Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The New York Times and Ahmadinejad

Steven M. Warshawsky, The American Thinker:
The New York Times Sunday offered a disgustingly sympathetic portrait of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (hat tip: Dinocrat). While the article acknowledges (in the words of an anonymous political science professor in Tehran) that “being against Jews and Zionists is an essential part” of Ahmadinejad’s political identity, the focus of the article is on Ahmadinejad’s “speed and aggression” in accumulating power and in “reshaping” the nature of Iran’s government.

For what ends? Here the article is curiously silent about Ahmadinejad’s threats to destroy Israel and Iran’s support for international Islamic terrorism. READ MORE

While the New York Times cannot quite bring itself to call Ahmadinejad a “reformer,” that is clearly the thrust of the article. For example, the article repeatedly trumpets that Ahmadinejad is “a proponent of women’s rights,” has “challenged high-ranking clerics on the treatment of women,” and has “defended women in a way that put him outside the mainstream of conservative Islamic discourse.” Of course, the “mainstream of conservative Islamic discourse” takes a rather dim view of “women’s rights”—certainly as westerners have understood that term for the past several hundred years. Moreover, the only specific example of Ahmadinejad’s alleged support for women was his proposal to allow women into sports stadiums—which was promptly rejected by the Supreme Ayatollah Khamenei. So much for Ahmadinejad as Iran’s Susan B. Anthony.

Another aspect of Ahmadinejad’s leadership style that appeals to the New York Times is his economic populism. The article quotes Ahmadinejad as saying that “parliament and government should fight against wealthy officials,” who “should not have influence over senior officials” and who “should not impose their demands on the needs of the poor people.” As for the poor people, Ahmadinejad “promises to improve the lives of the poorby forcing banks to lower interest rates, offering inexpensive housing loans, promoting “development projects” throughout the country, and trying to inject oil revenue into the economy.

Although the Times acknowledges that the Iranian economy is “almost entirely in the hands of the governmentand that Ahmadinejad lacks “a strong grasp of economics,” nowhere does it suggest that greater freedom and deregulation might be the keys to a stronger economy.

Ah, freedom. Something the New York Times interprets most expansively at home (e.g., the alleged First Amendment right to expose national security secrets), but cares rather little about abroad, at least in countries not allied with the United States. Hence, the article on Ahmadinejad offers little disapprobation for his “political arrests,” which the Times brightly reports “are down”; or for his “pressure” on newspapers “to be silent on certain topics, like opposition to the nuclear program”; or for his “punishment” of officials running the nation’s cell phone system, which people were using to circulate jokes about Ahmadinejad’s poor personal hygiene.

This sounds like a joke itself, but totalitarianism is no laughing matter. Plainly, the Times downplays the tyranny and brutality of Ahmadinejad’s regime because it does not fit into the “reformer” mold into which the article tries to squeeze him. Apparently, Islamic tyrants are now going to be accorded the same white glove treatment that the Left has always shown Communist tyrants.

Lastly, the Times article paints Ahmadinejad as an “ideologically flexible” leader who seeks a “dialogue” with the United States. Indeed, Ahmadinejad’s ridiculous, and chilling, letter to President Bush is presented as a “significant” act of “reaching out.” The Times also describes Ahmadinejad’s “consistent theme” as “the concept of seeking justice.” Again, a term that has very different meaning to westerners than to Ahmadinejad and his supporters. The point of these word games, and blatant misrepresentations, is to suggest that Ahmadinejad is not the warmongering Islamic fanatic that he, in fact, has shown himself to be time and time again. Quite obviously, this is part of the Times broader strategy of opposing U.S. military intervention in Iran. The Times once again takes the side of America’s enemies.

I predict we will be seeing many more Times articles over the coming months portraying Ahmadinejad as a reasonable fellow with whom the United States can negotiate peacefully—and all the while Ahmadinejad will continue his pursuit of nuclear weapons to use to destroy Israel and terrorize the West into submission.

The intellectual dishonesty, and moral hollowness, of the New York Times no longer surprises me.