June 25, 2009

More on Roger Cohen

There have been some very interesting comments on Roger Cohen. His support for ordinary, decent Iranians is welcome. What is interesting is how he covered Iran previously, which is separate from the question of why he covered it that way (a question that too easily becomes ad hominem).

Here is the example of when he covered Ayatollah Khamenei’s speech in March, during which Khamenei responded to President Obama’s Iranian New Year message. Roger Cohen wrote that:

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, responded to Obama with a scathing speech at the country’s holiest shrine in Mashad, recalling every past U.S. misdeed, describing prerevolutionary Iran as “a field
for the Americans to graze in,” and demanding concrete steps — like a lifting of sanctions — rather than words.

View all that as an opening gambit. Khamenei also quieted the crowd when it began its ritual “Death to America” chant and he said this: “We’re not emotional when it comes to our important matters. We make decisions by calculation.”

That’s right: the mullahs are anything but mad. Calculation will demand that Iran take Obama seriously.

Here is Khamenei’s speech from his official website. What is interesting is that official English translation changes "Death to America" to "Down with America." Here is the relevant section (Persian is here and clearly includes the words "Marg bar Amrika"):

The new US President insulted the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic right after he was inaugurated as President and delivered his inaugural address. Why? If you really believe there has been a change, show us. We cannot see any change. I would like to tell everybody - including US government officials as well as others - that the Iranian nation will neither be deceived nor intimidated.

First of all, verbal change is not enough. Of course I have not noticed much verbal change either. There must be genuine change. I would like to tell American government officials that the kind of change to which they only pay lip service is a necessity for them. You have no other choice: You must change. If you do not change, the divine laws of nature will force you to change. Nature will force you to change. You must change, but this change must not be in words only and there must be no ulterior motives. You cannot talk about change if you only change your policies and pursue the same goals. This kind of change does not constitute genuine change: That is deception. If there is any genuine change, it must manifest itself in action. I advise the US government officials or whoever makes the decisions there - be it the President, the Congress, or other people - that the situation in which the US government is involved is harmful to the American nation as well as the US government. You ought to know that you are one of the most hated countries in the world. Other nations burn your flag. Muslim nations shout "Down with the US" throughout the world. [Howard Baskerville note: at this point the crowd shouted “Death to America”]

What is the reason behind so much hatred? Have you ever tried to investigate this issue? Have you ever scrutinized it? Have you learnt any lessons?

That's right. Khamenei did not quieten his listeners' chants of "Death to America." He incited them.

Posted by Howard Baskerville at June 25, 2009 7:37 PM
Comments

In my experience it is hateful people who hate, and the hateful rarely hate the evil.

Posted by: Leauki Author Profile Page at June 26, 2009 4:35 AM

Hmm, interesting...

Posted by: chuck Author Profile Page at June 26, 2009 9:40 AM

That's really not a very good example of how Cohen has allegedly changed the tone of his reporting on Iran.
Just read what Cohen wrote: Khamenei had a point he was trying to make in his speech, and he wanted to finish it. The crowd began interrupting him with their chants. He continued making his point. That's it.
At no point in the section you quoted- at no point whatsoever- did Cohen ever say or even imply that Khamenei was ratcheting down the anti-American rhetoric.

Posted by: Larss Author Profile Page at June 26, 2009 11:25 AM

All of Seymour Hersh's men couldnt put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Its not Michael's fault that Roger Cohen was misleading when he implied that Khamenei quieted the crowd by telling them not to be emotional. Cohen wrote:

"View all that as an opening gambit. Khamenei also quieted the crowd when it began its ritual “Death to America” chant and he said this: “We’re not emotional when it comes to our important matters. We make decisions by calculation.

That’s right: the mullahs are anything but mad. Calculation will demand that Iran take Obama seriously.”

If you look at the video, at about 05:23 you will see that Khamenei doesnt use those words to quiet the crowd. It is in the middle of an uninterrupted stretch of his speech.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_oAHcsYqIs

In every instance that the audience screams "Death to America" Khamenei follows it up by condemning America, not in the manner of a "realist" in which Cohen suggests.

Its also interesting to read Cohen's condemnation of Shimon Peres back in March. Cohen dribbled:

"Already divergent U.S. and Israeli approaches to Iran were evident in Israeli President Shimon Peres’s coupling of his own Nowruz address to the Iranian people (not its leaders) with a statement predicting that they would rise up and topple “a handful of religious fanatics.”

Shimon Peres = 1
Cohen the Obama Sycophant = 0

Posted by: Freedom Now Author Profile Page at June 28, 2009 6:46 PM

(the italics dont carry over more than one paragraph in these comments. I have individually put the paragraphs into italics in this updated comment to correct this problem. Otherwise Khamenei's quote can be confusing.)

All of Seymour Hersh's men couldnt put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Its not Michael's fault that Roger Cohen was misleading when he implied that Khamenei quieted the crowd by telling them not to be emotional. Cohen wrote:

"View all that as an opening gambit. Khamenei also quieted the crowd when it began its ritual “Death to America” chant and he said this: “We’re not emotional when it comes to our important matters. We make decisions by calculation.

That’s right: the mullahs are anything but mad. Calculation will demand that Iran take Obama seriously.”

If you look at the video, at about 05:23 you will see that Khamenei doesnt use those words to quiet the crowd. It is in the middle of an uninterrupted stretch of his speech.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_oAHcsYqIs

In every instance that the audience screams "Death to America" Khamenei follows it up by condemning America, not in the manner of a "realist" in which Cohen suggests.

Its also interesting to read Cohen's condemnation of Shimon Peres back in March. Cohen dribbled:

"Already divergent U.S. and Israeli approaches to Iran were evident in Israeli President Shimon Peres’s coupling of his own Nowruz address to the Iranian people (not its leaders) with a statement predicting that they would rise up and topple “a handful of religious fanatics.”

Shimon Peres = 1
Cohen the Obama Sycophant = 0

Posted by: Freedom Now Author Profile Page at June 28, 2009 6:50 PM

Oh this post was uploaded by Howard Baskerville, not Michael. Hello Howard, I didnt know other people post to this blog.

Cheers.

Posted by: Freedom Now Author Profile Page at June 29, 2009 1:13 AM
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