Errors or abuses in the pursuit of freedom are not justifications of the abandonment of that pursuit.
Monday’s episode, Riding The Tiger, was wonderfully produced propaganda. It was technically better than episode one, but it was also far more manipulative. I’m trying to be nice here. Other words come to mind. If I did not have a bit of more background info from years of studying and writing about Southeast Asia, Burns would have me convinced that Diem, the autocrat, was far worse to his people than Uncle Ho. Diem, the Catholic strongman ruling a gentle Buddhist nation, cracked down on Buddhist homes of worship. Ho, the sweet old man, who, despite other leaders in his faction having gotten a bit out of hand by murdering between 50,000 and 500,000 of their countrymen, was far more a gentleman. Socialist excesses aside, Ho was beloved, Diem was despised.
Burns is very convincing. I cannot imagine anyone other than those with relatively deep subject knowledge, not being completely taken in by everything shown. We were softly set up by episode one, in episode two the filmmaker skillful weaves the story and sucks us further in. Episode three was worse yet. Those with original sin became narrators crafting stories to forever cover their tracks. Even with some depth of background in the subject, I had to recheck some of my sources to make sure I wouldn’t overstate my case because I found the programming so convincing. After spending hours rereading, my anger at his omissions and skewing of story grew to near rage. My working sub-title for today’s essay was: The Art of Lying. Perhaps I should have retained it.