Monday, December 19, 2005

TKM's Person of the Year: the Iraqi voters

Time Magazine has annually issued a Man of the Year, Person of the Year or similar (remember the "Planet of the Year"?) since 1927. Formerly the Man of the Year award whose inaugural recipient was Charles Lindbergh, the award has an often-storied and often-checkered history.

Most frequently, the Man of the Year is the winner of the Presidential election (2004, 2000, 1992, 1980, 1976, 1972, 1964, 1961 for Kennedy [a make-up award?], 1948, 1932). There are great good men (and a notable good woman) who have won: Gandhi (1930), FDR (1932, 1934, 1941), Churchill (1940, Man of the Half-Century 1949), Truman (1945, 1948), HM Queen Elizabeth II (1952), MLK (1963), Reagan (1980, 1983), Lech Walesa (1981), and Pope John Paul II (1994). Evil men and one evil woman also have been named: Pierre Laval (1931), Wallis Simpson (1936, she and her husband were at minimum Nazi sympathizers), Hitler (1938), Stalin (1939, 1942), Khruschev (1957), Deng Xiaopeng (1978, 1985), Khomenei (1979), Andropov (1983).

Recently, the Man of the Year award (I'm using its initial designation) has become more of a political statement and less of a reflection of the greatest newsmaker or most important single-person influence on world events -- its original purpose. Consider: in 2001, the magazine named Rudy Giuliani, even though the President's leadership in the wake of 9-11-01 was more crucial to the nation; in 2002, it named three "whistleblowers" in the Worldcom, Enron and FBI scandals, even though the Enron "whistleblower" did so after the corporate graft had become a full-blown scandal. In 1999, the magazine completely failed history and posterity by naming Albert Einstein the Man of the Century over Winston Churchill. And in 1989, the magazine failed reality by naming Gorbachev the Man of the Decade, not Reagan. A full list is here. Time seems to be losing some imagination: for the third time in four years, it has picked a concept (whistleblower courage, American soldier strength, philanthropic generosity) over a person for the award.

This year's choice is highly curious -- as Democracy makes giant strides in the Middle East, Lebanese citizens reclaimed their country from Syrian dictatorship, Egyptians and Saudis went to the polls in the first semi-free elections in those nations and Iraqis voted THREE TIMES in free and fair elections, the magazine decided that the admirable but less consequential philanthropic efforts of Bono and Bill Gates (and his wife) were the most deserving of the award. If Time wanted to bestow this award on a truly deserving concept recipient for the 13th time, it should have abandoned the philanthropy bandwagon and awarded it to people who created history whilst braving Islamofascist depravity.

Thus, the Key Monk dissents from Time's award and bestows its own on the purple-fingered avatars of freedom, justice and democracy: The Key Monk 2005 Person of the Year is the Iraqi voter.

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