Intolerance and discursive violence, two favorite targets of Mr. Mohammad Khatami in his recent speech on "ethics of tolerance in the age of violence," manifest themselves in a variety of shapes and forms and, sadly, the chorus of Khatami-bashers in the US media have shown us the depth to which they have sunk in this malady.
This past week, the right-wing
politicians and media pundits led one of the most vicious campaigns of character
assassination against an international public personality ever
witnessed. Comparing Khatami to Hitler, Bin Laden, and the KKK leader
David Duke, the formidable army of Khatami-bashers filled opinion columns,
air time on TV news and talk shows, and lined up behind the microphones during
the answer and question wherever Khatami spoke in his
Thankfully, the upper hand belonged
to the people who treated Mr. Khatami with respect and showed tolerance for his
point of view, even if they disagreed with some of what he said, such as the ABC
"Nightline" anchorman, George Stephanopolous, who showed a great deal of
deference toward Mr. Khatami in the interview aired on September 14.
Another example is Helena Cobban, who in her article in Christian Science
Monitor, dated September 14, emphasized Khatami's message of peace, quoting
Khatami's message to both
Without doubt, as I pointed out in
my OpEd article in Boston Globe, titled "Governor's got it wrong on Khatami,"
Khatami's legacy of pioneering the idea of Dialogue Among Civilizations,
promoting non-violent resolution of conflicts, mutual respect and cross-cultural
dialogue, alone vindicated the decision of
But, if there is a lesson to be
taken from Khatami's trip to the
Amir Taheri is a vivid example of this unsavory clan, penning "Khatami's discourse of deception" in New York Post, deserving close reading for the wealth of factual errors, misstatements and mischaracterizations packed in one article. Consider the following:
(1) Taheri claims that Khatami's English interpreter had a hidden agenda, to mistranslate what Khatami said in Farsi. One example Taheri gives is the word khoshunat, which he claims means "roughness" and yet was interpreted as "violence." Wrong Mr. Taheri. Any imbecile familiar with Farsi disagrees with you and knows too well that it is you who has distorted the meaning of khoshunat, universally used in our texts and every day language as none other than violence.
(2) Taheri claims that Khatami is a member of the Assembly of Experts. False. Khatami is not.
(3) Taheri claims that Khatami
introduced himself as the president of
(4) Taheri claims that Khatami "altered his identity" by deleting reference to his religious title. Not so, as Khatami wore the same robe and ammameh on his head, which was a clear signal as any about his religious credential, which he is rightly proud of, and if certain media chose to limit themselves to his first and last name, why should Khatami be blamed?
(5) Taheri claims that
'Khatami also forgot to mention that there was no dialogue among Iranians inside
To open a caveat here, in Fall,
2004, I was a visiting professor of political science at
Now, Mr. Taheri, a noted editor under the ancient regime, which never tolerated the slightest public criticisms, has some explaining to do why such clear examples of political openness on Khatami's part while he was a president should evade his radar?
(6) Taheri writes: "He spoke a great
deal about the need for dialogue, tolerance and understanding. But he made no
mention of the fact that he had closed down 150 Iranian newspapers, imprisoned
scores of journalists and unleashed his Hezbollah hounds to crush the student
revolts against his regime." But, really Mr. Taheri, whoever in
(7) Taheri disingenuously misrepresents Khatami's facial expression of sadness regarding the murder of Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi as "broad smile," and then goes on to say that he said he wasn't sure "how the poor woman died in one of his prisons." In fact, as the text of Khatami's speech reflected in the Boston Globe, not to mention his other earlier statements, regarding this tragic case shows, Khatami expressed his serious regret and conveyed that he did his best to push for investigation of the murder -- under suspicious and yet to be determined circumstances.
And what about Khatami's self-defense, during his US tour, that to his credit he put a stop to the serial murder of dissidents during his era, and managed to purge the "rogue" elements from the intelligence agencies responsible for those crimes? Of course, it would be too much to expect Taheri, sold on demonization of Khatami, to bother with such things rattling his carefully-constructed evil image of Khatami.
Alas, I could go on listing a half
dozen other factual distortions in Taheri's article, but that would be a
disservice to the readers and giving importance to this discredited,
sensationalist journalist with a proven record of systematic distortions -- as
his recent pieces falsely accusing Iran's UN ambassador of being a former
hostage-taker and falsely claiming that Iran has made Nazi-like dress codes on
Iranian Jews, both of which have been soundly exposed in the pages of Nation
Magazine and by the Canadian Government. What a pity, in spite of such
atrocious record, Taheri is still taken seriously by some aspects of the
Governor's got it wrong on Khatami - Boston Globe
Bunkum From Benador - The Nation
Khatami's Discourse of Deception - By Amir Taheri, New York Post
IRAN OKS 'NAZI' SOCIAL
FABRIC - By
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