The 52 who didn’t make it into the Oscar winner last night

posted at 8:41 am on February 25, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Last night, Hollywood honored Argo as the Best Picture of 2012, a not-unexpected outcome, and there isn’t any doubt that Argo is a gripping, well-made tale.  National Journal reminded us yesterday, though, that it’s only a sliver of a much larger story, a rare moment of triumph in a fifteen-month saga of impotence and failure in the face of injustice, extremism, and terrorism.  The movie celebrates the courageous effort made by Canada and the US to rescue six Americans from the clutches of revolutionary Iran, but mostly ignores the 52 Americans held in captivity for 444 days while their government stood helpless.

Jill Lawrence makes sure we remember what happened to them during and after their captivity, and highlights an effort by the hostages to use the film’s success to finally get some justice:

Argo has been showered with honors, and is a strong contender for the best-picture Oscar at tonight’s Academy Awards. There’s no dispute that it is historically inaccurate and ignores a larger tragedy to focus on a tiny sliver of success associated with a humiliating chapter in the nation’s history. But give Argo its due. The film is serving to remind the country of a time, a place, and a debacle at what could be a pivotal moment in the history of the Iranian hostage crisis.

The former hostages and their advocates are mobilizing for a Capitol Hill push that they hope will be the final chapter in a 33-year quest for relief and for justice. In a few weeks, members of Congress will receive a packet of information that includes powerful statements and videos from the former hostages and their survivors. Some will be telling their stories publicly for the first time. One of them is Steven Lauterbach, whose written account opens with this sentence: “I slashed my wrists while in captivity in Iran.”

The hostages were among the first victims of Islamic terrorism — yet unlike subsequent victims, they have never received the satisfaction of a court judgment against a state sponsor of terrorism, or financial compensation drawn from its assets. For decades they have tried and failed to navigate a web of conflicting legal opinions, court reversals, and changing terrorism policies. And for decades they have been thwarted by the 1981 Algiers Accords, in which Iran agreed to release the hostages and President Carter agreed to bar lawsuits by them and their families. One Congress after another has been unable or unwilling to surmount presidential administrations and court rulings that have kept the accords in force. The Supreme Court last year ended the possibility of suing under current law, leaving Congress to find a solution.

With its suspected march to nuclear weaponry and broad sponsorship of global terrorism, Iran presents America and the world with problems much deeper than how to tie up the loose ends of a 1980 crisis. Yet the dark details of their captivity and its long-term impact –  the depression, the nightmares, flashbacks, divorces, and physical illnesses– are bound to add urgency to the former hostages’ cause, as is their advancing age (a dozen of the 52 have since died).

Read it all, and be sure to take some time to watch a few of the videos of the former hostages and their families to understand just how little attention has been paid to providing them justice.  Here is Foreign Service officer Steven Lauterbach on just how desperate he was to be allowed some human contact:

You can read my review of Argo here, but Bill Daugherty’s may carry a lot more weight in relation to historical perspective:

I doubt these people will see real justice in their lifetimes, but it would be nice if the American government took more of an interest in an attempt to provide it. If Argo provides the impetus to make that effort, then it deserves every accolade it receives.


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The movie celebrates the courageous effort made by Canada and the US to rescue six Americans from the clutches of revolutionary Iran, but mostly ignores the 52 Americans held in captivity for 444 days while their government stood helpless.

True, but that’s because the movie was specifically about the rescue of those 6 Americans. The lone bright spot in an otherwise sad, pathetic episode in our nation’s foreign policy. I’m not gonna begrudge Affleck and Co. the right to make the movie they wanted. Now as far as historical accuracy(or lack thereof) within the confines of the story they did tell, that’s fair game for detractors of the film.

Doughboy on February 25, 2013 at 8:56 AM

A US embassy is sovereign US territory, and invading it is an act of war. Carter surrendered. We lost.

Paul-Cincy on February 25, 2013 at 8:57 AM

Does this need a Hillary statement..?

Electrongod on February 25, 2013 at 8:59 AM

And mccain Feinstein and Levin trashed zero dark thirty

*shaking the head*

cmsinaz on February 25, 2013 at 9:02 AM

Did we ever get a definitive answer as to Achmadinejad’s involvement in the embassy takeover and Hostage Taking?

trubble on February 25, 2013 at 9:05 AM

There’s no dispute that it is historically inaccurate and ignores a larger tragedy to focus on a tiny sliver of success associated with a humiliating chapter in the nation’s history

…problem is…now it has beome historically correct in the minds of all the mental midgets!

KOOLAID2 on February 25, 2013 at 9:26 AM

There’s no dispute that it is historically inaccurate

Hollywood is not and never has been concerned with historical accuracy.

Eichendorff on February 25, 2013 at 9:34 AM

I thought the movie made Canada’s contributions quite pronounced and put Canada in a very good light.

tommyboy on February 25, 2013 at 9:55 AM

And for decades they have been thwarted by the 1981 Algiers Accords, in which Iran agreed to release the hostages and President Carter agreed to bar lawsuits by them and their families.

Jimmy Carter agreements should never be honored. Same with Dear Liar’s agreements.

rbj on February 25, 2013 at 9:56 AM

I know we are not supposed to crosspost but for those who may have missed this one from the Oscar thread:

The fact that Argo won Best Picture is a crime, literally. The film was very subtle, but it was a pro-Iranian/Muslim film. Look at the opening “historical context” voice-over (don’t bother thanking me for having transcribed this):

Women’s voice:

“This is the Persian empire, known today as Iran … For 2500 years this land was ruled by a series of kings, known as ‘Shahs.’

“In 1950, the people of Iran elected, Mohammad Mosaddegh, a secular Democrat, as Prime Minister. He nationalized British and US petroleum holdings, returning Iran’s oil to its people. But in 1953, the US and Great Britain engineered a coup d’etat that deposed Mosaddegh and imposed Rezā Pahlavī as Shah. The young Shah was known for opulence and excess. His wife was rumored to bathe in milk, while the Shah had his lunches flown in from Paris.

“The people starved. The Shah kept power through his ruthless internal police, the Savak. An era of fear and torture began. He then began a campaign to Westernize Iran, enraging the mostly traditional Shiite population.

“In 1979, the people of Iran overthrew the Shah. The exiled cleric Ayatollah Khomeini. returned to rule Iran. It descended into score settling, death squads and chaos. Dying of cancer, the Shah was given asylum in the US.

“The Iranian people took to the streets outside the US Embassy demanding that the Shah be returned, tried and hanged.”

Got that narrative fed to you by these Hollywood scumbags?

Let me summarize: The poor poor people of Iran were ruled by tyrants for millennia, until suddenly a wonderful Democracy guy rose above them by the will of the people. Hope was on the way. But the wonderful Democracy guy had the nerve to return “Iran’s oil to its people.” And so the evil, oil-hungry US and Great Britain installed a sadistic, self-interested madman. When the poor poor Iranians managed to force out the sadistic madman installed by the mean mean Americans, it was only natural that there would be some spilled over anger, so they kidnapped everyone in the US embassy and continue to try to annihilate all of us to this day, so it’s all perfectly justified.

Sound familiar? (*cough* Arab Spring *cough*) Feel guilty yet? Are you guys really going to fall for this? Is the transparency of this misleading Hollywood-spun narrative really going to con you? This whole frickin movie was an apologia for Iran disguised as patriotism. That’s why it won an Oscar.

We need to impose more Westernism on these Muzzie scumbags, not less. And this kind of excuse making by them is just a pretense to impose Sharia Law on the entire world.

And as far as “enraging the mostly traditional Shiite population,” these supposedly straight-laced “traditionalists” give a crap about one thing and one thing only: imposing Shiite Islam on you, subjugating you, and possibly killing you and raping your daughters.

This was hands-down the most egregious Lefto-scum Academy Awards of all time. Affleck and everyone else involved in that atrocity belongs in Iran, getting the true Iranian treatment, if you know what I mean. I’d throw a party.

WhatSlushfund on February 25, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Bravo.

Fallon on February 25, 2013 at 9:58 AM

If anyone wants to read a excellent account of what happened with the other 52 Americans held hostage, I suggest reading the book “Guests of the Ayatollah” by Mark Bowden. The book is apolitical and it is written using the first hand accounts of the hostages themselves. Why this has not been made into a movie, I don’t know.

As a State Department Foreign Service Officer, I feel that this book should be required reading of all of us. However, the only people in the service that I find that have read this book have been the conservative Foreign Service Officers. My liberal colleagues don’t seem to have any interest in reading this book. I don’t know why that is. Perhaps it is because it doesn’t white wash over the atrocities the Iranian students did to these people? Perhaps. But it is a shame. And it is a shame how these 52 and their families have been hung out to dry by out government.

The book is long, but it is an excellent read. I wish it would be made into a movie, but my fear is that Hollywood would butcher it.

DoS_Conservative on February 25, 2013 at 10:01 AM

The hostages were among the first victims of Islamic terrorism

Ummm, no they weren’t. Not even remotely. Even if you start with the event 7 years prior (the Munich Olympics), there’s loads of Islamic terorism happening before our embassy was invaded in 1979.

GWB on February 25, 2013 at 10:11 AM

*terrorism

GWB on February 25, 2013 at 10:13 AM

The Oscars were last night?

Who wants to watch a bunch of smug lefties congratulate themselves for a few hours?

beatcanvas on February 25, 2013 at 10:17 AM

I doubt these people will see real justice in their lifetimes, but it would be nice if the American government took more of an interest in an attempt to provide it.

The American government isn’t interested in providing an attempt at real justice. Real justice is about more than a monetary settlement. If your son was kidnapped, would you be satisfied with his return and a civil settlement? Of course not. You’d want the kidnapper behind bars.

As long as the perpetrators of the hostage crisis roam free in Iran, no justice has been done. No matter how much sanctions cause the Iranian economy to tank, and whether they succeed at preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons or not.

Real justice requires regime change, and the American people are too wrapped up in their own lives to support a war to bring real justice. It’s emblematic of the real reason America is in decline, because common apathy breeds reliance on the government.

solatic on February 25, 2013 at 10:30 AM

What, at this point, difference does it make?

Prop Gun on February 25, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Real justice requires regime change, and the American people are too wrapped up in their own lives to support a war to bring real justice.

So, um, how many additional American lives should be deemed acceptable to lose to bring about this ‘justice’ ? I don’t think most of those former hostages really want anything like that.

mdavt on February 25, 2013 at 11:23 AM

I suggest reading the book “Guests of the Ayatollah” by Mark Bowden.

DoS_Conservative on February 25, 2013 at 10:01 AM

That is an awesome book. I agree that it is a bit long, but it reads very quickly – I couldn’t put it down, I read it in my spare time in about a week.

mdenis39 on February 25, 2013 at 12:07 PM

It’s one thing to review a movie. It’s wholly another to review the results of an awards show.

A movie can be regarded as escapism to some. An awards show is anything but escapism … it is a full dose of narcissistic reality.

Are there any two industries full of themselves more than Hollywood and the Music industry?

Not to worry. If one doesn’t like the most recent award results, just wait a few weeks … another excuse to put on pretty dresses and throw a party is just around the corner.

Carnac on February 25, 2013 at 12:18 PM

but it would be nice if the American government took more of an interest in an attempt to provide it.

Not this particular government – you’ve seen how they treat their ambassadors.

Having said that, it seems this has been a bipartisan sweeping under the rug.

You’re probably right, Ed, that this will never see a satisfactory resolution until everyone involved is long dead along with those who were around when it happened.

kim roy on February 25, 2013 at 1:06 PM

A US embassy is sovereign US territory, and invading it is an act of war. Carter surrendered. We lost.

Paul-Cincy on February 25, 2013 at 8:57 AM

Agreed, which is why the evasions on Benghazi are a travesty.

Ann on February 25, 2013 at 2:03 PM