Here’s another aspect to the retraction: How well the story was gobbled up in the beginning. We Americans (here, I mean the upscale, educated, cultured demographic that listens to “This American Life”) are more than ready to delight in tales of a demonic China.
We’re quicker to abhor working conditions in Chinese factories than, say, in exploitative non-unionized U.S. workplaces.
Exposes this year stoked outrage over worker suicides at FoxConn, but as my fellow WordPress blogger ShardsofChina pointed out when the Times series ran, reports neglected to note that in the city created by the massive plant, this giant population center had a suicide rate the same as the ‘background’ suicide rate you’d expect to find anywhere in the country as a whole.
That’s a statistical oversight, plain old innumeracy, while Daisey lied — just made things up out of thin air. But the result’s the same — they both fed, perhaps respond to, an American hunger, among ‘progressive,’ educated, cultured, American elites, to hate evil China. There is MUCH about China today that deserves a strongly critical approach. Inequality, corruption, pollution…
But it’s telling how the worst “Evil China” stories go down so easy at the most elite of media institutions — whether they’re true or, in an increasing number of cases it seems, false.