One of the most defining features of the far (Guardian-style) left is a refusal to discriminate between liberal democratic states and backwards totalitarian regimes.
During the Cold War, such dupes were seen shilling for the Soviet Union, or their client states in Europe and Central America.
Today, this dynamic is at play in the moral equivalence posited between Islamists and the West.
Even so, you really have to try hard to defend the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Iran, though economically stagnant, does lead the world in one notable category: the export of terrorism.
Their President also has the nasty little habit of denying the Nazi Holocaust, while inciting for another one.
No matter, in the post-colonial world which Medhi Hasan occupies, the theocratic regime is the victim of the arrogance of imperialist Western powers.
Medhi Hassan’s recent CiF post, “If you lived in Iran, wouldn’t you want the nuclear bomb?“, Nov. 17, isn’t surprising to anyone familiar with the New Statesman (and Channel 4) editor’s politics.
Hasan opposes a two-state solution because such a formula would recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state.
He’s also excused antisemitism - in the polemical spirit of Ben White - as the natural reaction to Israeli policy.
Further, Hasan is a religious extremist who literally likened those who don’t accept the teachings of Islam to cattle.
So, Hasan’s apologia for the mullahs in Iran flows naturally from his Guardian-style politics.
In his latest polemical tale, Hasan asks us to empathize with the plucky Iranian underdog “surrounded on all sides by virulent enemies and regional rivals, both nuclear and non-nuclear.”
And, though Hasan, as with the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker, sows doubt on the “question” of whether Iran is indeed attempting to build a nuclear weapon – contradicting the findings of the latest IAEA report – he nonetheless asks:
“If you were our mullah in Tehran, wouldn’t you want Iran to have the bomb?”
“[When it comes to Iran] Empathy is in short supply… the Islamic Republic is dismissed as irrational and megalomaniacal.”
And, herein lies the quintessential post-modern moral equivalence.
It takes a lot of ideological conditioning to see the reactionary, theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran as the protagonist.
Freedom House’s survey of Iran ranked the county as among the worst human rights violators in the world.
Per Freedom House’s 2011 report on Iran:
Opposition politicians and party groupings have faced especially harsh repression since the 2009 presidential election, with many leaders—including former lawmakers and cabinet ministers—facing arrest, prison sentences, and lengthy bans on political activity.
Freedom of expression is severely limited. The government directly controls all television and radio broadcasting. Satellite dishes are illegal…Even the purchase of satellite images from abroad is illegal. The Ministry of Culture must approve publication of all books and inspects foreign books prior to domestic distribution.
The Press Court has extensive power to prosecute journalists for such vaguely worded offenses as “insulting Islam”
Iran leads the world in the number of jailed journalists
Key international social-media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are blocked
Religious freedom is limited in Iran, whose population is largely Shiite Muslim but includes Sunni Muslim, Baha’i, Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian minorities. The Special Court for the Clergy investigates religious figures for alleged crimes and has generally been used to persecute clerics who stray from the official interpretation of Islam. Ayatollah Seyd Hussain Kazemeini Boroujerdi, a cleric who advocates the separation of religion and politics, is currently serving 11 years in prison for his beliefs
Conversion by Muslims to a non-Muslim religion is punishable by death.
Some 300,000 Baha’is, Iran’s largest non-Muslim minority, are not recognized in the constitution, enjoy virtually no rights under the law, and are banned from practicing their faith…Hundreds of Baha’is have been executed since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, and at least 60 were in prison in 2010 because of their beliefs.
Academic freedom is limited. Scholars are frequently detained, threatened, and forced to retire for expressing political views, and students involved in organizing protests face suspension or expulsion in addition to criminal punishments
The constitution prohibits public demonstrations that “violate the principles of Islam,”
security services routinely arrest and harass secular activists as part of a wider effort to control nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
Iranian law does not allow independent labor unions
The country’s penal code is based on Sharia and provides for flogging, amputation, and execution by stoning or hanging for a range of social and political offenses; these punishments are carried out in practice.
Suspected [political] dissidents are frequently held in unofficial, illegal detention centers. Prison conditions in general are notoriously poor, and there are regular allegations of abuse, torture, and death in custody. Male and female detainees alleged rape by security forces in the second half of 2009;
Women do not enjoy equal rights under Sharia-based statutes governing divorce, inheritance, and child custody…A woman’s testimony in court is given only half the weight of a man’s,
It would certainly seem difficult for a genuine progressive – even those who are strangely unmoved by the Iranian President’s frequent call for the annihilation of the Jewish state – to empathize with the nuclear aspirations of a regime which rules in manner so fundamentally at odds with even the broadest understanding of progressive values.
Iran may severely oppress women, gays, religious minorities and political dissidents, but, as this blog continues to demonstrates, Guardian left values continue to be defined by this reflexive and comically facile ideology which posits that the enemy of the United States, Israel and the West is necessarily worthy of our sympathy.
Medhi Hasan’s latest commentary demonstrates that those predisposed to shilling for enemies of the democratic West didn’t disappear following the fall of the Soviet Union.
They merely adapted to the new political environment, and found new, creative ways to defend the morally indefensible.