I have such a difficult time with all the misinformation and propaganda surrounding Iran and any nuclear program that they may or may not be developing. It's impossible for an intellectually honest discussion to happen. And even when we have positive developments, members of the news corps are still fear mongering the great Iranian nuclear bogeyman:
Last Saturday—the same day the United States and Iran were having "constructive and useful" discussions on Iran's nuclear program in Istanbul, according to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton -- the New York Times published a piece titled, "Seeking Nuclear Insight in Fog of the Ayatollah's Utterances," over the byline of James Risen.
That piece contained the following paragraph:
Complicating matters further, some analysts say that Ayatollah Khamenei's denial of Iranian nuclear ambitions has to be seen as part of a Shiite historical concept called taqiyya, or religious dissembling. For centuries an oppressed minority within Islam, Shiites learned to conceal their sectarian identity to survive, and so there is a precedent for lying to protect the Shiite community.
No "analyst" at all was specifically cited in support of this argument anywhere in the article. It should be obvious that when the United States has threatened war against a country, it treads in the precincts of racist war propaganda for a news article about that country to essentially say, "Because of their religion, their leaders aren't like our leaders—they lie," without substantiating that claim at all or presenting balanced views of experts on the topic.
In his blog Informed Comment, Middle East scholar Juan Cole notes that taqiyya has been "widely misrepresented by Muslim-haters and does not apply in Khamenei's case." Cole explains that, historically, taqiyya was not a license to lie about anything, but permission to conceal one's religious identity in the face of life-threatening sectarian prejudice. He also notes that, in the twentieth century, the tide of Shiite legal opinion ran against taqiyya; and that Imam Khomeini, who led the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, demanded that taqiyya be abandoned. Cole concludes by saying that the taqiyya argument is "just some weird form of Islamophobia."
Oh, for crying out loud. If lying makes a nation unfit for diplomacy, where does the U.S. stand? Of course national leaders lie. Nation, meet George W. Bush. But to insinuate that there is something inherently deceptive about Islam that makes anything uttered by Iranian mullahs suspect is just straight bigotry. Look at Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor in the video above. How many times has that now admittedly false meme been used to justify hostility and aggression towards Iran? How many American politicians have invoked it?
What message do we think we're sending Iran? Certainly not one desiring of peace.
About Nicole Belle
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