Monday, March 13, 2006
Facts or Opinion?
One stumbling block that many unwitting Middle East watchers come across is opinions or theories disguised as facts. Israel advocates have to be especially careful of this because sometimes these opinions and theories have been repeated so often that they are easily mistaken for facts.
Barry Rubin writes a good article about this very problem, called 'Facts and arguments'.
Below are some excerpts..
"We should not know what we think until after we finish looking at the evidence; we must always be ready to change our views if facts and events warrant it.
A propagandist is someone who bends the evidence to prove his case and who always says the same thing. How boring and useless.
"A common and pernicious example of this, powerful though unspoken, is what I call "lying for peace." It goes something like this: Peace is good; tolerance of other peoples and religions is good, people having their aspirations satisfied is good, alleviating the plight of the oppressed is good. Opposite these beliefs have stood certain facts: that Yasser Arafat was a terrorist who didn't want to resolve the conflict, Mahmoud Abbas is a weak incompetent, the peace process is dead, and Hamas is going to remain an extremist terrorist group. Yet when forced to choose between these beliefs and facts, the preference has been to jettison the latter. For if peace seems more obtainable, so this thinking goes, it will be easier to achieve.
"It should be unnecessary to say - but alas it isn't - that such nonsensical substitution of wishful thinking and ideology for being truthful is quite dangerous. We should have learned from the 1990s' experience with the peace process that "lying for peace" produces only more bloodshed and suffering. "