Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fallows: Bogus Plagiarism Charge "Really is Contemptible."

James Fallows of The Atlantic Monthly:
The "plagiarism" flap over Barack Obama is bogus and overstated. It makes me think worse about whoever is pushing this complaint, rather than about Obama himself. ***

A plagiarism charge stings when it underscores the idea that the plagiarist is trying to mask some inferiority: The D student looks over the A student's shoulder to copy during a test.

Does any sane person actually think that Barack Obama is incapable of expressing himself? His first book was a "real" book, of a quality most "real" writers would be proud to have matched. (The second one was more of a campaign book, and less in his own voice.)

To the extent this flurry is designed to introduce subliminal concerns -- and, let's face it, concerns tied to racial stereotypes -- that Obama is not quite deserving intellectually, a flim-flam man, it really is contemptible.
In addition to being national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, Fallows was a speechwriter for Jimmy Carter during his general-election campaign in 1976 and for two years in the White House.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How you could crticize people who take plagiarism seriously is scary (since there are many others out there who share your view). How could you as a writer possibly excuse Obama's lifting of a whole section of a speech and failing to indicate that it was from his friend's speech. Where do we draw the line and what are we teaching the young people who support him? Had he simply acknowledged the mistake as opposed to charging the people who were offended by what he did as engaging in "silly" politics I would have been more than willing to simply move on. Now, however, I am alarmeed that people like you and many others are not only "ok" with what Obama did, but that you are dismissive or critical of those who think that plagiarism is a form of cheating and that it is a comment on a person's character especially when done intentionally or when done mistakely with a refusal to admit the mistake when discovered. If you have forgotten what it means, look up the definition of plagiarism and I think it will be clear that it is no less plagiarism because the original author thought is was ok. Then ask yourself what authentic and original thought has actually been expressed by Obama in this campaign--I would really like to know. Even "yes I can" is not original.


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