Friday, March 12, 2010

Some propagandists and apologists for theocratic authoritarianism in Iran

I've been a little slow about posting this, but unfortunately it's still timely.

The website Observing Iran has compiled a useful, though incomplete, overview of conspicuous Anglophone apologists, propagandists, and cheerleaders for the Khamenei/Revolutionary Guards/Ahmadinejad regime in Iran. The number and range of these people is illuminating. I was alerted to this round-up by the always enlightening BobFromBrockley (see below), who reproduced it along with some further relevant information (and, I was pleased to notice, a link to an earlier post of mine).

I do want to add a clarification and a caveat. All the individuals and organizations included in Observing Iran's "List of Islamic Republic apologists" (with one exception I will mention in a moment) have combined blatant and persistent apologetics for the Iranian regime with efforts to dismiss or smear the democratic opposition. But they cover a wide spectrum, and it's important to emphasize that they fall into a range of different categories which should not be conflated, including:

(a) people who actively sympathize with the Iranian regime on ideological grounds, whether those are based on theocratic authoritarianism, pseudo-progressive anti-"imperialism", or some combination of the two;

(b) actual paid employees of the regime's propaganda organs, such as PressTV; and

(c) self-styled foreign-policy "realists" whose whitewashing of and apologetics for the Iranian regime are not based on ideological sympathies (except, in some but not all cases, shared hostility toward Israel and toward real or alleged "Zionists"), but who merely regard the democratic opposition in Iran as a complicating irritation and wish it would just go away.

My caveat applies to the original Observing Iran list, but not to BobFromBrockley's post. Since I've mentioned this Observing Iran list, it seems proper to add that one person whose inclusion there I think is genuinely unfair, and who doesn't belong in any of the categories I've just outlined, is Ray Tayekh, It's true that, over the years, Tayekh has often been the kind of foreign-policy "realist" who has, at the very least, bent over backward to be sympathetic to the perspective of the Khamenei/IRCG/Ahmadinejad regime. But even at his worst, he was never in the same class as, say, the appalling duo of Flynt Leverett & Hilary Mann Leverett. More to the point, the fraudulent election in June 2009 and the Green Wave of opposition it provoked have had a genuine effect on Tayekh's thinking, and everything he's written about Iran since then has had a new tone (e.g., see here & here & here). Unlike the Leveretts, he has been unmistakably sympathetic, not hostile, to the democratic opposition, and he's been increasingly critical of the regime. One still might not find his position entirely satisfactory, but I don't think it's appropriate to include him in a list of that sort.

=> BobFromBrockley also mentions some other people who have worked for the Iranian regime's TV station, PressTV. A number of them have acted as explicit apologists for the regime (and thus have appropriately turned up on Observing Iran's list). But it is worth making clear, just to avoid any possible misunderstanding, that a few of them have not--for example, Tariq Ramadan.

Nevertheless, I think BobFromBrockley is correct to indicate that even those exceptions (or semi-exceptions) should be ashamed of their paid association with the regime's propaganda apparatus, which--at the very least--can only help lend it a veneer of respectability.

--Jeff Weintraub

Thursday, January 07, 2010
Press TV

Jeff Weintraub reminds us of what a disgrace Press TV is. Looking at their Iran news, the reader would have no idea that there is anything going on, let alone an uprising. This is the only inkling, which talks about "post-election unrest". Press TV is evidence for the totalitarian nature of the Iranian state.

Incidentally, among its paid employees are George Galloway, Yvonne Ridley, Tariq Ramadan,
Afshin Rattansi, Greenwich's own Andrew Gilligan, and, at least until recently, Derek Conway MP. The William Joyces of the 21st century?


(More on Gilligan. More on Ridley. More on Galloway.

Full list of Iran regime apologists from Observing Iran:
Abbas Barzegar
Abbas Edalat
Ali Fathollah-Nejad
Ardeshir Ommani
Arshin Adib-Moghaddam
Darius Guppy
Elaheh Rostami-Povey
Flynt Leverett
George Galloway
Haleh Afshar
Hamid Molana
Hooman Majd
James Petras
John Rees
Just Foreign Policy
Kaveh L. Afrasiabi
Ken Ballen
Leon Kuhn
Matthew Richardson
Mazda Majidi
Mehri Honarbin-Holliday
Nader Mokhtari
Nima Shirazi
Patrick Doherty
Phil Wilayto
Roshan Muhammed Salih
Seumas Milne
Socialist Unity
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich
Stop the War Coalition
World Socialist Web Site
Yvonne Ridley

For accurate news on Iran, turn to the blogosphere:Iran Solidarity, Azarmehr, Neo-Resistance, HOPI, Maryam Namazie, Entdinglichung, Airforce Amazons.

Previous: Galloway and the tyrants; Ahmadinejad's British stooges; Ridley and Galloway; Press TV and Nicholas Kollerstrom at Wikipedia.

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