Well, compared to the damage our new President is likely to do to the country, this incident doesn’t count as much. But it’s a sign of how mean-spirited the administration is.
As you may know, Asghar Farhadi, an Iranian director, won the Oscar this year for Best Foreign-Language film for “The Salesman.” (I haven’t yet seen it, but it gets a 97% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes.) But this wasn’t his first win: he nabbed the same award for his 2012 movie “A Separation.” Here’s a man who knows what he’s doing.
Unfortunately, the U.S. government doesn’t share that view, at least publicly. As Reuters reports. the U.S. State Department’s official Persian language Twitter account initially congratulated Farhadi for his win, and then deleted the tweet. Why would it do that? Here’s one clue:
Farhadi boycotted the Oscars ceremony to protest Trump’s January executive order that temporarily banned entry to the United States by Iranians and citizens of six other Muslim-majority countries, and issued a statement criticizing the order. The ban was blocked by federal courts, although the administration is working on a new order.
Farhadi chose two Iranian-Americans – a female engineer and a former NASA scientist – to represent him at the ceremony. Anousheh Ansari, an engineer who was the first female space tourist, read a statement on Farhadi’s behalf calling the travel ban “inhumane.”
“Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war,” Ansari said, reading from Farhadi’s statement.
According to screenshots circulating on Twitter, the @USAdarFarsi account posted a message around 1 a.m. EST congratulating Farhadi on the award, which was Iran’s second Oscar victory. The tweet was then deleted, although it is unclear exactly when.
“A congratulatory tweet was posted,” a State Department spokeswoman said. “We later removed the post to avoid any misperception that the USG (U.S. government) endorsed the comments made in the acceptance speech.”
. . . The @USAdarFarsi account, which launched in February 2011 and seeks to engage directly with Iranians, had previously tweeted messages about “The Salesman,” including on Jan. 24, when it noted its Academy Award nomination and sent best wishes to Farhadi.
That tweet, which is still online, was published days before Trump issued the travel ban that sparked Farhadi’s protest.
Umm. . . congratulating him for his win doesn’t mean endorsing everything he says, though in this case I agree with both Farhadi’s sentiments and his gesture. But the State Department could have been big enough to congratulate the man for his achievements (after all, aren’t we trying to be friends with Iran?) without a mean-spirited revocation of those congratulations.
Here’s the tweet captured by Steve Herman before it was deleted. I can’t read the Persian, but perhaps a reader can.