Imagine for a moment that a Western head of state (let’s say America) was also a follower of a messianic religious cult considered outlandish and cranky by the overwhelming majority of Christians.
Imagine – that whilst addressing the UN General Assembly’s opening session – that head of state launched into a prescription for the world’s ills based on that cult’s predictions, which included the arrival of a saviour brought about by world apocalypse.
In such a situation, would the Guardian’s next day commentary have been confined to “unusually esoteric”, or would a barrage of analysis and criticism have followed?
“Unusually esoteric” was all Julian Borger could find to say about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Wednesday speech at the UN GA, although he did throw in a quote from a ‘European diplomat’ who found the address “incoherent and incredibly boring”.
Mind you, Borger also heard only one reference to Israel in the speech (there are three direct ones) but that is perhaps to be expected from someone who also seems to have doubts regarding the interpretation of remarks made by the same speaker two days previously.
“No American diplomats were in the chamber for Ahmadinejad’s speech because of what Washington viewed as offensive remarks the Iranian leader had made about Israel earlier in the week.” [emphasis added]
The messianic rant (not his first) on the subject of the coming of the Mahdi, or Hidden Twelfth Imam, which closed Ahmadinejad’s speech does not even get a mention from Borger. It is difficult to imagine that the same would have been the case were Ahmadinejad the leader of a Western country.
And that in itself says an awful lot about the self-censorship arising from double standards of cultural relativity, as employed by Guardian writers in general and frequent writer on Iran Julian Borger in particular.