Guardian Left comic moral equivalence watch: CiF’s Medhi Hasan shills for Iran

One of the most defining features of the far (Guardian-style) left is a refusal to discriminate between liberal democratic states and backwards totalitarian regimes.

During the Cold War, such dupes were seen shilling for the Soviet Union, or their client states in Europe and Central America.

Today, this dynamic is at play in the moral equivalence posited between Islamists and the West.

Even so, you really have to try hard to defend the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran, though economically stagnant, does lead the world in one notable category: the export of terrorism.

Their President also has the nasty little habit of denying the Nazi Holocaust, while inciting for another one.

No matter, in the post-colonial world which Medhi Hasan occupies, the theocratic regime is the victim of the arrogance of imperialist Western powers.

Medhi Hassan’s recent CiF post, “If you lived in Iran, wouldn’t you want the nuclear bomb?“, Nov. 17, isn’t surprising to anyone familiar with the New Statesman (and Channel 4) editor’s politics.  

Hasan opposes a two-state solution because such a formula would recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state.

He’s also excused antisemitism – in the polemical spirit of Ben White – as the natural reaction to Israeli policy.

Further, Hasan is a religious extremist who literally likened those who don’t accept the teachings of Islam to cattle.

So, Hasan’s apologia for the mullahs in Iran flows naturally from his Guardian-style politics.

In his latest polemical tale, Hasan asks us to empathize with the plucky Iranian underdog “surrounded on all sides by virulent enemies and regional rivals, both nuclear and non-nuclear.”

And, though Hasan, as with the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker, sows doubt on the “question” of whether Iran is indeed attempting to build a nuclear weapon – contradicting the findings of the latest IAEA report – he nonetheless asks:

“If you were our mullah in Tehran, wouldn’t you want Iran to have the bomb?”

Adds Hasan:

“[When it comes to Iran] Empathy is in short supply… the Islamic Republic is dismissed as irrational and megalomaniacal.”

And, herein lies the quintessential post-modern moral equivalence. 

It takes a lot of ideological conditioning to see the reactionary, theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran as the protagonist. 

Freedom House’s survey of Iran ranked the county as among the worst human rights violators in the world.

Per Freedom House’s 2011 report on Iran:

Opposition politicians and party groupings have faced especially harsh repression since the 2009 presidential election, with many leaders—including former lawmakers and cabinet ministers—facing arrest, prison sentences, and lengthy bans on political activity.

Freedom of expression is severely limited. The government directly controls all television and radio broadcasting. Satellite dishes are illegal…Even the purchase of satellite images from abroad is illegal. The Ministry of Culture must approve publication of all books and inspects foreign books prior to domestic distribution.

The Press Court has extensive power to prosecute journalists for such vaguely worded offenses as “insulting Islam” 

Iran leads the world in the number of jailed journalists

Key international social-media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are blocked

Religious freedom is limited in Iran, whose population is largely Shiite Muslim but includes Sunni Muslim, Baha’i, Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian minorities. The Special Court for the Clergy investigates religious figures for alleged crimes and has generally been used to persecute clerics who stray from the official interpretation of Islam. Ayatollah Seyd Hussain Kazemeini Boroujerdi, a cleric who advocates the separation of religion and politics, is currently serving 11 years in prison for his beliefs

Conversion by Muslims to a non-Muslim religion is punishable by death.

Some 300,000 Baha’is, Iran’s largest non-Muslim minority, are not recognized in the constitution, enjoy virtually no rights under the law, and are banned from practicing their faith…Hundreds of Baha’is have been executed since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, and at least 60 were in prison in 2010 because of their beliefs.

Academic freedom is limited. Scholars are frequently detained, threatened, and forced to retire for expressing political views, and students involved in organizing protests face suspension or expulsion in addition to criminal punishments

The constitution prohibits public demonstrations that “violate the principles of Islam,”

security services routinely arrest and harass secular activists as part of a wider effort to control nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

Iranian law does not allow independent labor unions

The country’s penal code is based on Sharia and provides for flogging, amputation, and execution by stoning or hanging for a range of social and political offenses; these punishments are carried out in practice.

Suspected [political] dissidents are frequently held in unofficial, illegal detention centers. Prison conditions in general are notoriously poor, and there are regular allegations of abuse, torture, and death in custody. Male and female detainees alleged rape by security forces in the second half of 2009;

Women do not enjoy equal rights under Sharia-based statutes governing divorce, inheritance, and child custody…A woman’s testimony in court is given only half the weight of a man’s,

It would certainly seem difficult for a genuine progressive – even those who are strangely unmoved by the Iranian President’s frequent call for the annihilation of the Jewish state – to empathize with the nuclear aspirations of a regime which rules in manner so fundamentally at odds with even the broadest understanding of progressive values.

Iran may severely oppress women, gays, religious minorities and political dissidents, but, as this blog continues to demonstrates, Guardian left values continue to be defined by this reflexive and comically facile ideology which posits that the enemy of the United States, Israel and the West is necessarily worthy of our sympathy.

Medhi Hasan’s latest commentary demonstrates that those predisposed to shilling for enemies of the democratic West didn’t disappear following the fall of the Soviet Union.  

They merely adapted to the new political environment, and found new, creative ways to defend the morally indefensible. 

9 replies »

  1. ““[When it comes to Iran] Empathy is in short supply… the Islamic Republic is dismissed as irrational and megalomaniacal.”

    Is this for real? Why should we empathise with Iran (and that is leaving aside the fact that it is unable to empathise not only with us but with any others, full stop)? Will empathising with these people actually prevent them from harming us?

    And as for irrational and meglomaniacal, well, how else can we describe a florid lunatic who believes that he will usher in the 12th Imam literally in a blaze of (probably nuclear) glory – see

    Islamism is an operational definition of meglomania writ large.

    Empathy has to be two way. Islamists are terminally compromised.

    And as for Mehdi Hassan, what else can one expect from such a one but this sort of stupidity? Quite apart from the links at the foot of the article, Hassan’s reputation goes before him. This is why the Guardian is terminally morally bankrupt if it allows such a one to write anything at all for it:–-atheists-and-disbelievers-are-“cattle”-and-“of-no-intelligence”/

  2. Off topic, but symptomatic of the curious disconnect from reality or insight or possession of any theory of mind whatsoever:

    On the topic of the capture of Saef Qadaffi and hoping he’ll get a fair trail, one lunatic of import (? UK Foreign Office but can’t be sure) opined that he could understand why Qadaffi met the end he did but could not condone it. He reminded me of the Ben (very off-) White and his burblings of how he could understand antisemitism although he wasn’t an antisemite (no, not much..)

    Why are governments so eager to “understand” these animals?

  3. Here is Der Guardians “man of peace”.

    “Death to America” chants in Iran

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: “Death to Israel”

    And Der Fascist Guardian still believes that the Islamic Republic only wants “atoms for peace”? What KIND of peace?

    I wish for the Islamic Republic what it wishes for the US and Israel.

  4. In the Statesman he quoted Khomeini to deny Iran wanted nukes.
    As once the Ayatollah said nukes were unislamic or something…

    Hasan is a militant Islamist (a term which got me censored on Harrys on their post on Hasan) and he is spewing takiya

    It’s not complicated.

  5. I agree with Amaros. Hassan is not what he pretends to be.

    If you listen to Medhi Hassan’s infamous “non-Muslims live like cattle” speech, you can hear the wailing religious fervour in his voice. Underneath his business suit lies a real fanatic.

    Hassan is perfect for Al Guardian, who continue to showcase him despite his Islamic hate speech. This is yet another indicator of their moral blindness and double standards which have alienated so many of their former readers.

  6. Typical bias from Hasan. He would have us give consideration to the Iranian perspective. In theory that’s OK in itself – except I cannot imagine him ever penning a similar piece calling for sympathy for the Israeli POV.

  7. I recommend the recent book Assassins of the Turquoise Palace by Tehran born Roya Hakakian — after recommending it several times on ” Comment is Free” my account was suspended — which I almost immediately realized was an excellent thing! as this website and comments here make amply clear.