'Tis the season for media list-mania, and (true confession) I always am mildly surprised upon viewing Top 10 story lists to find that I've forgotten some humdingers. Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011?
In fact, given a tally of my own columns, jihad is the top story of 2011, just as it has been since at least 2001. Not that the media see it that way, of course; they see the spread of Islam's law and call it "diversity" in the West or "Arab Spring" in the Middle East. They are blind to its implications, they apologize for its depredations and, in general, they commit professional malfeasance by misrepresenting the facts. Then again, at least they cover it.
The same isn't true for the following story, which I submit is the great unsolved mystery of 2011. What really happened in the forest at Smolensk, Russia, when a Polish aircraft carrying Poland's national leadership crashed in April 2010, killing all 96 people on board, including Poland's president and first lady?
The answers Russia presented in its 2011 crash report are wholly unsatisfactory. Indeed, the Moscow-controlled crash investigation seems to have been designed to suppress or tamper with evidence to exonerate Russia of all responsibility for an accident, or any guilt for a crime. Like a tired rerun of an old horror movie, the Russian pattern of investigation into the 2010 Smolensk crash is the Russian pattern of investigation into the 1940 Katyn Forest massacre.
It's hard to overstate the significance of that fateful flight by those Polish leaders, now deceased. They lost their lives trying to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Katyn, the mass murder of 22,000 Polish officers and intelligentsia killed by Stalin in 1940 to make way for a pro-Soviet, communist Poland. After Nazi German troops discovered their graves in 1943, Stalin denied responsibility for this crime against humanity. Roosevelt and Churchill let him, thus joining in a Big Lie; Stalin's successors lied about it until Boris Yeltsin came along in 1995. The 2010 anniversary was to be a public, ceremonial Russian admission of guilt. That those who cared so much about Katyn were killed -- and quite possibly assassinated -- nearby is one of history's darkest ironies.