I wrote yesterday for PBS what’s really going down with the fallen philanthropist:
Despite the many alleged fabrications in Mortenson’s account — inflating the number of schools he’s built, distorting the “creation myth” of his charity, and so on — his basic message still makes sense. People are going to focus on the ancillary parts of the scandal, like the military’s surprising obsession with it (as if drinking tea would somehow unlock the secrets of counterinsurgency). Or, perhaps the allegations of financial mismanagement, which are both more meaningful (it gets at the behavior of the charity, not just Mortenson) and probably more attributable to incompetence rather than malice, will resonate in the future. But his fundamental message of helping people by working locally is still very much a good one, even if it makes no sense for the military to adopt it as a war-fighting strategy…
Sadly, Mortenson’s good work is going to be overshadowed — possibly destroyed — by this scandal (albeit one that looks like it was largely of his own making). And the losers, besides wide-eyed Americans who’ve lost an unassailable hero, will ultimately be the people his schools were helping.
There’s moar, of course.