Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas in Iran: Foreign Affairs According to Planet Rockwell

Guest post:

Maybe this time it's a case of too much eggnog at But I could pull up dozens of articles which illustrate the jejune quality of much of that site's political analysis over the years. I can remember one item from awhile back which held up the Balkans as a good example of political decentralization and self-determination. The Balkans!? Well, never mind.

Instead, how about this slush piece on Iran (no pun intended): "A Christian Christmas in Snowy Iran" by William Wedin (December 20, 2007). Synopsis: the author sets out to prove that there is social normalcy and religious tolerance in Iran after "surfing the web for photos of Iran." An amazing depth of research from a college professor. Has he been to Iran? Does he take into account reports from just about everyone on the planet, including Amnesty International (not exactly "neo-con central") about the totalitarian abuses in Iran? Dr. Wedin also runs a site called Photo Activists for Peace. He wants to bring 1960s "flower power" pacifism back to the U.S. Didn't we already have enough of that? Apparently he didn't learn the lesson that the rest of us did, that the peace movements since World War II were largely tools for totalitarian apologists, bankrolled by rogue nations, and championed by ideological nitwits.

"Photos are egalitarian...." Wedin proclaims. "They are the most libertarian mode of communication that we have in common." The photos of a winter resort town in Iran are indeed charming to look at, but this a rather hasty assertion. Recent history demonstrates that there is probably no more potentially manipulative form of communication that the photograph. While browsing in libraries over the years I've found similar depictions of normalcy in the photojournalism of Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany: people shopping, playing games, joking, eating, flirting, etc. In the case of the Third Reich one can even find pictures of Christians attending Church (just like the ones Dr. Wedin shows in his essay). The sensible deduction is not that Iran is an absolute social wasteland in which every single inhabitant is killed or locked-up. Not even Stalin managed that much. But a government doesn't have to be 100% bad to be a threat to its inhabitants or its neighbors.

Most of the hype is on Dr. Wedin's side. There may be some lowbrows who think we should "murder" Iran (as Rockwell puts it on his homepage). I don't think annihilation is the aim of the U.S. government now, anymore than it was when we were fighting Hitler in the 1940s. There were some nut-jobs advocating the extermination of the German people back then, but no one listened to them. In conclusion, while the Rockwell crowd likes to boast of its economic rationalism—and no doubt has some very sensible things on that score—the commentary on most every other subject is so consistently distraught one feels that the Rockwellians should stick to their core subject.

P.S. For a very different commentary that shows how Christians can work with non-fanatical Muslims (thanks to a little armed American intervention) see Chris Blosser's recent post on Christmas in Iraq.

Related comments, see: "Mike Huckabee and the View from Planet Rockwell."