Tuesday, 20 July 2010

chilean spice

Wikipedia is just evil and wrong.  But you readers knew that, didn't you?  Not only can a slow-witted seven-year-old, or, worse, someone maliciously intending to deceive, edit an entry by inserting lies, but if another person then tries to remove the lies the Wikipedia editors, if they believe that person is the subject of the entry, remove their edit, leaving the lies in place.  But everyone knew that, right?  howstuffworks (check it out) is much better - all its entries are sourced.  Anyway, I will not dignify the Wikipedia entry checked out by someone on Harry's Place by linking to it, but it referred to the 1973 coup in Chile, which overthrew President Salvador Allende and put Pinochet in place, as "US-backed".  Whatever else it was, no it wasn't that.  We are not far off 9/11 Troof here.

In 1973, when the coup happened, I was at university (in Durham, UK, since you ask).  I was studying languages which did not include Spanish.  Some of the wealthier students of Spanish (travel was a lot more expensive in those days) did their year abroad in South America rather than in Spain (mine was in Brittany and Minsk).  One of those, whose surname now escapes me (and doubtless she now has the name of her second husband) but whose first name was Fleur (what were the parents thinking of?) came back from several months in Chile, after the coup.  I think she had been staying with a wine-grower who knew Daddy.  She told us all that the Allende time was not how it had been portrayed in Europe.  Oh no.  Not good for people at all.  She told us that "ordinary conservative people" were very glad the new regime was in place.  I suspect that even then she had no idea that anyone she might be talking to could hold a different view.  I wonder what she thinks now?  However I am prepared to say, and indeed do say, that I do not know South America in general, or Chile in particular.  I have never been there and do not speak more than a very little Spanish and Portuguese.  Oh and the tedious creature who comments whenever I say this that my visit to Mexico in 2002 means I have been to South America, save it.  No it doesn't and no I haven't.

So perhaps Fleur was right.  But I don't think she was.  Though I am sure she was reporting the views of her wine-grower hosts accurately enough.  It is always amazing to me that people say things about, say, Iraq, like "Everyone I know agrees with me" - er, that is why they are your friends and that is why you go to the same dinner parties, you Guardian-reading scum.  Which Fleur wasn't.


Jonny said...

I like howstuffworks. I also like Wikipedia, but never bother editing anything that is political, and stick to Renaissance poets. If you read any Wiki with a sceptical hat, they're quite useful, but I've never been the subject of an entry.

Anonymous said...

I like Wikipedia, it's my first port of call when I need to know something, but nothing is foolproof.
To misquote - "I'm 30, slim athletic and beautiful. It must be true because Wikipedia said so" - Joe Brand.