Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Brewing "Three Cups of Tea"

I was surprised that I not only read an article by the ultra-conservative Debra J. Saunders, and even agreed with most what she said on the "Cult of 'Three Cups of Tea'": 
The first tip-off that Greg Mortenson's memoir "Three Cups of Tea" has some credibility issues comes in the book's introduction. Co-author David Olivier Relin writes that as Mortenson is flying over Pakistan, the helicopter pilot marvels to Mortenson, "I've been flying in northern Pakistan for 40 years. How is it you know the terrain better than me?"

The pilot also confides, "Flying with President Musharraf, I've become acquainted with many world leaders, many outstanding gentlemen and ladies. But I think Greg Mortenson is the most remarkable person I've ever met."

People don't talk like that. Books don't lead with that level of self-aggrandizement. Unless they want to induct you into a cult.

One main departure from her assertion on the phenomena is liberalism. She said "Instead he sold 3 million books. Why? Through the pouring of "Three Cups," Mortenson came to personify every liberal conceit."

I think the brewing of such "Three Cups of Tea" rooted deeply in the American Exceptionalism. It was the deeply misguided and self-congratulatory habits of Americans who still imagine themselves as the savior to rescue others from barbarism. 

The world has always been vastly different from that concept and with the waning influence of the U.S. power, many Americans are clinging to that concept as life boat.  Too bad.   That concept would prevent us from understanding and improving our positions in the world.

I'll quote Saunder again to finish this blog:
A caller asked: How are we supposed to know a book is a phony?

Hmmmm. If the cash-giving girls-school-loving Taliban tale doesn't ring a bell, if the constant reminders of Mortenson's greatness - and modesty - don't do the trick, maybe there is another warning sign. Global Fund for Women Vice President Shalini Nataraj warned about any memoir that hails "the white savior who's going to come in and save the local people."
3/365: Three cups of tea
Flickr Image By Elle-Epp

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