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Monday, March 23, 2009

Cleverness or wishful thinking?

At Jihad Watch, Hugh Fitzgerald thinks that President Obama's appeal to Iran is a bit more clever than others have made it out to be (Hat Tip: FinanceDoc):
There was a subtle subtext in this message, the one that is not at all favorable to the Islamic Republic of Iran, but rather attempts to camouflage a message to "the Iranian people" (i.e., those who are capable of thought in Iran). This message takes the occasion of a non-Islamic holiday, one deplored by Islamic clerics, to also show an awareness of and to lavish praise upon features of Iranian history that are not at all necessarily tied to Islam and, in many cases are pre-Islamic, or non-Islamic, or openly hostile to the "invaders" -- the Arabs -- who brought the "gift" of Islam to Iran. For example, while only a single line of Sa'adi is quoted, the Persian audience will be flattered, but also then bethink themselves, and the names of other Persian poets will come to mind. Sa'adi himself, a singer of bulbuls and romance and roses in far-off Gulistan. Firdowsi, of the "Shahnameh," who helped preserve Iran from Arab cultural and linguistic imperialism. And those praisers of romance and wine will also come to mind. Both Omar Khayyam in his quatrains (rubaiyaas) and Hafiz in his ghazals, he of the same Shiraz as Sa’adi, are both far more Persian. And Khayyam was even a free-thinker.

Art is mentioned in the message from Obama. But what will Iranians think about when they encounter this word “art” in a message from the President of the United States? Everyone knows that Islam bans most forms of artistic expression. Everyone knows that, where art exists in Muslim lands -- save for Qur'anic calligraphy, and mosque architecture and adornment -- it exists despite, in defiance of, the prohibitions of Islam. So Iranians will read that word "Art" and they will no doubt be put in mind, most immediately, either of the great art of the pre-Islamic civilization of Iran, such as the monuments at Persepolis (now threatened by the Islamic regime), or of other art -- Persian miniatures. Why, imagine the difficulty any American President would have in a message to Saudi Arabia, attempting to praise the non-existent art of that bleakly Islamic land.
It's conceivable that Fitzgerald has captured Obama's intent where others have missed it. On the other hand, had Obama appealed to Islamic scholarship, he would have looked like even more of a supplicant than he did already. In other words, the only way to maintain even the pretense of not being a vassal bowing before a lord was to refer to matters that have no connection (except for a rival or hostile connection) to Islam.

I'm afraid that if you asked the average Iranian, their response would be that Obama's message shows erudition regarding Persian civilization, but words directed at the current leadership like "We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect," and words like "The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran [and not 'the Iranian people' CiJ] to take its rightful place in the community of nations," make the message one of reaching out to the current Islamist government rather than to the people of Iran.

Given that Iran's nuclear drive has almost reached 3:00 am, no one has time for that now.


At 11:44 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

The US endorses the oppressive Islamist regime. How does that square with Iranian freedom? To put it simply, recognizing the legitimacy of the mullahs' theocracy is incompatible with American national interests as well as Middle East peace.

Obama fell far short of the mark. No one has the time to even party like its 1938!


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