Friday, August 22, 2008

Keeping Chechen Refugees Out

As you read the ringing defenses of human rights in the face of Russian occupation, you may want to keep in mind this account of France's efforts to deny political asylum to Chechen refugees.

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Some of you may be old enough to remember Sgt. Joe Friday of the LAPD, who liked to say that he was interested in "Just the facts, ma'am." Bernard-Henri Lévy is no Joe Friday.

When I mocked his reportage from Georgia, some readers protested. They liked his style, even if it invariably put himself front and center. At least it made them feel as if they were there, standing alongside him, they said. But alas for Lévy, Rue89 saw fit to check his facts and found them wanting. Indeed, even Lévy's companions, who were standing alongside him, report that they didn't see what he pretends to have seen. For one thing, they never got inside Gori. For another, the city wasn't burning, even if some fields around it had been set ablaze, perhaps to smoke out snipers. For still another, the shakedown of UN observers by Russian troops at a checkpoint was not something the visitors saw with their own eyes; it was reported to them by Georgian police.

I urge anyone who relies on BHL for information to read the Rue89 piece. Why Le Monde would feature his account as the gospel on the situation in Georgia boggles the mind. The rumor has reached my ears that The New York Times will publish a translation of this piece. If anyone from the Times is reading this, I hope that the editors will read the Rue89 article and reconsider their decision.