Jan 1 1990

History That’s Fit to Print

The New York Times is fond of running chronologies to explicate history for its readers. Often these chronologies provide a very selective version of events.

Take a Jan. 8, 1990 example headlined “Two Decades of Suffering in Cambodia”. It begins on March 18, 1970 (“Prince Norodom Sihanouk is ousted by Lon Nol…”) and then skips to April 17, 1975 (“The Khmer Rouge rebels seize Phnom Penh…”). No mention is made of the 1969-1973 U.S. bombing campaign that dropped more than 500,000 tons of bombs on Cambodia, leaving, according to a Washington Post estimate (4/24/75), 450,000 dead and wounded. The only reference to U.S. involvement in Cambodian affairs is that Lon Nol had “American backing” against North Vietnam and the Khmer Rouge — a neat way of skirting the fact that the U.S. invaded Cambodia in April 1970, a month after the first entry in the Times‘ chronology.

The chronology also neglects to mention that the U.S. has for years supported a guerrilla coalition dominated by the murderous Khmer Rouge. Just as 1984’s Winston Smith edited from history any facts Big Brother wanted forgotten, the Timeshas omitted the U.S. contribution to Cambodia’s “two decades of suffering.”