The Appeasement Press
The Post’s account wholly fails to convey the radical nature of Ahmadinejad’s demands and claims:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the General Assembly several hours after Bush, and he accused the United States of rigging the United Nations to advance its own military and economic dominance and to oppress its weaker adversaries.
In his second such address to the world body, the Iranian leader charged that U.S. policies throughout the Middle East, including its support for Israel and the occupation of Iraq, have furthered human suffering in the region. He said the U.S. nuclear program poses a greater threat to international peace and security than Iran’s program does.
Ahmadinejad dismissed assertions by Bush that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. “All our nuclear activities are transparent, peaceful and under the watchful eyes of IAEA inspectors,” he said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The AP report matches a snatch from Ahmadinejad’s speech with a general account of U.S. policy on Iran’s nuclear program:
For his part, Ahmadinejad told the U.N. General Assembly that Iran’s nuclear activities were ”transparent, peaceful and under the watchful eye” of U.N. inspectors. He accused the U.S. and Britain of abusing the U.N. Security Council to achieve their own ends, and he also criticized the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Both of the Times‘ stories convey more detail, and a few of the more radical claims by Ahmadinajd –the Los Angeles Times described the speech as a “lashing out” and noted that “Ahmadinejad has become the most strident critic of the United States and Israel among leaders of Islamic nations– but both fail to convey the charge that Ahmadinejad made that the U.S. was behind the Hezbollah-Israel war, or the extent of his disavowal of the Security Council’s and indeed the U.N.’s legitimacy or why that matters.
None of them reported his concluding appeal for the quick arrival of the Hidden or Twelfth Imam. Not one.
Here is what Ahmadinejad said, according to the UN translator speaking as the speech was delivered:
“I emphatically declare that today’s world more than ever before longs for just and righteous people with love for all humanity, and above all longs for the perfect, righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet. Oh Almighty God, all men and women are your creatures and you have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirst for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by you, and make us among his followers among those who strive for his return and his cause.”
If George Bush had so ended his address, what would the reaction of the American press be?
For background, here’s the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl’s very balanced account of the Ahmadinejad theology. It begins:
QOM, Iran — In a dusty brown village outside this Shiite holy city, a once-humble yellow-brick mosque is undergoing a furious expansion. Cranes hover over two soaring concrete minarets and the pointed arches of a vast new enclosure. Buses pour into a freshly asphalted parking lot to deliver waves of pilgrims.
The expansion is driven by an apocalyptic vision: that Shiite Islam’s long-hidden 12th Imam, or Mahdi, will soon emerge — possibly at the mosque of Jamkaran — to inaugurate the end of the world. The man who provided $20 million to prepare the shrine for that moment, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has reportedly told his cabinet that he expects the Mahdi to arrive within the next two years. Mehdi Karrubi, a rival cleric, has reported that Ahmadinejad ordered that his government’s platform be deposited in a well at Jamkaran where the faithful leave messages for the hidden imam.
Such gestures are one reason some Iranian clerics quietly say they are worried about a leader who has become the foremost public advocate of Iran’s nuclear program. “Some of us can understand why you in the West would be concerned,” a young mullah here told me last week. “We, too, wonder about the intentions of those who are controlling this nuclear work.”
When the fanatical president of a strong and ambitious for nuclear weapons country appears at the United Nations, that’s news. When that president has repeatedly threatened Israel with destruction, denied the Holocaust’s existence, and sent long rambling letters to the leaders of the U.S., France, and Germany, people will want to know what he says and what it means.
When he delievers a radical address that –in soft tones, yes, but urgent ones– declares the U.N. to be illegitimate, the war against Israel by Hezbollah to be a creation of the U.S., goes out of his way to alert Christians that Jesus was just a prophet, and then closes with an apocalypse-welcoming appeal to God, that’s not just news, it is very crucial news, news that underscores many important facts for the West and the U.S., chief among them that “diplomacy” leading to a “better deal” isn’t on this radical’s mind. He wants his nukes. He wants the apocalypse.
And the appeasement press does not convey this; doesn’t even bother to report the closing appeal to the Almighty.
Because I played the speech live on my radio show, and saw and heard the reaction in the e-mails and the calls, I and my audience know what he was saying, and I know that it was big news of intense interest to Americans with any eye on the world.
And it is underplayed at best and ignored at worst.
Why such negligence by the appeasement press? A lot of reasons.
Because the appeasement press favors the party of appeasement, and stories that depart from the agenda journalism that wholly favors the Democratic Party platform of retreat from Iraq and the Democratic Party ideology that believes all evil in the world is either the fault of the U.S. or can be bargained away will not get much ink, if any.
Because it is lazy and incurious about such things as long speeches that have to be listened to in translation, and even when listened to, not to the end, and even when listened to to the end, not comprehended because most of the appeasement press don’t read widely or deeply.
Because the appeasement press is bigoted and at best agmostic, and don’t believe the religious beliefs of an odd-looking fellow from a mullah-run state can pose any sort of real threat to the West. Israel, maybe, but hey, they’ve got it coming to them, right? If the Jews had given the Palestinians their land back a couple of decades ago, we’d all be past this, right?
Read Princeton’s Bernard Lewis’s recent address, “Freedom and Justice in Islam,” in which the professor quickly covers the past century in the Middle East and charts the conditions we have confronted for the past ten years. America’s greatest scholar of Islam concludes, “Either we bring them freedom, or they destroy us.”
Read “The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and The Road to 9/11,” by The New Yorker’s Lawrence Wright, which details the menace of Islamist extremism that stands opposite of the Shia extremism represented by Ahmadinejad. “The most frightening aspect of this new threat,” Wright recounts early students of al Qaeda as understanding, “was that almost no one took it seriously. It was too bizarre, too primitive, and exotic.” Wright was referring to the mindset of 1996.
Ten years later, that mindset is back. And not even addresses from the pulpit of the U.N. can change that deep-seated indifference in the appeasement press.