The New Republic has published a hit piece on Chris Hedges that accuses him of plagiarism — without ever really documenting any direct plagiarism as far as I can tell. I’ll admit that my eyes started to glaze over as I read the 5700 word piece, so it may have crept in there and I had simply gone catatonic.
The piece was passed on by the American Prospect and Salon before TNR decided to pick it up. I started reading it thinking “okay, plagiarism, Chris Hedges, I’ll read this,” expecting to find some legitimate examples. But the best they could do was one section of a Harper’s Magazine article Hedges said he used with permission, and the original author wouldn’t comment. Then the article goes on to document times where Hedges’ writing was “close” to other pieces.
This story was maybe worth 500 words. Maybe. Apparently the Prospect and Salon didn’t think the Harper’s story wasn’t worth of publication without some sort of confirmation, and I have to say I’d make the same call. The only reason you’d publish a 5700 word long screed like this is if you really, really hated the guy and wanted to defame him and tarnish his image. (The next step will be to consistently refer to the fact that Hedges has been “accused of plagiarism in the past” — typical Neocon circle-jerk disinformation hatchet job).
Regardless of whether the section was lifted or not, it does not take away from the fact that Hedges is a remarkable writer and a very original thinker. If you’re going to take the time and energy to read something, I’d highly recommend his “Rules of Revolt” published earlier this week, where he ruminates on the lessons of Tiananmen Square. I tweeted it out when I first read it, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
I’m sorry I wasted my time reading the TNR piece. It’s just juvenile neener-neener link bait.
Photo by Cheryl Biren used under Creative Commons license