promoting the unwanted, redheaded stepchild that is individual liberty

Let the man speak: Iran’s president vs. media distortion

In foreign policy, media, war and peace on March 9, 2010 at 2:40 am

“Is it not possible to put wealth and power in the service of peace, stability, prosperity and the happiness of all peoples through a commitment to justice and respect for the rights of all nations, instead of aggression and war?” — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Why does the American government so fear speech in opposition to its own?

Point in case: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Now I’ll be the first to admit Ahmadinejad is no benevolent leader whose heart’s desire is world peace. But let’s be honest — the guy has not been given a fair shake.

First there was the media-misconstrued “wipe Israel off the map” rumor. If you were listening to the mainstream machine, you probably believed Ahmadinejad unveiled his evil desire to annihilate Israel while giving a speech at a conference in Iran. In actuality, the president of Iran was quoting leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, and said:

“The Iman said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time. This statement is very wise.”

Hmmm. Doesn’t exactly sound like a declaration of war.

And then there was the designed to be ill-fated visit to Columbia University where the president famously denied the existence of homosexuals in Iran. But more offensive than Ahmadinejad’s ridiculous claim was the introduction given to him by University President Lee Bollinger.

“Mr. President you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator,” were the words Bollinger chose to open with. He continued insulting Iran’s president for more than six minutes; even having the audacity to ask President Ahmadinejad if he plans “on wiping us off the map too?”

He concluded with this disrespectful gem:

“Frankly, and in all candor Mr. President, I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer theses questions. But your avoiding them will, in itself, be meaningful to us. I do expect you to exhibit the fanatical mindset that characterizes so much of what you say and do.”

Talk about an introduction. If only U.S. politicians were so lucky to be prefaced in such a way.

Not only did Ahmadinejad try to reach out to the American people during his visit to the U.S., he also challenged President George W. Bush to a live TV debate that “should be uncensored, above all for the American public.”

Of course, the administration declined; dismissing Ahmadinejad’s invite as a “diversion.”

But Ahmadinejad did not only attempt to communicate with President Bush on live TV. He also addressed to him a lengthy letter in which he challenged Bush’s claim of Christianity.

“Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the great Messenger of God, feel obliged to respect human rights, present liberalism as a civilization model, announce one’s opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and WMDs, make “War and Terror” his slogan?” he asked in the letter.

Perhaps realizing his efforts to communicate with the president would be ignored, Ahmadinejad attempted to communicate directly with the American people. In his open letter, Ahmadinejad expressed sadness over the Iraq war and sympathy toward both the Iraqis and American soldiers.

“American soldiers often wonder why they have been sent to Iraq,” he said.

Ahmadinejad went on to condemned all terrorism because “its victims are innocent” and posed this question to the American people:

“Is there not a better approach to governance? Is it not possible to put wealth and power in the service of peace, stability, prosperity and the happiness of all peoples through a commitment to justice and respect for the rights of all nations, instead of aggression and war?”

Surely such humanitarian ramblings can not be that of the “insane dictator” otherwise known as Mamoud Ahmadinejad? Doesn’t he want to build a nuclear arsenal with the intention of launching World War III? On the contrary, Iran’s president has vehemently denied such accusations.

In an interview with Charlie Rose, Ahmadinejad reiterated that Iran has no nuclear weapon ambitions. He called such weapons “outdated” and said Iran is ideologically opposed to them.

“We’ve said many times before, we don’t need the weapon,” he said. “It’s not enshrined in our defense doctrine, nuclear defense, and ideologically we don’t believe in it either. We have actually rejected it on an ideological basis. And politically we know that it’s useless. It’s useless.”

However, the president did defend Iran’s right to develop it’s own nuclear energy without dependence on foreign powers.

“You should not have the ability to developed the nuclear fuel cycle yourself,” he said.

Ahmadinejad also pointed out the often-ignored fact of Iranian non-aggression. The president is correct in claiming that Iran historically has not invaded other nations. However, as he points out, his county has been the target of foreign attacks — including those financed by the United States. And let’s not forget the CIA’s overthrow of the democratically-elected Iranian government in 1953.

To be sure, Ahmadinejad is not to be trusted. But then again what politician is? What is clear is that the United States’ government, using media as a weapon of distortion, has twisted and largely silenced the message of Iran’s president. Ahmadinejad deserves a fair shake. More importantly, the American people deserve to hear what he has to say, uncensored, no matter how unpleasant it may be.

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  1. That’s a long, long stretch to try to defend Ahmadinejad and his call for the destruction of Israel. I imagine you are aware that Iran does not officially recognize Israel as a country, correct? That being the case, Ahmadinejad refers to Israel by many labels, but never as the “country” of Israel. He’ll call them the “Zionist entity”, or “Occupied Palestine” for example. One of the words he uses is “regime”, as in “Zionist regime”. When using that, he is not referring to the government of Israel, but to the country as a whole. So yes, he is calling for Israel to be wiped off the map, and it is quite the stretch to defend him by parsing his sentences or claiming he was merely quoting someone else (especially when he follows the quote with “This statement is very wise”.) There really is little question that Ahmadinejad wants to see Israel and the Jews destroyed.

    The more pressing question is why you feel the need to sympathize with him? Why the support? Why the love for a fanatical Holocaust denier? Bearing in mind that I do not know the answer and therefore I am legitimately asking and not accusing, does this support stem from the fact Ahmadinejad, like you, questions the true culprit behind 9/11? If so, it’s my opinion that would be a really large “enemy of my enemy is my friend” stretch there. Is there some other reason you believe he should be given even more opportunity to spew his hatred, or that you feel his own words are being somehow unfairly used against him? For someone who usually seems pretty balanced and on the ball politically, this 9/11 Truther stuff and the Ahmadinejad love-in appear to be coming out of left field. Unless you want him to continue being given voice in order to provide further education as to what a fanatical madman sounds like, I’d be interested to hear more why you believe he is being treated unfairly.

    • Moose,

      I do not love or support Ahmadinejad as you suggest. My stance has less to the with the leader himself and more to do with the welfare of the American people.

      My concern is that our government demonizes and shun nations that are “rogue” — nations such as Cuba, Venezuela and Iraq. I see these nations, not necessarily as examples of what civil society should look like, but as independent, sovereign states resisting foreign/global control. Many of these nations are not members of damaging organizations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

      Often, these nations offer viewpoints and information that is either not available or ignored by the United States and Europe.

      Sadly, those who have the courage to listen to and consider what these outcast nations have to say are often demonized themselves.

  2. Jessica,

    I do not support censorship of the President of Iran nor do I believe it is being imposed by anyone. If Christian zealots carry signs at military funerals saying “Thank God for dead soldiers”, I suppose we should let Ahmenijad have his say as well.

    He is indeed a willy politician manuevering between the clerics, army and Lord knows what other factions in Iran. But in the end he represents a Theocracy, a rule based on religious law derived from …..? Do you believe that gives him and the clerics some “step up” in morality or a world view of compassion and dignity for all men?

    Wouldn’t it be an interesting world if the US became a government controlled by the “religious right” with all its venom of hell fire and damnation for those that do not believe and act as they see proper. Then turn that for of a US against Iran and the rest of the Arab world. The last time that happened as I recall was termed the Crusades and the world was considered to be in the Dark Ages.

    Listen and publicize Ahmenijad all you like. I will stick to getting a balanced budget, thank you.

    Have you found the cause of the hole in the Pentagon and the ground in PA yet?

    Anson

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