Fact-Checking Teacher

by Nathan Hamm on 4/8/2004

I declare shenanigans on this alarmist article from Shoshana Keller, a history prof at Hamilton College in New York.

She has some decent points about the way the Western press has reported the Uzbekistan bombings and rightly points out the value of RFE/RL, EurasiaNet, and other online sources for better news. But, she’s verifiably wrong about this,

Because this is a state with little freedom, much corruption, and over 6,500 political prisoners who suffer brutal torture routinely, there are plenty of reasons for anti-government protests unrelated to Islam. Esmer Islamov, a pseudononymous reporter for Eurasia.net, discovered that the day before the attacks at the Chor Su bazaar, police there had publicly beaten an old man to death. No U.S. media outlet reported this important fact.

Don’t suggest that the US media is hiding the background of the attacks when there are tools like Google News available. Their amazing machines took .18 seconds to find this story specifically about police brutality at Chorsu and across the country. I’m pretty sure that Seattle is still in the US. Furthermore, we need to be honest about the fact that the beating death may have had absolutely nothing to do with the timing of the attacks (the factory in Bukhara blew up the night before after all….)

I also disagree with the comparison of Uzbekistan to Iraq, Afghanistan, or Iran. Muslim and angry doesn’t necessarily lead Islam-inspired revolt any more than Christian and angry leads to Christian militancy. Plus there is that whole matter of 70 years of Soviet rule significantly changing how Uzbeks view the role of religion in politics. But, hey, who’d expect someone who teaches this stuff for a living to know that?

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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