Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Three Doses of Opinion

So, I've posted before about reading Three Cups of Deceit by John Krakauer and I just finished Three Cups of Tea by Mortenson himself. After reading the criticized book, I still stand by what I said before. I don't really feel like either account approaches fair or unbiased. Of course, Mortenson's own account paints him in an overly favorable light, but I still feel like Krakauer is overly negative, especially with regards to people's motivations, as I felt reading Into Thin Air as well as from what I've heard of other books. A lot of Krakauer's criticisms aren't really confirmed. Yes, there have been no real audits of CAI, but Krakauer seems to automatically assume that those audits would return damning evidence of Mortenson's using the funds of the business for his own benefit. Yes, some schools are empty, but he doesn't say anything about the schools that are functioning. Yes, Mortenson lied about Korfe and about being captured by the Taliban (more about that in a bit), but does that mean he is trying to scam all his donors out of their money, like Krakauer seems to believe?

The truth when ardently proclaimed by two firm sides invested in their own belief, as often happens, seems to me to be somewhere in the middle. Here's a great take by Outside magazine (someone invested in both sides) that sums up well what I was thinking. I think a lot of people have jumped on to Krakauer's side because, as my friend Andrew Howell put it, we love to see hero's fall. Everyone was behind Mortenson for a while, but as soon as everyone buys in, it becomes uncool to be a fan of someone successful, and so everyone is willing to assume the worst when the person turns out not to be as perfect as everyone thought. I think he lied about the village because he didn't end up liking the bureaucracy in the first village. I think he lied about being captured by the Taliban because he lied to his wife about it first, in order to excuse his spending too much time in Pakistan, and so had to keep up the lie. I think the CAI seems poorly managed because Mortenson is an awful manager. But without him, none of the schools he built would have been built. Bottom line. He struggled and fought for years and years when no one believed in him. If he was in it just for fame or money, he would have given up when those things seemed impossible. But it seems to me, what he did see as possible, was helping some kids out in a country no one else cares about. I still wont call him a hero until the whole story comes out, but I wont call him a crook either.


Cait worked all day. I cleaned in the morning, run, nap, run, park, Mom comes home. We ate some frozen food and then played around the house til the bedtime run.

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