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Monday, January 28, 2008


The Suharto whitewash reaches new lows

First posted 1/28, 7:57 a.m.; updated, see below

In today's New York Times (and in other papers, such as the San Jose Mercury News, where the same article is reprinted), Seth Mydans writes of Suharto, "he was one of the most brutal dictators of his time, responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people." Tens of thousands??!!! Even in the same New York Times, another longer article by Marilyn Berger describes in detail the 500,000 to one million Communists who were killed when Suharto took power, the hundreds of thousands of East Timorese killed following the Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor, and the tens of thousands of others killed during Suharto's reign of terror. All of which adds up to "tens of thousands" according to Mydans, who evidently flunked math.

Berger's article is really no better, however, since despite its more or less accurate accounting of the death toll under Suharto, it persists in maintaining a complete blackout on the U.S. role in those murders. The simplest and most widely acknowledged of facts, such as the meeting between Suharto and President Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger the day before the invasion of East Timor, at which the U.S. gave a green light for the invasion, goes unmentioned.

Today's Democracy Now did its best to rectify the omissions, although understandably, because of her personal role in the events (being severely beaten by the Indonesian military), Amy Goodman focuses more on the invasion and repression in East Timor than on the more extensive extermination of the Communists. For more on that, I highly recommend The Year of Living Dangerously, a movie I haven't seen since it was released in 1982 but which haunts me to this day, not only for the absolutely tour-de-force (and Oscar-winning) performance by Linda Hunt, but also for its particularly brutal ending.

Update: And, just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, FOX News just reported on Suharto's funeral, describing him as a dictator who "is reported to have killed thousands of his leftist opponents." Thousands!!

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