It is difficult to say whether author Jared Diamond writes from ignorance or malice, but his distorted perception of tribal peoples is certainly getting a lot of attention. As an act of sensationalist self-promotion, perhaps his neoliberal views so eagerly embraced by Wall Street are merely show business, something to guarantee his nonsense will become a best-seller. Such is the nature of market ethics.
As Galdu reports, though, perpetuating institutional prejudice has real world consequences, and authors who promote bigotry for profit must be held accountable. In the case of the West Papuans, those consequences include retroactive justification to US funding for Indonesian military death squads that have murdered 100,000 West Papuans in pursuit of plundering their territory alongside Australian, Canadian and American corporations.
As Papuan tribal leader Benny Wenda remarked, “What Diamond has written about my people is misleading about what the Indonesian military are doing. Indonesia tried to pretend that it was us that was violent and not them. This book is doing the same.” For readers who want to learn more, the West Papua Information Kit provides the historical background of the conflict.
Indigenous Peoples are putting their bodies on the line and it's our responsibility to make sure you know why. That takes time, expertise and resources - and we're up against a constant tide of misinformation and distorted coverage. By supporting IC you're empowering the kind of journalism we need, at the moment we need it most.