Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The tragic tarnished legacy of John Pilger

I used to be inspired and in awe of John Pilger, the Australian journalist who did so much to report the brutal reality of the cynicism of a defeated American military in Vietnam and Cambodia. He brought nobility and anger to authored documentary journalism.

Here is the citation in the New Statesman: John Pilger, renowned investigative journalist and documentary film-maker, is one of only two to have twice won British journalism's top award; his documentaries have won academy awards in both the UK and the US. In a New Statesman survey of the 50 heroes of our time, Pilger came fourth behind Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela. "John Pilger," wrote Harold Pinter, "unearths, with steely attention facts, the filthy truth. I salute him."

And now? I read his column in the New Statesman on Friday, where he asserts that the military action against Libya is part of a long war for assets against China. That David Cameron's speech on multiculturalism was code for an attack on Muslims. And then: "President Barack Obama's historical distinction is now guaranteed. He is America's first black president to invade Africa." (sic)

Whenever I see this bonkers conspiracy theory I tend to wonder if the all powerful American-Isreali military capitalist cabal was so powerful, so cynical and so murderous, then how come Chinese companies are digging up Australia. But this isn't about picking apart these unsourced and ludicrous fairy tales.

I shall dig out some of his powerful and ground breaking journalism on East Timor and Cambodia. That's the memory he still deserves.

1 comment:

Stephen Newton said...

In the early 1990s I heard Pilger reading from Distant Voices at Manchester's Royal Exchange and found him inspiring. But about 10 years ago he totally lost the plot.