Accuracy in Media

It?s taken about seven years, but a notorious fraud has finally been exposed. The New York Times and other papers are now reluctantly reporting that the 1992 Nobel Laureate for Peace is a liar. Her name is Rigoberta Menchu, a so-called Guatemalan human rights activist. She gained world-wide recognition through her autobiography, “I, Rigoberta Menchu,” which is widely read in classrooms in America and Europe. This includes high schools and colleges and universities.

Go back in time to 1992, the 500th anniversary of Colombus? discovery of America. At the time, the Marxist left was trying to prevent the anniversary from becoming a celebration. They wanted to discredit Columbus as an agent of white Europeans intending to colonize and exploit indigenous peoples. Menchu beame a vehicle for this movement. Her personal life story purported to be an account of how her family in Guatamala had been forced off the land by wealthy white oppressors, and how she had emerged from poverty to be a courageous spokesperson for the rights of indigenous peoples.

According to the foundation named after her, “Self-educated, she has shown herself to be a natural leader of great intelligence. She became an active political worker in labor, campesino and human rights groups…” In 1993, she became a goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations for the International Year of the Indigenous Peoples. She served as the promoter of the International Decade of Indigenous Peoples and became a personal adviser to the general director of the U.N. agency known as UNESCO.

Few of those personal circumstances described in this resume, which are recounted in her book, appear to be true. The land dispute involved members of her own family. And it turns out she went to private boarding schools and didn?t have much time to do community organizing. Stories about one brother dying of starvation and another being burned alive by the Guatemalan military were made up. But she was linked to a Marxist guerrilla movement in Guatemala that was seeking to transform that country into an outpost for Castro?s Cuba in Central America. According to Stephen Schwartz, writing in the Wall Street Journal, Menchu celebrated her acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize as a house guest of former Nicaraguan Communist secret police boss Tomas Borge.

She didn?t even write her own book. It was ghost written by an ultra-leftist named Elizabeth Burgos-Debray. This came out in Dinesh D?Souza?s own book, Illiberal Education, which was ridiculed when Menchu won her peace prize. Now, it?s D?Souza who feels vindicated. But it?s David Stoll, an anthropologist, who has done the most to expose the Menchu ftraud. His new book, which has been corroborated by New York Times reporter Larry Rohter, exposes her account as largely fictitious.

The fact that such disinformation could be accepted by so many people shows how far the disease called political correctness has reached in American society and the world. And yet, despite these revelations of the fraud, there is no indication that America?s high schools and colleges and universities will reject this hoax from their classrooms. In fact, many teachers and professors say they will continue to assign Menchu?s book. For them, the political message is more important than the truth.

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