Writing at Foreign Policy, Reason Contributing Editor Michael C. Moynihan reveals how popular travel guides like Lonely Planet and Rough Guides whitewash all sorts of uncomfortable facts about undemocratic places like Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria. He writes:
There's a formula to them: a pro forma acknowledgment of a lack of democracy and freedom followed by exercises in moral equivalence, various contorted attempts to contextualize authoritarianism or atrocities, and scorching attacks on the U.S. foreign policy that precipitated these defensive and desperate actions. Throughout, there is the consistent refrain that economic backwardness should be viewed as cultural authenticity, not to mention an admirable rejection of globalization and American hegemony. The hotel recommendations might be useful, but the guidebooks are clotted with historical revisionism, factual errors, and a toxic combination of Orientalism and pathological self-loathing.
Read the whole thing here.