Commentaries, Global Warming, Opinions   Cover   •   Commentary   •   Books & Reviews   •   Climate Change   •   Site Links   •   Feedback
"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
WEBCommentary Contributor
Author:  Michael J. Gaynor
Bio: Michael J. Gaynor
Date:  October 12, 2009
Print article - Printer friendly version

Email article link to friend(s) - Email a link to this article to friends

Facebook - Facebook

Topic category:  Government/Politics

Nobel Peace Prizes for Deceitful "Community Organizers" Menchu (1992) and Obama (2009)

False testimony IS as powerful as true testimony, if it is perceived to be true, and a candidate can be elected President of the United States if the truth about him is not known or concealed.

President Obama was humble when he announced that he would accept the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

So was Rigoberta Menchu, when she accepted the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize.

Ms. Menchu won the Nobel Peace Prize on the 500th anniversary of the European colonization of the Americas and acknowledged that she received it, not for her own accomplishments but because she symbolized other people and, whatever the particulars of her life, her prize was intended to show respect to the native people of the Western Hemisphere and to promote a political settlement of conflict in her native Guatemala.

Neither Nobel laureate had accomplishments meriting nomination, much less the prize.

The pretenders should not never have been contenders.

Each of them was selected for political purposes of the selecters.

The story of Ms. Menchu's award and unworthiness to receive it should be illuminating to those who seek to learn from history.

The decision to award a Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama this year shocked persons unfamiliar with how that award has been used to promote a Far Left political agenda.

It's part of a sinister, often successful strategy that the Far Left has used to have implement its radical political agenda.

President Obama reversed on his first day as President the pro-life policy that required non-governmental organizations to "agree as a condition of their receipt of [U.S.] federal funds" that they would "neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations," traveled abroad to "listen" and to apologize for what he has described as American "arrogance" and "derisiveness," accepted a book from Venezuala, tyrant Hugo Chavez and backed a would-be tyrant ally of Chavez who had been legally removed from office by the Honduran Supreme Court in accordance with the Honduran Constitution and pretended, deceitfully, that the Honduran military had engineered a coup instead of obeyed a court order in accordance with the rule of law.

It would have been surprising if those Norwegian judges had NOT awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama.

All the better to enhance his position while encouraging him not to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons or to order a successful surge in Afghanistan!

Beware attempted manipulation by Nobel Peace Prize judges making awards as well as proponents of political correctness and multiculturalism playing fast and loose with the truth and treating the words as "hope" and "change" and "poetic truth" as the real thing!

The scandal that was the persecution of the members of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team and the baseless prosecution of "the Duke Three"---see Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson's Until Proven innocent: Political Correctness and The Shameful injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case--showed the willingness of radicals to persecute innocent persons in the pursuit of their political agenda.

Of course, the problem of political zealots disregarding or concealing the truth for political purposes did not begin with Crystal Gail Mangum falsely claim to have been gang raped, or former Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Michael B. Nifong pretending that she was credible to win the bulk of the black vote in a Democrat primary, or The New York Times reporting on the Duke case.

It has contaminated America's political process, news reporting and education.

For example, Wellesley College’s Marjorie Agosin, head of the Wellesley Spanish Department, deemed criticisms of Ms. Menchu as “serv[ing] only to attack multiculturalism” and declared, “Whether her book is true or not, I don’t care. We should teach our students about the brutality of the Guatemalan military and the U.S. financing of it.”

The refusal of radicals to accept truth is really a huge problem.

Unfamiliar with Ms. Menchu?

She was a "community organizer" who was warmly embraced and powerfully promoted by Nobel Peace Prize judges when President Obama was community organizing in Chicago and thinking about a book about himself.

Wikipedia: "After graduating...from Harvard in 1991, [Obama] returned to Chicago. Obama's election as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review gained national media attention and led to a publishing contract and advance for a book about race relations[that] evolved into a personal memoir. The manuscript was published in mid-1995 as Dreams from My Father."

Ms. Menchu's book had shown how effective (and lucrative) a personal memoir can be in promoting both a political and personal agenda.

Wikipedia: "From April to October 1992, Obama directed Illinois's Project Vote, a voter registration drive with a staff of ten and 700 volunteers; it achieved its goal of registering 150,000 of 400,000 unregistered African Americans in the state, and led to Crain's Chicago Business naming Obama to its 1993 list of "40 under Forty" powers to be."

The violent tactics used in Guatemala would not have worked in Chicago.

Obama allied with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a subversive, corrupt, criminal organization. Understandably (but unacceptably), he grossly misrepresented his involvement with ACORN before he became a presidential candidate and its illicit involvement with his presidential campaign.

Ms. Menchu is an indigenous Guatemalan peasant woman. She attained international prominence at 24 and a Nobel Prize at 33 as a result of the publication, promotion and general uncritical acceptance of the moving personal account of her life set forth so passionately and persuasively under the apparently autobiographical title, I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala.

Released in 1983, the book supposedly detailed the violence and suffering inflicted on Ms. Menchu and her family as well as other indigenous Guatemalans during Guatemala’s long civil war. It put all blame for the violence on government forces. As David Stoll wrote in Roberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans, “With its noble Indians and evil landlords, ancestral ethnic hatred and revolutionary martyrdom, [it] became a deeply influential portrait of the violence in Guatemala.”

The Menchu story was that her eldest brother Felipe died as a result of inhaling pesticide sprayed from a plane while he was working on a coffee plantation (Chapter VII), her older brother Nicolas died of malnutrition as she watched (Chapter VII), her younger brother Petrocinio was tortured and finally burned to death in a village public square in her presence and the presence of her parents, other siblings and the community on September 24, 1979 (Chapter XXIV), her father was burned to death while occupying the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala on January 31, 1980, in order to make the plight of indigenous Guatemalans internationally known (Chapter XXV), and her mother was kidnapped on April 19, 1980, raped and tortured to death (Chapter XXVII).

The award to Ms. Menchu of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize (and the election of ACORN-backed Bill Clinton as President of the United States in the same year) led to the United Nations-brokered resolution of Guatemala’s civil war in 1996 on favorable terms to the rebels and Ms. Menchu's return to Guatemala.

Like presidential candidate Obama, Bobel Peace Prize nominee Ms. Menchu was not scrutinized in a timely fashion.

Like him, she should have been.

Ms. Menchu admitted that her “commitment” to the struggle of her people “knows no boundaries nor limits” (Burgos-Debray, Elisabeth, Ed., I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala, p. 247).

Ms. Menchu’s Spanish/English translator Ann Wright noted that Menchu was a woman on “a mission” who “want[s] us to understand and react” (id).

But I, Rigoberta Menchu generally was received with great sympathy instead of any suspicion and was supported without having to substantiate.

Does that remind you of one of the 2008 major party presidential candidates?

Ms. Menchu’s interviewer and editor, Elisabeth Burgos-Debray, was a Paris-trained Venezuelan anthropologist with a leftist political agenda. She noted in the preface to I, Rigoberta Menchuthat it is “a highly mediated work” (Kay B. Warren, Indigenous Movements and Their Critics: Pan-Maya Activism).It was the composite product of a number of activists with the same political goal: overthrowing the Guatemalan government. The focus was on Ms. Menchu’s life, but the book was written in order to portray the Guatemalan government as inhuman and thereby to make it a pariah around the world, so that the Ms. Menchu’s sensational story was publicly challenged, based on extensive research by an unlikely critic, David Stoll, an anthropologist at Middlebury College.

Stoll “consider[ed] himself a critic from the left.” Until 1987, Stoll “had no reason to doubt the veracity of I, Rigoberta Menchu” and “the most important point of the book for most readers”—“[w]hat [Menchu] said about the Guatemalan army”—“rang true” to him.

For Stoll, however, “[a]n unimportant discrepancy” with respect to how Ms. Menchu’s brother Petrocinio had died that he learned of while visiting Guatemala eventually became “the first sign of a more significant one: the considerable gap between the voice of revolutionary commitment incarnated by [Ms. Menchu] and the [Guatemalan] peasant voices [he] was listening to.” Stoll put aside his own political preferences and concluded that “[t]he important point” was that at “critical junctures” I, Rigoberta Menchu was “not the eyewitness account that it purports to be,” “not that what really happened differs somewhat from what [Menchu] says happened.”

Stoll conducted a thorough investigation of Ms. Menchu’s then well-known story that culminated in the publication in 1999 of Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans.

Stoll's requests to question Ms. Menchu were treated with the same contempt as requests for President Obama's birth certificate. Stoll: "...in 1997, I sent the laureate an outline of my findings, asked for an interview, and offered to send her a copy of the manuscript for this book. There was no reply. To a second letter by certified mail, the head of [her] New York office responded that [Menchu] was too busy for an interview."

Anyone surprised?

Too late to affect the granting of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize or the Guatemalan "peace" agreement, Stoll demonstrated that key details of Menchu’s story were false. But he blamed Menchu’s mentors and did not condemn her, because he believed that she had told a story that he believed to be “poetically” true, and the suffering to which she and her people actually had been subjected surely constituted a reasonable explanation, if not full justification, for her misrepresentations.

That was too much for the Far Left and too little for those who want the whole truth. Stoll was attacked for his efforts by both left and right, with leftists condemning him as “an apologist for the political right out to undermine a great symbol of peasant liberation” and rightists outraged by his claim to be attempting to “modify but not change how we look at Guatemala.” Calvin Reid, “Nobel winner rejects ‘unjust’ allegations that she lied.” Publishers Weekly. 246(10):20. Mar. 8, 1999.

On December 15, 1998, The New York Times reported Stoll’s research and conclusions as a front page story and then Stephen Schwartz wrote a Wall Street Journal article entitled “A Nobel Prize for Lying”, using Stoll’s research to vindicate his own earlier opinion of Ms. Menchu as deplorable and dangerous. A storm of controversy ensued over whether Menchu’s account of her life was exaggerated and/or partly fabricated and, if so, how significant such exaggeration and/or partial fabrication was in the exigent circumstances that had confronted Menchu.

The Truth: It contained a number of demonstrable falsehoods designed to achieve a political result regardless of the truth.

I, Rigoberta Menchu purports to be a “testimony” of “personal experience” and claims that Ms. Menchu's story is "the story of all poor Guatemalans."

Chapter XXIV is titled "THE TORTURE AND DEATH OF HER LITTLE BROTHER, BURNT ALIVE IN FRONT OF MEMBERS OF THEIR FAMILIES AND THE COMMUNITY." "It was in 1979, I remember, that my younger brother died, the first person in my family to be tortured," the chapter began. Ms. Menchu observed that "[i]t's an unbelievable tale," then deftly proceeded to make it seem not only plausible, but irrefutable.

But it was a lie.

After I, Rigoberta Menchu appeared, Ms. Menchu soon became the “centerpiece” of “When the Mountains Tremble,” a documentary about life in Guatemala and United States-Guatemala relations, testifying “about her own radicalization as a result of the deaths of her two brothers and her father” (Canby, New York Times) In 1985, The New York Times reviewed I, Rigoberta Menchu, describing it as a “compelling” “first-person account of the radicalization of a young Quiche Indian woman in a land where Indians are in the majority but do not rule."

The Nobel Committee's brief biography of Menchu accompanying the press release dutifully stated: "In 1979...., her brother was arrested, tortured and killed by the army."

That's false.

On December 15, 1998, New York Times published a special report, headlined “Tarnished Laureate.” It reported that “key details” of Ms. Menchu’s “wrenching tale of violence, destruction, misery and exploitation as moving and disturbing as a Victor Hugo novel” were “untrue, according to a new book….[b]ased on nearly a decade of interviews with more than 120 people and archival research” by “the anthropologist, David Stoll.” It noted that interviews conducted by a New York Times reporter with “[r]elatives, neighbors, friends and former classmates of Rigoberta Menchu, including an older brother and a half sister and four Roman Catholic nuns who educated and sheltered her…” Based on those interviews, The New York Times announced:

"The land dispute central to the book was a long and bitter family feud that pitted [Menchu’s] father against his in-laws, and not a battle against wealthy landowners of European descent who manipulated Government agencies into trying to drive her father and other Indian peasants off unclaimed land that they had cleared and farmed.

"A younger brother whom Ms. Menchu says she saw die of starvation never existed, while a second, whose suffering she says she and her parents were forced to watch as he was being burned alive by army troops, was killed in entirely different circumstances when the family was not present.

"Contrary to Ms. Menchu’s assertion in the first page of her book that 'I never went to school' and could not speak Spanish or read or write until shortly before she dictated the text of 'I, Rigoberta Menchu,' she in fact received the equivalent of a middle-school education as a scholarship student at two prestigious private boarding schools operated by Roman Catholic nuns.

"Because she spent much of her youth in the boarding schools, it is extremely unlikely that she could have worked as an underground political organizer and spent up to eight months a year laboring on coffee and cotton plantations, as she describes in great detail in her book."

In addition, it was reported that during an interview in September Ms. Menchu had repeatedly declined to respond to “the discrepancies the Stoll manuscript raises” while professing to be “proud of the book,” describing it as “part of the historical memory and patrimony of Guatemala,” and “dismissing any criticism as part of a racist political agenda intended to gain attention and publicity.”

Imagine that: playing the race card!

The New York Times erred. Ms. Menchu actually claimed to be younger than two brothers whom she claimed to have watched die from lack of food when al of them were at the fincas [plantations]. It turned out that she had two older brothers named Nicolas, one of whom was alive. However, even if that other Nicolas did die of malnutrition, Menchu’s representation that she 'saw' him 'die from lack of food when we were down on the fincas” is false. The deceased Nicolas died long before she was born. And the second brother whom Menchu claimed to have watched die of malnutrition appears to be imaginary.

Stephen Schwartz, in “A Nobel Prize for Lying," concluded from Stall’s research that I, Rigoberta Menchu was a “hoax”, “fakery”, “imposture” and “chicanery." He flatly stated that Menchu had been “exposed as a liar” instead of “a child agricultural laborer who couldn’t speak or write Spanish until adulthood” whose family “had been dispossessed from its land by white oppressors” and who lost one brother to “starvation” and had another “burn[ed] alive…at the hands of the Guatemalan military” that she pretended to be. Schwartz noted that I, Rigoberta Menchu had received “such acclaim that it appears in the literature, political science and anthropology curricula of many U.S. universities” and “inspired at least four children’s books, in which she is presented as a role model.” He predicted that, the truth notwithstanding, Ms. Menchu's book would remain required reading, because “Menchu’s acolytes” sitting “comfortably…on U.S. university campuses and the boards of Scandinavian academies…aren’t likely to hold themselves accountable for their complicity in her deceit.” Schwartz referred to the view of Menchu’s “promoters” that Menchu’s “ tale” is “a morality play about the genocide of indigenous peoples at the hands of white invaders” and their assertion that “the ‘higher truths’ they believe in are ultimately more important than the facts.”

What was “the most troubling feature of Ms. Menchu’s misadventure,” Schwartz emphatically stated, was “the deliberate use of lies to advance the agenda of the militant left.” And what was “[t]he worst aspect of such deception” was “that it obscures the real history of societies like Guatemala.” Schwartz was distressed with a New York Times editorial opining that “Menchu’s lies were ultimately of small account next to the “criminal oppression of indigenous peoples in Guatemala” and a member of the Nobel committee dismissing Stoll’s revelations of Ms. Menchu’s “mendacity” with the comment that “all autobiographies embellish to a greater or lesser extent.” In Schwartz’ opinion, “[t]he transformation of a squalid dispute between family members over a parcel of land into a drama of indigenous victims and evil invaders involves much more than the benign recycling of apocrypha into slogans,” “feeds dangerous illusions,” and “creates easy pretexts for violence.”

Stoll declined to call Ms. Menchu a liar, but his book, Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans, strongly supports the use of that epithet. According to it,

(1) Menchu “drastically revised the prewar experience of her village to suit the needs of the revolutionary organization she had joined” by transforming “a tragic convergence of military moves and local vendettas” into “a popular movement that, at least in her area, never existed.”

(2) The land dispute that Menchu described in I, Rigoberta actually was a family dispute.

(3) Menchu’s version of the deaths of two of her brothers was misleading.

(4) Menchu was not the illiteral Indian she posed as, but much better educated and more privileged that she pretended to be.

(5) Menchu “never worked on plantations.”

Stoll reported that he heard the first two hours of the tapes on which I, Rigoberta Menchu was based, and his account of what is on those tapes indicates that Menchu was fabricating from the start of her interview by Burgos-Debray:

Apparently a "calm voice" works for radicals like Ms. Menchu!

Stoll: "In the first two hours of tape, I heard little prompting from Elisabeth. Her opening question is simply: ‘Your life, how is the life of the indigena?’ Her only questions are to clarify details. Never does Elisabeth raise new subjects, change the direction of the interview, or prod a reluctant subject into continuing. As for Rigoberta, she begins with the famous opening lines of the published text: how this is not just her life but the life of all poor Guatemalans; how she grew up without school, on the fincas of the coast, where she worked up to eight months a year. From the start of the session, Rigoberta is creating a persona for herself as a Guatemalan everywoman, with little prompting from her interviewer. Upon hearing my findings, such as the likelihood that Rigoberta never worked on fincas as a child, Elisabeth recalled how convincingly her interlocutor detailed life there, such as how you have to pick the berries off a coffee tree ('like caring for a wounded person'). No, Elisabeth told me, she never doubted Rigoberta’s story. After listening to the first two hours, I could understand why. Rigoberta was utterly convincing. Under the spell of that calm voice, I, too, would have believed everything she said."

How many people have been "under the spell of" President Obama's "calm voice"?

Even if Ms. Menchu’s story is mostly literally true, or “poetically true,” or “metaphorically true," or an important “political truth,” she is not absolved from responsibility for deliberate deception by the argument that she felt fully justified in transcending factuality.

As Danilo Rodriguez, a Guatemalan political commentator and Menchu admirer wrote shortly after Stoll’s research was reported in The New York Times:

"The problem of truth: to attempt to behave according to one’s own truth is a human trait, a need for human coexistence, and a condition for credibility among politicians and public personalities. Lies, on the contrary, and hiding information, always turn against those who practice that behavior. The truth is slow, but it always comes out. The situation of those who lie and persist in lying leads to further difficulties….

"In Rigoberta’s case, if her testimonial has equivocal data or falsehoods, they should be admitted publicly. It will only make her bigger than she already is. Could she ever stop being the person deserving of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize?"

Stoll's mistake is believing that a deceiver ever could be.

The New York Times likewise tried to minimize the significance of Ms. Menchu's deceitfulness.

Times: "In a war between unequals, especially when the more powerful side is rampantly duplicitous, we expect the truth will be on the side of the innocent. Ms. Menchu has clearly chosen what might generously be called 'representative' truth, where the sufferings of a people are conflated in the tale of an individual life. Her achievement has been diminished because she altered the truth, perhaps merely in order to make her story more emblematic. That sad fact mitigates none of the crimes committed against Guatemalan Indians. Testimony is the people’s history, but it is only as powerful as it is true (Editorial, “Blunting the Hard Edge of Truth”).

False testimony IS as powerful as true testimony, if it is perceived to be true, and a candidate can be elected President of the United States if the truth about him is not known or concealed.

History is replete with examples of the power of the big lie. Plainly, the Nobel Committee was captivated by the stirring Menchu story, and the falsehoods in it helped Ms. Menchu win a Nobel her claims as fact and viewed the Guatemalan government's contentions as unworthy of belief.

That biography seems to be designed to lead an uninformed reader to believe that in 1980 the savage Guatemalan authorities burned the Spanish Embassy where Ms. Menchu's father was staying as an honored guest of the Spanish Ambassador, rather than one of a group of trespassers who had seized control of the Embassy and were holding the Ambassador and others, including prominent Guatemalans, hostage, in order to gain attention for their cause, and thereby murdered a paragon of virtue like Menchu’s father out of sheer perverseness. In addition to him, a former Guatemalan Vice President, a former Guatemalan Foreign Minister and the Spanish Ambassador's Secretary were among the dozens who perished.

The Nobel announcement simply said that Ms. Menchu's father was "staying" at the Spanish Embassy when he was killed.

As Stoll observed:

“A careful look at how the fire started will suggest the revolutionary movement’s ability to turn an unfounded version of events into an internationally accepted fact.

"Even though the [Guatemalan] army had won militarily and politically, the guerrillas fought on from the margins to maintain their claim to be a national bargaining partner. The more important war was fought abroad, through images, and it is the international propaganda war that the guerrillas won with the help of I, Rigoberta as a testimonial linchpin for their claims."

The Far Left IS adept at winning by deceiving, but the truth CAB prevail.

The sooner, the better.

Michael J. Gaynor

Send email feedback to Michael J. Gaynor


Biography - Michael J. Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.

Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.

The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.

Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.

Gaynor's email address is gaynormike@aol.com.


Read other commentaries by Michael J. Gaynor.

Copyright © 2009 by Michael J. Gaynor
All Rights Reserved.

[ Back ]


© 2004-2017 by WEBCommentary(tm), All Rights Reserved