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Post Gary Moore on Betes Noires, Gunther's "Inside Latin America"
Created by John Eipper on 09/10/18 3:00 PM

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Gary Moore on Betes Noires, Gunther's "Inside Latin America" (John Eipper, USA, 09/10/18 3:00 pm)

Gary Moore writes:

As Eugenio Battaglia (September 8) feels bete-noired by Istvan Simon and Henry Levin (how did I ever become so diplomatic that I, too, am not so resented?), he might do a WAIS paraphrase of the apocryphal comment attributed by John Gunther to Roosevelt's Secretary of State, regarding Daddy Somoza in Nicaragua: "He may be a bete noire, but he's OUR bete noire."

(John, Do you have Gunther's Inside Latin America, 1941? It's one of those gems whose insides seem unGooglable.)

JE comments:  Yep, I have a copy of Inside Latin America.  Gunther was one of those confident mid-century types who could say what now would be unspeakable.  One example in his chapter on Bolivia (here I'm working from memory):  "Bolivia is not a country.  It is a problem."

Prof. Hilton wrote on WAIS that he read Gunther when it first came out, in 1941.  RH judged it excellent but annoying to Latin Americans.  One can see why:


I'm pretty sure I own Gunther's Inside Russia, too.

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  • "Bileful National Epithets": John Gunther and Chris Hedges (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 09/12/18 3:50 AM)

    Gary Moore writes:

    JE's quote from John Gunther in 1941 (September 10) pinpoints a genre,
    which might be called bileful national epithets. The quote from Gunther
    that John found is: "Bolivia is not a country, it's a problem."

    This becomes
    generic with comparison to another quote, from a turn-of-the-century
    malaria-eradication doctor who reportedly was fired for what he said
    when asked: "What is the remedy for Puerto Rico?" He replied,
    "Burn it all down and start over." These creep more than close to
    the poison of Earl Butz and the airplane joke, but who was the doctor?
    I wonder if John's enviable library on Latinoamérica has this pre-Internet
    answer, too?

    I can think of another addition to the genre aimed at the Big Northern Behemoth itself.  No, it's not from our own bete noire collection, but from, of all people, former gangbusters
    foreign conflict reporter for the New York Times and others, Chris Hedges, who has now
    become--will some psychologist help me figure this out?--a ranting propagandist for
    Russia, with a regular slot on RT. The quote is wildly unprintable (so don't coax me,
    absolutely not, please don't throw me in that briar patch...) 

    JE comments:  Chris Hedges is a wellspring of quotes.  Click below for a few dozen.  I'm not sure which one Gary Moore refers to, but it's too early in the day to drag him through the briars:


    "Bileful national epithets":  this is the perfect descriptor for some of history's more memorable ones.  Sick Man of Europe, anyone?  Another that comes to mind:  the Poles say "Ale Meksyk" (What a Mexico!) for any situation of disorder or chaos.  How in the world did that one get all the way to Poland?

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