Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

July 13, 2005

Kudos to Molly Ivins

Filed under: — Different River @ 7:32 pm

Gosh, I thought I’d never say that!

But, Molly Ivins is a liberal columnist in the mainstream media who has done something virtually no one in the mainstream media, virtually no columnist, and virtually no liberal ever does. She’s admitted a mistake — not just a trivial detail, like on the corrections page of a newspaper, but a really, substantial, factual mistake — and she corrected it in her column, where regular readers would see it, not on a buried corrections page.

She writes:

CROW EATEN HERE: This is a horror. In a column written June 28, I asserted that more Iraqis (civilians) had now been killed in this war than had been killed by Saddam Hussein over his 24-year rule. WRONG. Really, really wrong.

The only problem is figuring out by how large a factor I was wrong. I had been keeping an eye on civilian deaths in Iraq for a couple of months, waiting for the most conservative estimates to creep over 20,000, which I had fixed in my mind as the number of Iraqi civilians Saddam had killed.

The high-end estimate of Iraqi civilian deaths in this war is 100,000, according to a Johns Hopkins University study published in the British medical journal The Lancet last October, but I was sticking to the low-end, most conservative estimates because I didn’t want to be accused of exaggeration.

Ha! I could hardly have been more wrong, no matter how you count Saddam’s killing of civilians. According to Human Rights Watch, Hussein killed several hundred thousand of his fellow citizens. The massacre of the Kurdish Barzani tribe in 1983 killed at least 8,000; the infamous gas attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja killed 5,000 in 1988; and seized documents from Iraqi security organizations show 182,000 were murdered during the Anfal ethnic cleansing campaign against Kurds, also in 1988.

There have been estimates as high as 1 million civilians killed by Saddam, though most agree on the 300,000 to 400,000 range, making my comparison to 20,000 civilian dead in this war pathetically wrong.

I was certainly under no illusions regarding Saddam Hussein, whom I have opposed through human rights work for decades. My sincere apologies. It is unforgivable of me not have checked. I am so sorry.

One Response to “Kudos to Molly Ivins”

  1. ollie Says:

    Molly Ivins is a Texas gal and from Austin (where I grew up, sort of (USAF brat) and got
    my degree). You might not agree with her, but she is a stand up sort of person.

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