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Distorted views

In his recent commentary, Stephen Moore states, "The consciousness of Cambodia that one can gain from relying on western media such as The Economist can only be a serious distortion of the indigenous view of the majority of Cambodians."

First of all, The Economist has never suggested, as far as my recollection goes, that its view of Cambodia is shared by the majority of Cambodians. If the BBC is any indication, The Economist's views may not even correspond to those of the majority of the British. In fact, The Economist makes no attempt whatsoever to hide its bias in favor of democracy, rule of law and free markets, biases that Moore notes do not appear, at least from a cursory view such as the survey he relies upon, to be shared by the majority of Cambodians.

Second, it is not The Economist's or western media's "distortion" of Cambodian reality that leads to a view of Cambodia that may dramatically differ from that of the majority of Cambodians. Rather, it is a function of these noted biases. The fact is that the "consciousness" of Cambodia gained by the average foreign observer arriving from a society characterized by democracy, rule of law and free markets would doubtless also differ greatly from that of the majority of Cambodians. Does this mean that "our" view (speaking as a "westerner" bigoted in favor of democracy, rule of law and free markets) is a "distortion" of reality?

The danger Moore should worry about is not that "those in positions of power and authority" are gaining a distorted view of Cambodian reality, but rather, that foreign apologists for despotism who don't recognize their own good fortune will condemn those who have never experienced the benefits of democracy, rule of law and free markets to a future limited by their past - a prospect that a few foreigners who have found a home in Cambodia would apparently welcome.

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