The Left: shut up about the Iranian protests or you’ll make things worse

At least 21 people have been killed in the protest by Iran’s citizens—mostly working-class people—against the government’s corruption and inequalities of wealth and treatment. As the New York Times reports, the protests were sparked largely by economic issues but seem to have metastasized into a larger discontent about freedom and equality in general:

Antigovernment protests roiled Iran on Tuesday, as the death toll rose to 21 and the nation’s supreme leader blamed foreign enemies for the unrest. But the protests that have spread to dozens of Iranian cities in the past six days were set off by miscalculations in a long-simmering power struggle between hard-liners and reformers.

By Tuesday, Iran’s leaders could no longer ignore the demonstrations and felt compelled to respond publicly. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, blamed outside “enemies” but did not specify who. President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate, appealed for calm while saying the protesters had a right to be heard.

But the anger behind the protests was directed against the entire political establishment.

While the protests that swept Iran in 2009 were led by the urban middle class, these protests have been largely driven by disaffected young people in rural areas, towns and small cities who have seized an opening to vent their frustrations with a political elite they say has hijacked the economy to serve its own interests.

Unemployment for young people — half the population — runs at 40 percent, analysts believe. Meanwhile, Iran has spent billions of dollars abroad in recent years to extend its influence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

The initial catalyst for the anger appears to have been the leak by President Rouhani last month of a proposed government budget. For the first time, secret parts of the budget, including details of the country’s religious institutes, were exposed.

The government has shut down most social media (another sign of lack of freedom), and women have added their voices to the protest, doffing their headscarves and flaunting their opposition to veiling, as in this young woman who, having removed her compulsory hijab, is also waving her white shawl about (“White Wednesdays” are one way Iranian women expressing their opposition to veiling: they wear white on that one day of the week):

The woman above is now reported to have been arrested. Quelle suprise!

The tweet below is courtesy of Heather Hastie; it’s reminiscent of women’s mass opposition to veiling in 1979 when the theocracy began in Iran and veiling became compulsory (see my posts here and here).

While the protest started about economic issues, largely connected with diverting public money towards theocratic initiatives, the New York Times also reports the infusion of women’s disaffection into the mix.

STR/AFP/Getty Images

As I noted before, feminist organizations like NOW or The Women’s March have pretty much stayed away from even mentioning the Iran protests, much less the involvement of women who continue to decry their second-class status. One prominent hijabi has said nothing about it except to criticize Trump for his immigration ban. That has created what has been described as “the troll of the year”, below:

That’s hilarious, but of course Sarsour will never put herself on the line by decrying the oppression of women in Muslim countries.

A general summary of the silence from women on the Left is at (sorry) Fox News. Yes, it’s partly an excuse to bash the Left and perhaps feminists, but so what? The facts seem sound, and we simply cannot count on the Left and its media in general to support women’s rights in Muslim countries. What a pity that I have to cite right-wing sources to show what’s happening. An excerpt:

What’s empowering about the hijab is the choice to don one. Muslim women in the United States have that choice. Women in Iran do not. If these pro-women groups are all about choice for deprived women around the globe, now would be a good time to speak up on behalf of them.

Women in Iran are standing in defiance of the regime’s financial support of Hezbollah and Hamas rather than fair wages and human rights. But for progressive women’s groups to oppose Hamas in the face of these protests, it would mean abandoning months of pro-Palestinian support, capped off last week when pop singer Lorde cancelled her Tel Aviv show.

Sarsour, as a self-professed leading advocate for Muslim women in the United States and around the world, should be asked to clarify her position by journalists who are all too eager to present her with awards and speaking gigs: Does she support the women of Iran or the hardline theocracy that is currently brutalizing them?

What’s disgusting about all this are some Left-wing commenters who tell us that we have to stay out of this fracas, even verbally. While I agree that this is the Iranian people’s protest, and that the U.S. has no call to intervene, that doesn’t mean we can’t criticize the oppressive government or can’t stand on the side of those who want freedom. If America is supposed to stand for anything, it’s supposed to stand for supporting freedom, democracy, and equal rights for all citizens.

Yes, of course we sometimes fail at that ourselves, and yes, we’ve made unwarranted incursions into the Middle East, including Iran. But that doesn’t mean that all of us lack the moral authority to criticize those countries!

What’s angered many Leftists are a pair of tweets, one from Donald Trump. If this tweet came from, say, Hillary Clinton, people would applaud it, as its sentiments are sound. But because it came from Trump, a man who included Iran on the “restricted immigration” list, and who of course can say nothing that any Leftist would ever praise, it’s been vilified. (Whether it’s hypocritical to restrict immigration from a country and yet support the people’s right to self-determination is something I’ll leave to the readers.)

More distressing to me is this noncomittal, almost smarmy, tweet from former Secretary of State John Kerry, which more or less says, “Shut up about Iran. It’s not our business”:

And Sarah Jones at The New Republic, an organ which I believe still dresses toward the Left, is saying more or less what Kerry did:

Israel’s hard-right government praised the protesters, and so has the American right. In some cases, they’ve pivoted to feminist sentiment. “The most striking images coming out of the Iran human rights protests are not of men—they are of women,” Fox News columnist Stephen Miller asserted. “So the question must be asked: Where are the women’s movement supporters in the United States and Europe, which gathered en masse to protest a newly inaugurated American president last year?”

Many argue that such vocal support is counter-productive, since the regime can use it as evidence that the protests are indeed fomented by outsiders. “I, too, want to see the government in Tehran weakened, moderated or even removed,” Philip Gordon wrote in The New York Times. “So let me offer Mr. Trump some unsolicited advice: Keep quiet and do nothing.” Protesters themselves haven’t requested these public statements, which is in keeping with trends in public opinion; a 2016 survey by the University of Maryland’s Center for International and Security Studies found that most Iranians considered the U.S. to be “actively obstructive” in Iranian affairs.

Frankly, I don’t care whether the protestors requested statements from Americans. Trump, of course, is a special case, as his words carry more weight, but still I find nothing objectionable per se in his tweet above. But I feel no onus myself to shut up about Iran. The regime is theocratic, oppressive, misogynistic, and dangerous. (I’m starting to worry that our nuclear deal with the country might turn out to be a bad business.) I stand with the protestors, women and men alike.

Here’s Gordon’s piece mentioned above:

Well, at least the Times published a counter-piece, and I’ve put an excerpt below:

When you read comments about Iran it’s helpful to mentally substitute the names of other disreputable regimes. On Sunday, for example, former Secretary of State John Kerry tweeted the following about the Iranians who have taken to the streets to protest their theocracy: “With humility about how little we know about what’s happening inside Iran, this much is clear: it’s an Iranian moment and not anyone else’s.”

Would Mr. Kerry have said the same about Poland under Communism or black South Africans under apartheid? Would anyone in good conscience or with any strategic insight have recommended that the correct approach for Washington toward Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski or Prime Minister P.W. Botha was to remain quiet and do nothing?

Indeed! Once again we see the soft bigotry of low expectations. With such a lack of leadership, it’s no wonder the Democrats are so weak and divided.

Finally, from a new Times editorial by Roger Cohen (no fan of Trump): ‘Trump is right this time, about Iran

So Trump — even if he understands little or nothing of Iran, even if his talk of Iranian “human rights” sounds hollow from a sometime advocate of torture, even if his support of the Iranian people today is grotesque from the man who has wrongheadedly barred most Iranians from entering the United States — is right to speak up in solidarity and tweet that the “wealth of Iran is being looted” by a “brutal and corrupt Iranian regime.” It is. Given where American-Iranian relations stand, there is not much downside to this bluntness.

. . . What has not changed since 2009 is the bravery of Iranians. I watched in awe as women stood their ground and faced down baton-wielding police officers. Today, protesters are chanting that Khamenei should go. They are chanting death to the Revolutionary Guards. They are chanting, “Independence, freedom, Iranian republic.”

If the Right stands with the protestors, even if their reasons are different from ours, that’s no reason for us to remain silent. We can’t shut up just because we hate the Right so much that we cannot align with anything they say. If this country is not to be sundered completely, we must find some common ground with our opponents. Supporting the protests in Iran is one way to do that.

h/t: Orli Peter

61 Comments

  1. Draken
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Arguably, we should be glad Iran invested so much in defying ISIS; most of the West wasn’t of much use there. I’d say we owe them.

    • Craw
      Posted January 3, 2018 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      We never owe a government silence or complicity in oppressing its people.

    • Posted January 3, 2018 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      ISIS was defeated as a conventional military force by a combination of Kurdish ground forces, Iraqi ground forces, and Western and allied Arab air power. Besides the US, Western countries contributing forces included Britain, France, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, and Slovenia. You can probably guess who contributed fighter squadrons, and who contributed support and training. Iran provided support for the Iraqis (as did the Western allies), but most of its effort was in western Syria to support the Syrian government against non-ISIS opponents. The Kurds, without Iranian support, after initially faltering, checked the ISIS sweep in to Iraq, and recently took ISIS’s capital, Raqqa, essentially ending the neo-caliphate. Iran is opposed to ISIS, but they rank about 5th or so in who is responsible for its defeat.

      On the major question of the post, I think Kerry got it about right. Too close of an identification of the protesters with American interests could backfire. Gerecht’s comparison with Poland in the 80’s is wrong, not least because the Polish people were pro-Western and American.

      • Eric Grobler
        Posted January 3, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        No Russian or Syrian government involvement in the defeat of ISIS then?

        • colnago80
          Posted January 3, 2018 at 11:32 am | Permalink

          Not too much in Iraq.

          • Eric Grobler
            Posted January 3, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

            > Not too much in Iraq.
            True, but the Islamic State did not recognize these borders and spanned into both countries.
            Obviously pressure from the Russians in the West would have aided the Iraqi campaign in East.

            “Western and allied Arab air power.”
            Secondly you made it sound as if there were a grand Western and Arab coalition against Isis.
            I am sure you are aware that sometimes Isis received support from various Sunni states (including Turkey) and there were some indications that Western arms intended for the “moderate” syrian groups were aquired by Isis.
            Not to mention the fact than many Sunni’s would in principle be sympathetic to any Sunni insurgency in Shia dominated Iraq and Syria.

        • Posted January 3, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

          Virtually everyone opposed ISIS, and indeed Russia and Syria fought against it, so they can take part in credit for its defeat. But like the Iranians (and their ally Hezbollah), most of their effort was in western Syria, far from ISIS’s strongholds in eastern Syria and western Iraq. The recapture of ISIS held territory was mostly by Iraqis and Kurds, without much Russian or Syrian assistance.

          • Eric Grobler
            Posted January 3, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

            “without much Russian or Syrian assistance.”
            I am not an expert, but I think both Russian and American air power were significant in major cities like Raqqa and Mosul.

            • Posted January 3, 2018 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

              The Russian air campaign did not extend into Iraq, so they were not involved in Mosul. I don’t know all the details of air action around Raqqa, but any Russian effort there would have been secondary to the Western effort. So indeed the Iraqis and Kurds took those cities without much Russian assistance. There was indeed a broad coalition against ISIS, involving 30 or so countries. I particularly mentioned several of the Western countries, as the original comment I was replying to stated “the West wasn’t of much use”. But I took care to mention the allied Arabs as well, and I was thinking especially of Jordan, one of whose downed and captured pilots was horrifically executed by ISIS. You are correct that Turkey has vacillated with regard to ISIS, and I did not mention them as part of the coalition.

          • Steve Pollard
            Posted January 3, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

            And the Russian and Syrian effort was mostly against the perceived enemies of the Syrian Government, which included IS, but was not so much against IS per se. Indeed, it included a number of Syrian oppositionist groups supported by the US/UK.

            • Eric Grobler
              Posted January 3, 2018 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

              “included a number of Syrian oppositionist groups supported by the US/UK.”

              You are correct, but I assume they were a little more than “perceived threats” to the Assad regime.

          • Eric Grobler
            Posted January 3, 2018 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

            “The Russian air campaign did not extend into Iraq, so they were not involved in Mosul”.
            I never claimed they were!

            My only issue with your post is that you focus solely on Isis in Iraq, whereas I see the defeat of Isis as the result of a complicated gruelling 3 year war in both countries while gaining and losing support from various actors during that period.

            “There was indeed a broad coalition against ISIS, involving 30 or so countries”
            I am not sure why the many minor actors are relevant.
            Bush “coalition of the willing” included Rwanda, Dominican Republic and Eritrea!

            • Posted January 3, 2018 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

              [Following comment by Greg Mayer– commenting function seems to have gone awry, so I had to use the admin page to comment.]

              You said “both Russian and American air power were significant in major cities like Raqqa and Mosul.” That sure reads to me as saying the Russians were involved in Mosul.

              What the Russians and Syrians did was mostly in western Syria. This of course was highly significant in the Syrian civil war, but it was not where most of ISIS’s territory was. This territory was mostly in eastern Syria and Iraq, and that’s where they were defeated by Kurds (in Syria and Iraq) and Iraqis 9and I’ve mentioned both countries, not just Iraq, in every comment I’ve made here).

              As I noted before, I mentioned a number of the Western countries involved, including smaller ones, because a commenter had said the West was not of “much use”; I did not suggest Slovenia’s participation was decisive. Indeed, I invited readers to guess which countries had a combat versus support role. But you later said there was no “grand” coalition. I agree– that Churchillian word applies to Bush I’s coalition, not this one. But it is a broader (if not as numerous) coalition than Bush II’s “willing”, most notably by the inclusion of France, and thus all three of the Western powers capable of significant expeditionary military activity are participating.

              GCM

              • Eric Grobler
                Posted January 3, 2018 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

                “That sure reads to me as saying the Russians were involved in Mosul.”
                Valid point, I was under the wrong impression that Russia bombed Raqqa, but it seem to have been a Syrian Democratic Forces” / American campaign which is still not under Syrian government control according to Wiki.

  2. GBJames
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    sub

  3. Posted January 3, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Whether it’s hypocritical to restrict immigration from a country and yet support the people’s right to self-determination is something I’ll leave to the readers.

    Well if it is then most Westerners are hypocrites. Most Westerners would advocate that other countries be democracies, but the idea of completely open borders is currently a fringe policy.

  4. Malgorzata
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    sub

  5. Carl S
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Plenty of hypocrisy on all sides. If this were happening in Moscow, what would DT tweet? If this were happening in Beijing, would Nikki Haley say the UN Security Council should investigate?

  6. Liz
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Around the age of 14, I started to become fascinated (not the best word choice) with the fact that boys were naturally stronger. I challenged one of them to a wrestling type of match in gym class one day before the teacher got there just to see if I was stronger (I thought I would be). He whipped me down in front of the entire class. After all of my friends started having sex in high school, I developed a fear that I would be raped before I ever had sex for the first time. I was always aware that men were stronger even though I am athletic. I challenged boys in college to arm wrestles and they would always win. Always. I don’t know if I was always aware I was doing it, but I would be internally screaming out at this physical injustice. I played rugby for four years in college and this drive was partly due to that. I made it to 21 without being raped but that fear stayed with me for a while. The men being stronger thing isn’t really a thing I talk about but I am aware of it. I like to talk about religion and want to someday go to Dubai someday because several people have told me other countries, including Iran, would be too dangerous.

    Would I go to Iran and protest with these women? Absolutely. I’d show my breasts, be beaten, and raped. I would be numb and suffocated and would lose any interest in going to Dubai. I think it’s easy for women on the right who really wouldn’t go over there and don’t understand and are safely protected by their (mostly) white men, to judge others. It’s easy for men to judge other women, like that troll. Who knows why Linda Sarsour isn’t going over there to protest. The other thing is who knows what the women in Iran would think of American women protesting with them? It’s not just like all women are best friends just because they are women. It’s worth a shot, though, and maybe someone like Linda Sarsour could stand up and gather everyone together. I’d be down for whatever.

    • Jake Sevins
      Posted January 3, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Liz: thanks for sharing about your formative years and thoughts about male strength. I’d never heard a woman talk about those kinds of thoughts and fears before and it was interesting.

      Regarding Sarsour, you say “Who knows why Linda Sarsour isn’t going over there to protest.” I don’t think, as you seem to suggest, it’s really a mystery. The guy who trolled her knew she wouldn’t go when he tweeted that. And most everyone who follows Sarsour knows she would never go. I don’t think Sarsour is a coward… I think she would go to the Palestinian territories and lay down her life, in fact. But she won’t support women in Iran taking off their hijabs, because Sarsour has taken the position that a hijab is a symbol of empowerment. So she’d have to rethink a lot of things to support those women.

      All of this underscores a point Jerry made well: feminists don’t seem to support oppressed women in Muslim countries.

      • Liz
        Posted January 3, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the kind words. Happy to share (sort of unintentionally).

        Maybe that’s because there isn’t too much interaction between the cultures? I’m not sure. I’m supportive of oppressed women and would be happy to help however I could. I really don’t know. Maybe instead of talking to the Muslim men here about religion, I can talk to the women and slowly build a relationship with them instead. Then maybe we can all go to Dubai together, stop over in Iran, and get everyone out for a ladies night! You never know.

  7. DrBrydon
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    . . . an organ which I believe still dresses toward the Left . . . .

    *snerk*

    But seriously, to Gerecht’s point, I think there is a fair chance that Kerry might have had the same attitude over Poland as he is displaying over Iran. Much of the left had the same blinders on about Communism.

  8. Jon Gallant
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Here is a simple prediction. While and after the Iranian theocracy crushes the opposition demonstrations and jails thousands of opponents, not a word about Iran will appear in the discourse of the pop-Left and that of pop-Left “feminists”. In the same way, any mention of Venezuela has magically disappeared from the discourse of Jeremy Corbyn & Co. in Britain.

    The template for this magic act was established many years ago, in the 1950s.
    In 1956, as older campers may remember, a mass revolution in Hungary dislodged the brutal Soviet puppet regime of Matyas Rakosi and forced into power a reformist Communist government under Imre Nagy. The Soviet Union sent in the tanks and 17 divisions, but it initially pretended to negotiate with the Nagy government. Then, with exceptional treachery, it arrested officials of the Nagy government who had come to negotiate under a flag of truce, and re-conquered Budapest to install a new puppet regime. These events were watched intently everywhere EXCEPT on the pop-Left.

    I recall, as a teenager, being shocked that The Nation magazine carried nothing whatsoever about events in Hungary until it was all over; then it issued a brief, mealy-mouthed editorial comment that maybe, maybe the USSR had made a little bit of a “mistake” in Hungary.

    From then on, the entire part of the world that included Hungary vanished entirely from the pages of The Nation. For about 40 years after 1956, you could learn more about Eastern Europe in the pages of Donald Duck comics than from The Nation magazine. I believe Susan Sontag shocked some when she made public note of this in the 1990s.

    • Eric Grobler
      Posted January 3, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      “The Nation magazine carried nothing whatsoever about events in Hungary”

      Thanks for sharing, I was not aware of this, but am not surprised of course.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted January 3, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      Jon, I think that is a perspicacious, and also fairly safe, prediction! Indeed, Corbyn has been noticeably silent on the current Iran crisis despite (or because) allegedly taking £20k for appearing on their state-run Press TV station – whose broadcasting licence in the UK was withdrawn 5 years ago. He is likewise unwilling to say a word against the activities of Hezbollah or Hamas, while being mealy-mouthed about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

      • Eric Grobler
        Posted January 3, 2018 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        Do you know if Corbyn currently self identify as a Marxist? How radical is he actually?

        • DiscoveredJoys
          Posted January 3, 2018 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

          My somewhat cynical view is that Jeremy Corbyn self identifies with the politics of whoever he spoke to last.

          Some of the inner circle around him are allegedly Stalinists, Communists, or Marxists. And whatever the current flavour of ‘the cause’ it is more important to him (or his minders) than the fates of the ‘little people’.

          • Eric Grobler
            Posted January 3, 2018 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

            Makes you wonder who is the worst – a true believer in a failed ideology or an opportunist and charlatan!

          • BJ
            Posted January 3, 2018 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

            He has addressed a May Day parade with prominent Soviet flags proudly waving in the air in front of him.

      • BJ
        Posted January 3, 2018 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        “He is likewise unwilling to say a word against the activities of Hezbollah or Hamas…”

        He’s not just unwilling to say such things, he has called Hezbollah and Hamas “friends.” Long after, while he was guiding his party in the 2016 elections, he was called upon by many to denounce Hezbollah and Hamas, but he refused to do so. Instead of denouncing the terrorist organization, Corbyn chose to release a wishy-washy statement about how he often talks to people with whom he “profoundly disagrees,” of course not naming any organization or group in particular.

  9. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    that the U.S. has no call to intervene

    Any intervention that the US made at a “diplomatic” level would be disregarded or counter-productive since there are still many who remember the massively lethal effects of past US interventions in the 50s and 60s and 70s. I’ve met people who were tortured by agents of the Shah after his installation by the USA. Almost any other country could have a more effective voice through not having such blood-soaked hands.
    If President Smallhands were minded to intervene, he’d be well advised to leave it to his professional diplomats to do it by supporting other less-tainted countries. That would be the sensible thing to do. So it’s also safe to assume that he wouldn’t do that. He’d foghoen idiocy (I.e., Tweet), choose allies from the lunatic fringe and pay them, blatantly, to perform acts of state-sponsered terrorism within Iran, and generally behave to international relations like a proverbial bull in a china shop. (Apologies to pottery-loving male bovine out there.) And present China and/or Pakistan with a perfect excuse to sell nuclear material to Iran.
    Fortunately, Iran doesn’t have much deep water exploration budget, so it’s mostly academic. Except for the people who will die under torture as the consequences of this play out

    • GBJames
      Posted January 3, 2018 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      “leave it to his professional diplomats”

      Are any of those left?

    • Al
      Posted January 3, 2018 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      No offense, but I feel your comment exemplifies the many misunderstandings by well-meaning Westerners about the history of Iran and the nature of the current regime. The Shah was not “installed by the USA”, he was the legitimate ruler of Iran as it was a monarchy at the time. Mossadegh, the supposed “democrat”, was appointed as prime minister in 1951 and quickly moved to quash his domestic opponents. This caused a lot of backlash. When the shah dismissed Mossadegh from office, Mossadegh continued to wield powers he no longer officially had. This led to street demonstrations, which were ironically enough widely supported by the clerical establishment now in charge. Far from being a coup instigated by the CIA, the role of American intervention was intentionally exaggerated by Kermit Roosevelt, a CIA official in Iran, for vanity reasons.

      Of course, the current regime finds it useful to play the role of victims at the hands of “evil imperialists” and dupe gullible Westerners (like Obama and Kerry) into concessions and silence as evidenced in the above post by our host; that doesn’t mean we have to succumb to this narrative of victimhood. I encourage readers to learn more of the story here: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2014-06-16/what-really-happened-iran

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 7, 2018 at 12:52 am | Permalink

        You’ve clearly spoken to other people than I’ve talked to. I don’t consider my source to be a liar. That he chose to not flee to America says enough for me.

  10. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    The problem with the comments from Trump is that everyone knows his preference when it comes to certain countries. If this was Saudi would he say this…of course not. If it were Russia? That is the problem with Trump. He should just keep polishing his big red nuclear button. Such a moron.

    • Eric Grobler
      Posted January 3, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you sentiments about Trump, but my issue with your post is the implication that hypocrisy is unique to the Trump admin.

      All American administrations have treated the Saudi’s with soft gloves.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted January 3, 2018 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        Good Grief. Where did I indicate Hypocrisy is unique to Trump? Treating Saudi with soft gloves is what most have done for sure. We were always in a bed of oil with them. If we were needing oil from Iran it would be the same. Let me just say for simplification, Trump is the only guy Tweeting his foreign policy. Is that too rough on him?

        • Eric Grobler
          Posted January 3, 2018 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

          “Where did I indicate Hypocrisy is unique Trump”
          Sorry! The phrase “his preference” as apposed to a more historical “American preference” as regards to the Saudi’s gave me the wrong impression.

          “Is that too rough on him?”
          No, he twitters like a teenager.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    … an organ which I believe still dresses toward the Left …

    Oh no you di’int. 🙂

    As opposed to the others that go tucked?

    At least the tailors are laughin’.

    • Ben Curtis
      Posted January 5, 2018 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      Isn’t “dresses toward the left” a reference to the military order “Dress right! Dress!” for aligning the rows of a formation on the soldier on the far right of the row. Admittedly, though, the tailoring reference IS funnier in this this context.

  12. Harrison
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    “We can’t shut up just because we hate the Right so much that we cannot align with anything they say.”

    Ironically such behavior is the perfect emulation of the Right.

  13. drew
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    There is the possibility that support from westerners would alter the view of protesters and further contribute to them being otherized. However, I don’t think that is what is driving left opposition to western involvement.

    I think that what is driving opposition to involvement is the misguided notion that helping out the protesters is somehow colonialism, or white knighting.

  14. Posted January 3, 2018 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    “What a pity that I have to cite right-wing sources to show what’s happening.”

    Why?

    I think the rest of your blog shows why it is foolish to rely only on one side of the media for the facts.

    • Posted January 3, 2018 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

      What I meant here was, of course, that I have to rely solely on the right to find some reportage of these affairs, which means that the Left avoids it. That is a pity.

  15. rwilsker
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I don’t see Kerry’s comments as smarmy.

    What I see him as saying is that regardless of whether we understand all the issues that the Iranian people are protesting about, we should support their right to protest.

    He’s also saying that people (e.g., Trump) shouldn’t try to co-opt these protests for their own purposes.

    I would think this site would agree with those sentiments.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 3, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      I read Kerry’s comment much like you do. I’ve never thought much about Kerry one way or the other, but I don’t agree with Jerry’s interpretation of Kerry’s comment. Though I think it is likely that Kerry put more effort than I like to see into composing a comment that wouldn’t offend anybody.

    • Posted January 5, 2018 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      And to *tread carefully* with the support.

  16. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    I am an internationalist; I favor giving aid and encouragement to freedom-loving people everywhere in the world.

    But Donald Trump’s tweet shows the utter incoherence of his worldview (if we may use the term “worldview” so loosely as to encompass his). He is, after all, the guy who called for isolationism during his campaign and stated in his inaugural speech that “it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first,” while proclaiming that, for him, “it’s going to be only America first. America first.” He’s the guy who’s cozied up to despots across the globe, including ones with the most miserable human-rights records against their own people, from Putin to Duterte to Erdoğan.

    His words about the rights of the Iranian people are as hollow and incoherent as was his other exhortation in his inaugural address to “buy American, and hire American,” while he and his children have the crappy, chi-chi clothing they peddle made in overseas sweatshops.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 3, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      I completely agree. Does a history of past behavior mean nothing? Do intentions mean nothing? Are we supposed to pretend that Trump is being sincere? Perhaps some “leftists” are criticizing Trump for the wrong thing I suppose, but it is not wrong or unreasonable to criticize Trump for his tweets in support of the protests in Iran. He has well proven himself, long past. It is unreasonable to give him the benefit of the doubt.

      • Paul S
        Posted January 3, 2018 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        I don’t see the issue as giving Trump the benefit of the doubt. The problem is the left won’t support the Iran protesters because of a tw**t from Trump. I find that unconscionable.

        • darrelle
          Posted January 3, 2018 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

          That is what Jerry said, but I don’t agree with that. I think it rather more likely that most of the people that don’t support the Iran protesters arrived at that position regardless of Trump’s tweet. Also I, other commenters I am familiar with here that I know are “on the left,” many other people I know in both real life and virtually that are “on the left,” and even one of Jerry’s examples, Kerry, support the Iran protesters and think that Trump is a lying sack of shit at the same time.

          • Paul S
            Posted January 3, 2018 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

            I hope you’re right, but from what I’ve read most people are busy talking about trump instead of the issues in Iran.
            I agree that trump is a lying sack of shit, but he got this right even if it’s for the wrong reason.
            If we’re too busy worrying about a statement supportive of human rights because of who said it, we’re in serious trouble.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 3, 2018 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        Trump’s only goal in criticizing the Iranian government is to throw shade at his his predecessor, since (in Trump’s warped mind) his criticism reflects poorly on the Iranian nuclear deal. Donald Trump is incapable of experiencing empathy for “the people” — be those people Iranians, or Puerto Ricans, or Dreamers, or America’s own working poor (as demonstrated by his tax-cut-for-the-super-rich).

    • nicky
      Posted January 3, 2018 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      It maybe hollow, but it is the first tweet of Mr Trump (and I’ve seen many dozens) where I can fully agree. I think he even gets the reasons behind the protests exactly right. (It is so spot on I even doubt he wrote it himself 🙂 ) The only thing he fails to mention is that Iranians are fed up with theocracy too.

  17. Jake Sevins
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I don’t want to distract Jerry with such a pedantic question, but maybe you all can opine here: does “metastasize” have a negative connotation meaning “spreads like a cancer”? I doubt Jerry meant to insinuate that these protests are cancer-like in his view, but the word elicited thoughts like that in me when he used it above.

    Is there a (ahem) benign meaning of the word I’m unaware of?

  18. nicky
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Metastasise: spreading into new areas. Yes it does have that negative connotation, and I’m sure the Iranian clergy sees it as such. On the other hand, it is obvious our host meant just the spreading into new areas, unless (less probable) he sarcastically echoed the views of the Iranian Govt (Plz correct me if I’m wrong).

  19. Posted January 3, 2018 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    I get he feeling the ‘left’ are opossums caught in the glare of oncoming headlights, they do and don’t know what to do.
    They can see the problem, oncoming vehicle associated with the headlights and that people are ‘willing’ and tragically, die.
    Whereas THEY just need to duck, rollover to the ‘right’ lick a few wounds and walk away.
    Like DT i will be watching, he got that right.
    The Iranian ruling party support for fractionist warmongering at the exclusion for the welfare of it’s own people is sickening and the smelly fingers of religion makes it putrid.

  20. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Since the regime in Iran is only too eager to malign the protestors as ‘foreign inspired’ and ‘tools of Iran’s enemies’, it should be obvious that endorsement from the US particularly – and especially Trump-inspired clumsiness – is a poison pill.

    It’s extremely tricky, but I think the best course of action from the US (at governmental level) would be to urge caution and respect for human rights on the Iranian government. Diplomatically. Without sounding as if they’re gloating.

    Chances of a Trump-led US doing that? About zero…

    cr

  21. CJColucci
    Posted January 4, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    A thing can be true even if Trump says it, just as a stopped clock is right twice a day. But it isn’t the job of a President simply to say true things. He has actual responsibilities. Trump being Trump, his tweet will be of absolutely no use, and might very well be counterproductive.
    As for the rest of us, we can say true things without much fear of making matters worse, though without much prospect of doing any tangible good.

  22. Posted January 5, 2018 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    IMO, the “shut up” should apply to the US *government* – this protects the protestors from their government. Why? Especially in a place like Iran (with good reason I might add) will blame the US in spite of everything, so why give them ammo. Take the high ground. That said, individual Americans and all us others should still show solidarity when the goals of the Iranians protesting are laudable.


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