What About Mr. X?

January 4, 1952 — The Salt Lake Tribune

The Mossadegh Project | January 4, 2021                    

Lead editorial in The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper (Salt Lake City, Utah) on TIME’s Man of the Year selection, although they strangely neglected to mention TIME by name. The day prior they ran the story Magazine Chooses Mossadegh as 1951 Man of Year.

The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah) masthead

Man of Year Choice Echoes 1951 Defeatism

“Sad to relate,” a national news magazine names Premier Mossadegh of Iran as the Man of 1951, he “having done the most to change the news for better or worse.”

True, the temperamental and unstable Mr. Mossadegh is the symbol of seething nationalism and revolutionary ferment sweeping the backward regions, but he’s a mere straw riding the tide. He sparked no fires menacing world order; he merely kept the firemen from quenching the flames of disorder. His claim to leadership is as negative as the attitude of the judges who honored him. History may show that the fanatic who put a bullet through Mossadegh’s predecessor, Premier Rosmara, [sic] actually did more to change world news. [Khalil Tahmassebi shot Ali Razmara in March 1951] Using the same formula, the man of the year might well have been old Joe Stalin, translator of Leninism into a policy of global conquest, who kept the world teetering on the edge of an abyss throughout 1951. [Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin]

Carrying this negatism into American national [illegible], the man of 1951 could have been myopic Harry S. Truman under whose administration graft and influence peddling accumulated to the point of violent explosion during the year. Moral weakness in the United States and its dramatization before the world while the country endeavored to give international moral leadership, may prove more devastating in the ultimate than the loss of Iran and its oil. And the person who did most to “change the news for better or worse” could have been Senator McCarthy [Joseph McCarthy] and his “big doubt,” ...or it could be his prime target, Dean Acheson, whose foreign policy created the longest and bitterest national debate in history and remains the center of great emotional and political ferment. Did the judges consider the Kefauvers [sic] who sparked public indignation to create a turning point in moral degeneration? (A prime mover was the television technician who showed the dismal pictures of corruption to the country, climaxed by the drama of the nervous hands of a politico-gangster chief before the Senate inquisitors.) [Kefauver Committee on organized crime, chaired by Sen. Estes Kefauver and featuring mobster Frank Costello]

Actually, who can say what person did most to change the news? Senator Douglas and his cry in the Senate chamber, emphasizing the pain and despair of the complex mid-century, [Paul Douglas] and William Oatis, who went to a Soviet jail for doing his job as a news reporter, contributed to the public temper. What of John Foster Dulles, who formulated and guided through a “peace of reconciliation” with Japan and the western diplomats who restored western hope by outfoxing the Russians at their own game at San Francisco? And General Eisenhower, should history show he actually persuaded the war-jaded Europeans to defend themselves militarily and politically? [Dwight D. Eisenhower] And what of the quiet scientists and medical men working with ACTH and other miracle preparations in the long war on illness? [adrenocorticotropic hormone] The man of 1951 could turn out to be Dr. Eldon Gardner of USU [Utah State University] or one of his fellows devoting their professional lives to problems of inheritance of cancer.

It is still too early to name the man of 1951 because the person or act which changed the tide may not be known, he or she may never be known. The New Yorker speculates that it could be a “school teacher somewhere who managed to speak a word that touched off something in a scholar’s mind or heart; a parent somewhere who tended the green plant of childhood and gave it strength; a stranger in the streets, who uttered a phrase of liberality that took hold.”

Surely historians and evaluators will not overlook the fighting man in Korea and his individual and accumulated valor and indomitability serving the first time under an international flag thwarting aggression and the spread of a wicked ideology by force of arms. [TIME’s choice for 1950 was “The American Fighting-Man”]

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Mossadegh & Arbenz & Lumumba & Sukarno & Allende... t-shirts

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Related links:

With No Policy, We Met May Yet Lose Iran | The Des Moines Register, Aug. 20, 1952

Sore Need For The First Team | Santa Cruz Sentinel-News, October 18, 1951

TIME Readers Irate Over Mossadegh’s “Man of the Year” Title (Jan. 1952)

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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