaccurate, bigoted, or mileading 
(deliberately or no).  Either we know, or do not know, however, *some* 
matters of fact: those witnessed and suffered by millions.  We can admit 
that there are some areas on which we lack sufficient information to judge: 
but this terrible episode is not one of them. 
"Librarians don't know anything, they just know where to look it up."  This 
statement would more nearly approach the real state of our profession, if 
for "anything," we substitute "everything."  (Even so, there are things we 
don't know where to look up; we surprise ourselves on the job every day.) 
Still, thousands of librarians, in libraries academic, public and special, 
are experts in their fields, and are so treated, consulted, and rewarded. 
They have the facts as well as the bibliographical references.  They *do* 
know; and we know; about the Holocaust.  IT HAPPENED: WHY PRETEND? 
When I first wrote an earlier version of these words of neutrality, I felt 
a certain discomfort in imagining that any librarian would actually balance 
Holocauset studies with Holocaust "revisionist" works.  This has actually 
happened.  Edmonton public Library, Alberta, accepted some 150 
Holocaust-related titles from the Jewish Federation of Edmonton, and then 
went out and acquired the revisionist titles most requested by patrons. 
Cataloging is not reported to reflect the revisionist nature of these 
works; _Is the diary of Anne Frank genuine?_ is assigned the subject 
headings FRANK, ANNE, and  JEWS-NETHERLANDS-BIOGRAPHY, although the Library 
of Congress lists the subject heading HOLOCAUST, JEWISH -ERRORS, 
9. From Herbert Schiller's _Information Inequality_ 
(London, New York: Routledge, 1996) ISBN: 0-415-90765-9 
                    ...(I)nformation and data processing 
                    instrumentation are not independent or 
                    autonomous elements in society. How, and for 
                    what purposes, they are employed constitute 
                    essential and defining features of the social order. 
                    In the case of information, two dramatically 
                    different ways of using it can be imagined. One is 
                    to regard information as a social good and a 
                    central element in the development and creation of 
                    a democratic society. Under this premise, 
                    information serves to facilitate democratic 
                    decision making, assists citizen participation in 
                    government, and contributes to the search for 
                    roughly egalitarian measures in the economy at 
                    large. Comprehensive and well-organized public 
                    information enables decision makers to make 
                    rational resource allocation decisions; to prioritize 
                    social claims; to maximize social welfare. It 
                    allows them to overcome baleful practices that 
                    harm the general welfare, like pollution, 
                    smoking, and armaments production. Such 
                    information resources allow leaders to promote 
                    the development of science and invention that are 
                    socially beneficial and to organize historical 
                    experience for meaningful contemporary 
                    reflection and use. In brief, comprehensive, 
                    well-organized public information enables 
                    decision makers to bring past knowledge and 
                    experience to bear on current issues and 
                    In contrast to information as a social good, a 
                    different approach can treat information as a 
                    privately produced commodity for sale. Actually, 
                    since Gutenberg, information has been bought 
                    and sold. Yet in the 500-year evolution of the 
                    industrial-capitalist state, social movements have 
                    sought to reserve some share of the community's 
                    information production and supply for common 
                    use. The public library system and the great 
                    land-grant universities are among the signal 
                    achievements of these efforts in the United 
                    In the 1900's, with the indispensable assistance 
                    of computerization, information is being 
                    produced, packaged, stored, and sold. Public 
                    stockpiles of information, government and 
                    academic, are being acquired in all sorts of 
                    imaginative and pecuniary ways by private 
                    companies. A vigorous and aggressive 
                    Information Industry Association successfully 
                    promotes its own objectives. In this pervasive 
                    atmosphere of privately acquiring, processing, 
                    and selling information, the public library 
                    system, a long-standing custodian of the idea and 
                    practice, of information as a social good, is 
                    tottering. Its function is being redefined and 
                    stripped of its social character. 
10. Dan Liestman's collection of links on bogus www information 
Posting number 7932, dated 10 Apr 1998 09:30:35 
Date:         Fri, 10 Apr 1998 09:30:35 EDT 
Reply-To:     Discussion of Library Reference Issues 
Sender:       Discussion of Library Reference Issues 
From:         Daniel Liestman <dliest[at]> 
Subject:      Re: Bogus info on the WWW  summary (long) 
Mime-Version: 1.0 
Content-Type: text/plain 
Posted on multiple lists, please excuse duplication. 
Dear Colleagues: 
Some time ago, I requested examples of bogus WWW information. 
I'm breaking this summary in to three parts.  First, are guidelines and 
bibliographies of how to evaluate WWW-based information.  Next, are 
samples of "bogus, biased, and/or baffling" sites.  Finally I'm including 
some comments a couple of which are presented in their entirety. 
Guides to Evaluting Internet Resources, some with links to inaccurate 
"Evaluate your Sources" 
"The Virtual Librarian" 
Bibliography on Evaluating Internet Resources 
Evaluating Web Sites for Educational Uses: Bibliography and Checklist 
Teaching Critical Evaluation Skills for World Wide Web Resources 
A set of checklists to help users analyze the quality of the information 
on websites. 
Internet Resource Validation Project how to evaluate web pages 
Guidelines for evaluating internet information 
Evaluating internet resources- a checklist 
Criteria for evaluating information resources 
Critical Evaluation Surveys for internet resources 
A series of evaluation surveys, one each at the elementary, middle, and 
secondary school levels. Also links to many other evaluation resources. 
Selection Policy for Resources and Evaluation Criteria Rating System for 
Web Sites From AASL 
Critical Thinking and Internet Resources 
Includes: WWW CyberGuide Ratings for Content Evaluation, Teaching Critical 
Evaluation Skills for WWW Resources, Evaluating Quality on the Net, 
Thinking Critically about WWW Resources. 
Web Site Evaluation 
A Collection of Research Papers and Surveys. The links on this page 
provide criteria that can be used to make judgments about educational Web 
sites in K-12 and higher education contexts. 
National School Network Site Evaluation 
This feedback form is designed for educators to provide comments regarding 
their satisfaction with Web sites on levels of educational value and 
design qualities. Instructions for review and listing of 
sites requesting  reviews are included on linked pages. Whether you use it 
for submitting a real web site or not, it gives some good points to think 
about when evaluating a site. 
Links to Additional Sites with Web Evaluation Materials, Widener 
University/Wolfgram Memorial Library. 
This page provides several links to sites with articles and guidelines on 
evaluating Internet resources. 
Evaluating Web Sites 
Info on performance related to design, benefits of course Web sites, 
design issues. 
Web Site Evaluation Guidelines from Ed's Oasis 
Jane Alexander and Marsha Tate, 
Elliot Chabot, "Ascertaining Information Quality" 
Diane Kovacs "Evaluating Internet Information" 
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: or, Why It's a Good Idea to Evaluate Web Sources 
Tyburski, Genie. "Publishers Wanted, No Experience Necessary: 
Information Quality on the Web," Law Library Resource Exchange, 
24 June 1997. Online. Internet. 3 July 1997. 
Available WWW: 
Internet Lie Detector Test: 
Bibliography on Evaluating Internet Resources 
Link at: 
Examples of sites which are bogus, biased, or baffling 
(in no particular order): 
"Mankato" home page: 
Tour of New Hartford, MN (check your atlas) 
Indonesia Today (good place to do business) 
New invention allows humans to live forever 
The Turtle Island Worm Band at 
California's Velcro Crop under Challenge" (1993, with an update to 1996) 
The American Smokers' Alliance 
"Dream Technologies" 
"Facts About Growth Hormone" 
Fueul, Juatta Lyon. "The true but little-known facts about women 
with AIDS, with documentation." 
Catherine Maloney, et al. "Feline Reactions to Bearded Men" 
"Skeptic Tank" 
"White House" sites: (pornographic) 
Clones R US 
(K-)Mart Sucks 
Guerrilla CNN Parody Pages 
Why AOL Sucks 
The Dysson Company 
To understand what's wrong with the above...see 
Other comments and suggestions include: 
(The title HTML tag is "Presents From Soka Gakkai Headquarters?", 
intended to index to a "Soka Gakkai" search of a WWW search engine) 
*It presents a very inflamatory conspiracy hypothesis with no credible 
authentic independent source for judging the veracity of the statements. 
The SGI is the parent organization for a lay buddist group that split with 
its former temple/priest sponsor about 7 years ago. The SGI sponsors 
universities, peace initiatives, and cultural activities, not terrorist 
plots. But someone has an ax to grind and technology to propagate a 
rather sinister theory. Fortunately, I'm innoculated.* 
*Search "pseudoscience" on any web search engine and you'll be inundated 
with many examples of false and misleading information on the web. 
*Also, the faxlore/netlore section of Barbara's Tales of  the Wooden 
Spoon has some interesting examples of fiction passed as fact on the 
*A Holocaust revisionist site: 
              MSNBC apologizes for error 
              in Michelle Kwan news bulletin 
              MSNBC apologizes for an error that may have 
              been interpreted to state that U.S. figure skater 
              Michelle Kwan was not American. The error 
              appeared briefly in a scrolling marquee during 
              coverage of the Winter Olympics and was 
              corrected quickly. However, the marquee was 
              picked up by MSNBC's push technology, News 
              Alert. So to some, it might have appeared the 
              error was on the site for a longer period or was 
              not corrected. MSNBC apologizes for the 
              bulletin's wording. 
*   A few years ago, either on this list or Reflib-l, someone posted a 
study of the sites that had Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" 
speech. This was shortly before the million man march on Washington, 
  Of the 130+ sites found, _none_ of them had the speech that Martin 
Luther King actually gave. What they had were printed copies of the 
speech that were handed out before his speech, and of course, he 
changed the speech as he got going. So the speeches were not exactly 
as he had given them. Some of the sites had obviously been copied 
from texts,and numerous typographical errors, syntax dropping and 
additions/deletions from the body of the speech were also evident. 
Some changes were made purposefully, but most were simply boo-boos 
made by sincere people who did not re-check their typing. 
  Also, some mistakes were obvious in several sites, indicating that 
some copies were copied and re-copied without proofreading. The same 
mistakes were copied again and again. 
  The end results, as I recall, was that no site found out of the 
130+ had the complete speech that MLK actually gave. Almost all the 
rest had a few to many mistakes in the text. None were as good as 
even a half-hearted printed biography that would noramlly go through 
a printer and proofreader, not to mention double checking of the 
text, before printing. 
  Sorry, I can't remember who did this research, but you should be 
able to check the archives and find the source. As far as I recall, 
the information was only published on the Internet on one of the 
library forums. It was a good post, with quantitative as well as 
qualitative data. 
 Good luck. 
> *A few years ago, either on this list or Reflib-l, someone posted a 
> study of the sites that had Martin Luther King's "I Have a 
> Dream" speech. This was shortly before the million man march on Washington, 
> DC. 
>     The person who reported that info was Noel Anderson from the Univ. of 
> Texas at Arlington <n.anderson[at]> 
>     Unfortunately, in his zeal to debunk the myths of which sources 
> did not carry the complete, unadulterated text, he FORGOT to tell folks on 
> a)  How he obtained a copy of the unabridged, unedited version 
>     (he forgot to share the source list with the LIBREF-L readers) 
> b)  How he knows that particular source was accurate 
>     (did he verify the discrepancies himself, or did he rely on other 
> research) 
>     I remember this vividly, since I was the only person who reminded 
> him that he forgot to spell these things out, when he debunked the 100+ 
> sources that others refered to. 
What I find most often are misattributed quotes.  For example, there 
is a long quote about success and failure which is often attributed 
to Nelson Mandela's inaugural address.  I had occasion to research 
the citation for a patron who wanted to include it in a book.  She 
had gotten it on a mimeo'd sheet at church.  I found the quote, 
attributed to Mandela, on innumerable websites, even though I had 
read the text of his inaugural address in "Vital Speeches" and knew 
that it was not in there.  Finally, I found a website that correctly 
attributed the quote to Marianne Williamson in _Return to Love_, and 
was able to verify it in our copy of the book.  Likewise, there are 
still a lot of sites out there which have the infamous "Kurt 
Vonnegut" MIT commencement address. 
*My favorite has been drastically edited. The New Zealand Wool Association had 
a very professional looking "medical advice" site advocating wall-to-wall 
woolen carpeting and other products for children with allergies. They claimed 
that dust mites were so attracted to the wool, they'd never let go. The 
Association's name was at the bottom of the screen in a font so tiny that we 
had to enlarge the screen to read it. 
*Last summer one of my colleagues at another Twin City private college 
found a diet plan on the web called the Mayo Diet.  He assumed that with a 
name like that, it had come from the renown Mayo Clinic.  Bad assumption. 
The diet worked, but when he called the Mayo Clinic to see how to keep off 
theweight he had lost, they said they had never heard of the Mayo Diet and 
it had no connection with them in any way.  This is one example he uses when 
he talks to classes about using the internet with caution. 
  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  - 
(Thanks Dan, but one question: how do we recognize a LACK of bias, really?) 
11. _Social Research_ 63:3, Fall 1996: Truth-Telling, Lying & Deception 
"Professional Liars" 
Ryan, Alan 
New Coll, Oxford OX1 3BN England 
Social Research   1996, 63, 3, fall, 619-641. 
Truth, Politics, and Self-Deception 
Williams, Bernard 
Dept Philosophy U California, Berkeley 94720 
Social Research   1996, 63, 3, fall, 603-617. 
The Historical Significance of Lying and Dissimulation 
Zagorin, Perez 
Shannon Center Advanced Studies U Virginia, Charlottesville 22903 
Social Research   1996, 63, 3, fall, 863-912. 
12. There are lies, and there are LIES 
Howard Zinn, "There Are Lies, and There Are Lies".  _The Progressive_, 
November, 1998 pp.17-18 
In all the excitement about Bill Clinton's sex scandal, have we as a 
nation lost a sense of proportion?  Clinton has lied to us, deceived us, 
and then covered up his deceptions about something which, however odious, 
we did not need to know about and caused no one to lose a life.  But 
there's a long list of Presidents who have lied to us and deceived us, 
especially since World War II, about activities that we had every right 
to know, activities in which thousands, even millions, of people lost 
their lives. 
Let's start with Harry Truman.  He deceived the nation and the world when 
he described Hiroshima - which he had just devastated by atomic bomb - as 
"an important Japanese Army base."  More than 100,000 civilians - men, 
women, and children - died in this city of 350,000. 
Truman also lied to the nation about our war in Korea, saying we were 
fighting for democracy (hardly, since South Korea was a military 
dictatorship).  More than 50,000 Americans died there.  and perhaps two 
million Koreans. 
Dwight D. Eisenhower lied about our spy flights over the Soviet Union, 
even after one flier on such a mission was shot down.  He deceived the 
nation and the world about the U.S. involvement in the coup that 
overthrew a democratic government in Guatemala.  That coup brought on a 
succession of military juntas that took tens of thousands of lives. 
Eisenhower deceived the nation about the U.S. role in subverting a 
government in Iran because it was offending multinational oil 
corporations.  The United States put the Shah of Iran back on the throne, 
and his secret police tortured and executed thousands of his opponents. 
John F. Kennedy lied to the nation about U.S. involvement in the 1961 
failed invasion of Cuba, telling a press conference: "I can assure you 
that the United States has no intention of using force to overthrown the 
Castro regime." 
Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon all lied to the nation about what was 
happening in Vietnam.  Kennedy said the United States was not involved in 
the overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem.  And Kennedy repeatedly claimed that 
American fliers were not involved in the bombing of Vietnam, even though 
he sent two helicopter companies there as early as 1962, which the U.S. 
military dropping napalm shortly thereafter. 
Johnson and Nixon both lied when they claimed only military targets were 
bombed (reporters knew the greatest number of deaths was among 
civilians). And Nixon deceived the nation about the secret bombing of 
Reagan lied to the nation about his covert and illegal support of the 
contras in Nicaragua.  He lied about the importance of Grenada in order 
to justify the 1983 invasion of that little island. 
George Bush lied about the reasons for invading Panama in 1989, saying it 
was to stop the drug trade.  In fact, the United States has allowed the 
drug trade to flourish.  Bush also deceived the nation about his real 
interest in the Persian Gulf.  He pretended to be anguished bout the fate 
of Kuwait while he was actually more concerned about enhancing American 
power in Saudi Arabia and controlling the region's oil deposits. 
And what of Clinton's deceptions?  Against this history of lies that 
brought death to so many people, Clinton's deceptions about sex are 
ludicrous.  But these are all that the politicians and pundits care about. 
Clinton has had his own share of lies and deceits about lethal public 
policy.  But he is not in trouble for those. 
People who are indignant that he lied about sex with "that woman" were 
silent when he deceived the nation about the need to bomb a "nerve gas 
plant" in the Sudan.  His Administration could produce no evidence that 
the plant was anything but what the Sudanese government said it was - a 
plant that produced medicines for the Sudanese people. 
Where was the criticism of Clinton when he signed the crime bill to build 
more prisons and execute more people on the falsehood that these acts 
will deter crime? 
Where was the criticism of Clinton when he approved the attack on the 
Waco compound, which led to the deaths of eight-one people, arguing 
erroneously that it was the only alternative? 
Where was the criticism of Clinton when his Administration refused to 
join the international ban on land mines of authorize a strong world 
court on the specious grounds that the United States would be in jeopardy? 
Where was the criticism of Clinton when he defended Boris Yeltsin's 
brutal attack on Chechnya by obscenely comparing it to Abraham Lincoln's 
war to unify the states? 
Where was the criticism of Clinton when he continued the embargo on Iraq, 
resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, with 
the bogus rationale that the embargo punishes Saddam Hussein? 
Now these hypocrites, so silent when people die as a result of lies and 
deceptions, summon indignation about Clinton's sexual activities.  The 
President has lost his "moral authority," they say. 
Did he not lose moral authority when he took away basic benefits from 
single mothers and food stamps from immigrants? 
Did he not lose moral authority when he insisted onmaintaining a $250 
billion a year military machine when money is desperately needed for 
health, education, child care? 
If politicians and journalists have lost their sense of moral proportion, 
must we, as citizens, lose ours?  Should we not pull back from our 
obsession with lies about sex and concentrate on finding out the truth 
about policies that mean life or death for people in this country and all 
over the world? 
13. the/untimely/past  -  Web bibliography on postmodern historiography 
This online bibliography project is the work of Jeffrey Hearn, a Ph.D. 
student at University of Maryland who has a strong interest in the 
"intersection of historiography with postmodernism, poststructuralism, and 
related varieties of theory/practice." As Hearn explains, the bibliography 
is, by necessity, a work in progress, but it already contains an impressive 
number of entries, organized in a general list as well as by selected 
topics. These include Michel Foucault, subaltern studies, rhetoric and 
historiography as text, poststructuralism, and postmodernism. Especially 
helpful is the new and forthcoming section, which is also organized by 
topic. Although a different font selection would perhaps be easier on 
readers' eyes, on the whole, the site will be of considerable use to 
graduate students and faculty with an interest in the "linguistic turn" and 
the integration of postmodern philosophy in their work. [MD] 
>From the Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-1998. 
  L I B R A R Y   J U I C E 
| Except where noted, items appearing in Library Juice 
| are copyright-free, so feel free to share them with 
| colleagues and friends.  Library Juice is a free weekly 
| publication edited by Rory Litwin.  Original senders 
| are credited wherever possible; opinions are theirs. 
| Your comments and suggestions are welcome. 
| mailto:Juice[at]                      

Web Page created by Text2Web v1.3.6 by Dev Virdi
Date: Sunday, January 03, 1999 10:29 PM