WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Brian Williams, main character of the dark, prime time NBC satire called "Nightly News," is now a finalist, with Newsweek magazine and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., for the title of "Revisionist Historian of The Year." The honor goes to the creator of the biggest whopper defaming America and/or Americans, for which an apology is required. The judges have to decide whether the recipient created the fiction out of malevolence or ignorance. No extra points are awarded for stupidity.
Newsweek had the inside track on the prize until the editors retracted an unsubstantiated charge that Americans had flushed a Quran down a toilet at the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Then, a few weeks later, Durbin claimed the honor by imaginatively comparing members of America's Armed Forces with those of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Cambodia's Pol Pot. He subsequently kind of apologized for giving "some people" a "mistaken impression."
Now, Williams has moved to the fore with a delightful fiction that America's founding fathers are no different than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Islamic radical who was recently selected as the next president of Iran. On June 31st, following a report that Ahmadinejad might have been one of those who sacked our Tehran embassy and seized 52 American hostages in 1979, Williams said, "What would it all matter if proven true? … The first several U.S. Presidents were certainly revolutionaries and might have been called ‘terrorists’ by the British crown."
In order to qualify for the award as "Revisionist Historian of the Year," the statement made must be patently untrue, but widely accepted as the truth. In the case of Newsweek's "Quran in the Guantanamo toilet" claim, the charge was thoroughly refuted by reputable investigators -- but widely accepted as fact in the Islamic media. Mr. Durbin's fabrication was mathematically implausible since more than thirty million people perished in Khmer Rouge, Nazi and Soviet detentions, while none have died at Guantanamo. Nonetheless, it continues to be repeated throughout the Islamic world.
Judging Williams' creation is a more difficult task, requiring knowledge of both Ahmadinejad's words and deeds -- as well as those of "the first several U.S. Presidents." Since recent polls show that most of Williams' viewers cannot even recite the names of "the first several U.S. Presidents" -- and know even less about the new Iranian president -- awarding Williams the prize is problematic. If he wants the recognition he deserves, Williams should spell out some of the following facts:
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the new president of Iran, has proudly proclaimed his membership in the Pasdaran -- the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps -- the entity responsible for seizing the U.S. Embassy and holding American diplomats and Marines hostage for 444 days. He now claims that he only supported the embassy seizure because that's what Ayatollah Khomeini wanted. Ahmadinejad insists he did not participate in it, but at least four of the former hostages place the president-"elect" among their captors.
Iranian reformers -- who were not allowed to run in the presidential "election" that Ahmadinejad "won" -- claim that in the 1980s, he was with the "Internal Security" department of the IRGC and had responsibility for "interrogations, torture and executions." According to current and former IRGC leaders, during that same time frame, the organization assisted the Hezbollah terrorist organization in kidnapping Americans in Beirut, killing 241 Marines at the barracks near the Beirut airport and twice blowing up the American Embassy in the Lebanese capital. One of Ahmadinejad's most memorable lines: "We did not have a revolution in order to have a democracy." So far, he's yet to condemn the mass murder in London.
Williams doesn't specify, but "the first several U.S. Presidents" must include George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe and perhaps Andrew Jackson -- the last U.S. President to have served in the American Revolution.
George Washington commanded the Continental Army -- in uniform, not as a terrorist. The warrant against him by the British crown charged him with rebellion -- not terrorism. There is no record of Washington ever being involved in torture, hostage taking or murder but we know he repatriated British diplomats. One of his most memorable lines: "It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it."
John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison served in civil and/or diplomatic capacities during the Revolution. None was involved in any known acts of terror against the British or their allies. Their most memorable lines are found in the Record of the Continental Congress, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.
James Monroe served as an officer in the Continental Army and was wounded in the Battle of Trenton. There is no record of any involvement in torturing hostages or committing any acts of terrorism. His most notable lines were contained in the Monroe Doctrine.
John Quincy Adams was a child during the Revolution and committed no known acts of terrorism. He is best remembered for advocating the abolition of slavery during the 17 years he served in the House of Representatives after being president.
Andrew Jackson served in the Continental Army as a teen-aged boy. His face bore the scar of a British officer's saber cut -- a wound inflicted after young Jackson refused to clean his captor's boots. His best lines were in opposing the creation of a government banking system.