Sunday, October 07, 2007

Portraying Defeat as Victory

Reformists and fair-minded people must not be concerned with how hardliner dailies Keyhan and Resalat covered the Columbia University debate [look at Keyhan’s Saturday and Resalat’s Thursday issues]. Keyhan’s Saturday issue, which is a special on Mr. Ahmadinejad’s trip, is the worst blow to the administration and its supporters. Moreover, Keyhan’s audience is the common man, and as Goebbles says, the bigger the lie, the better.

We can start with the first line of Keyhan’s article. It states, “half a billion people watched Ahmadinejad’s speech live.” That is a lie, and with a little reflection the authors of the article can see that. The speech was not even broadcasted live in Iran, and the number of people who watched it live is one-hundredth of the claimed number, meaning about four and half million people.

Keyhan writes, “in a survey of Columbia University students, 77% supported Ahmadinejad’s arguments.” This is incorrect. Columbia University students were asked whether they supported Ahmadinejad delivering a speech at the university, not whether they supported the contents of his speech.

But the most interesting is the author’s conclusion: “the approach of the previous president and government in international discussions and foreign policy was a passive, conservative approach, even apologetic at times towards the West and the Islamic revolution’s struggle against the United States.” Again, a lie. The last government’s brave defense of Iran’s rights prompted the American Secretary of State at the time to apologize to Iran about his government’s role in the 1953 overthrow of Prime Minister Mossadegh.

The author writes, “actually, we have been more successful in using [Khatami’s] discourse and methods. First, we have not given any points to the West; secondly, we have protected our rights; thirdly, we have influenced the West’s public opinion positively; and finally, European and American officials are now more passive and disabled.”

There are four mistakes in that claim. First, we have given points to the West, but our points have been ignored and are useless. Secondly, we are losing our rights in an asymmetric battle because of our insistence on slogans and moot points. Thirdly, the world’s public opinion has been mobilized against us. Finally, Western and American statesmen are much more serious about dealing with Iran now.

One must not be surprised by the Keyhan author’s jabs at former President Khatami either. It is natural that when you want to portray a defeat as a major victory, you must dismiss anything that may undermine you. When you are begging to negotiate with the Great Satan, you must harshly attack those who support compromise. Otherwise, how can you chant, “Islam conquered the White House”?

Violence against critics and crackdown on newspapers and websites all take place in Iran in order to prevent truth from coming to the surface. No wonder the President’s office asked the public to pray in mosques rather than to appear at the airport for his arrival.