Over at the very hot Michelle Malkin's site is a round-up of some reactions to what Brian Williams said on the NBC Nightly News Thursday evening. I happened to catch this, too, but was struck mostly by how routine it is to hear such abject historical ignorance in Big Media and elsewhere ---and, so, went about my chores, thinking on Williams' moral equivocation for all of five seconds (emphasis added):
In his newscast tonight, "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams compared America's first presidents to the president-elect of Iran, alleged hostage-taker Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying they were "certainly revolutionaries and might have been called terrorists by the British crown."At best, Williams is a dilettante who was told by an intern that such a question would be clever. At worst, he is a news anchor.
At least six of the Americans held at the U.S. embassy in Tehran as hostages for 444 days claim Ahmadinejad was one of the leaders of the captors, having recognized him on television reports.
Williams' comment came in a question to reporter Andrea Mitchell.
At the end of Mitchell's report, Williams asked, "What would it all matter if proven true? Someone brought up today the first several U.S. presidents were certainly revolutionaries and might have been called 'terrorists' by the British crown, after all."
At the perverted heart of Williams' question is the absence of his belief in American exceptionalism. It must be a burden for some to think that our system of government and the genius of our civilization is superior to that of oppressive theocratic regimes. In Williams' case, the burden is too great: why not casually compare a man (who's essentially no better than a wife-beater with respect to women's rights and a Nazi with respect to the safety of Jews) to Washington or John Adams? Who wants to be so unhip as to insist ---even if it must be subliminally--- that we are better than the mullahs and ayatollahs who run Iran? Certainly not the smug and ignorant anchor of a major American news organization.
Don't forget: the men who instituted our form of government gave rise to a nation that respects and observes human and civil rights to a degree that would have been unimaginable to the previous five thousand years of human civilization. Yes, our Founding Fathers waged war and enslaved human beings. But were they theocratic fascists with no dreams of a free society? Were they not freethinkers and men of enlightenment and pluralism? Are they not to be judged by what they finally wrought? Would you imagine that the vision that Ahmadinejad has for Iran includes such exalted ideals and realizations?