The Amateur Propagandists

Right-wing bloggers and their supporters perpetuate myths about Iran in a push for war

In and around May 19 (it’s hard to remember the exact date and the article has since disappeared from the web), the [tag]National Post[/tag] ran a front-page story by neo-con writer Amir Taheri about Iran. It claimed Iran was passing a law that required religious minorities like Jews and Christians to wear colour-coded badges identifying their religion.

The article was soon picked up by major news organizations, causing outrage among columnists, bloggers and prime minister Stephen Harper, who said, “We’ve seen a number of things from the Iranian regime that are along these lines…It boggles the mind that any regime on the face of the Earth would want to do anything that could remind people of Nazi Germany.”

But the story wasn’t true.

Regardless, in a phenomenon reminiscent of Iraqi WMDs, just because it isn’t true hasn’t stopped people from believing it. Small Dead Animals posted the story when it broke, quoting Bernard Lewis as saying “I feel it’s 1938 again”. But SDA and friends are not backing down, posting a lame response by the original author who says he “raised the issue not as a news story” and in general making the case that regardless of whether or not the story is true, Iran is evil/needs to be bombed/needs to be invaded/etc.

Michelle Malkin also posted about the story, although she has since qualified the story with a link that says it “may not be true” [emphasis mine]. Malkin is popular among conservatives, and her post alerted numerous conservative bloggers who proceeded to feature the story. Not all of them have informed their readers that the story is false. Here is a sampling:

Iran might as well put different colored bullseyes on Jews and Christians backs instead.

When will the Ayatollah come out with a small mustache and goose step to Wagner?

Westerners have no clue of the barbarity that followers of Islam have toward their fellow man.

No one took Hitler seriously back in the 30’s.

Iran Needs To Be Taken Out

In the comments on Right Voices, we’ve got: “We shoud put bullseyes on muslims…”; “Mohammed was no saint. He was a pedophile, plain and simple.”; “Islam is evil on earth, mohammed mass murdered millions of people”; and more cheerful musings.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad IS a madman, whether you want to admit it or not. As many others have mentioned, the parallels between this lunatic and Adolph Hitler are very similar.

I agree there are parallels between Nazi Germany and today. Parallels such as aggressive nationalism, patriotic jingoism, and rigid right-wing ideology. Plus, a vast propaganda apparatus, with one remarkable difference between then and now: then, the apparatus was operated by the state. Today, the state merely needs to give a little shove in the right direction, and legions of amateur propagandists take over.

[tags]right-wing propaganda, Iran, Amir Taheri, Islam, Iranian colour-coded badge story[/tags]

6 Responses to “The Amateur Propagandists”
  1. Tim:

    The Post printed a lengthy (half a page) retraction today. I can see where they went wrong – they got confirmation from Iranian exiles and the Weisenthal center, among other sources (and the Iranian embassy refused to comment). Of course, that’s not an excuse for lacking hard facts, but I’d suggest it’s more a case of wanting to believe in the story rather than purposefully printing propaganda. Now, if this was about Opus Dei apologia, I’d be fully on your side…

    The interesting thing here is that while everyone leaped on the inaccuracies of the story, nobody seemed to care that Iran was legislating more restrictive and oppressive clothing for women. THAT’S A BAD THING!

  2. It has too often been said that Amir Taheri, the slanderous article’s writer, is a member of Benador Associates and has written for this or that newspaper. But you need to go much further back in his career to understand who he is. As executive editor-in-chief of Iran’s main daily newspaper, Kayhan, between 1972 and 1979, he was very close to the Shah. The Revolution deprived him of his high position, and he has been taking revenge by writing lies and slander ever since. His Wikipedia biography is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amir_Taheri

  3. Ade:

    Tim, can you summarize the Post’s retraction, and perhaps quote some of the most relevant lines?

    Al S E, that’s interesting, thanks for the info.

  4. My biggest problem with this story was how the bloggers and media who were so quick to give it play were on a lot quieter on the fact that the story was a complete falshood. I am wholeheartedly against the idea of a muslim theocracy ruling a country anywhere but I’m also against the deliberate spread of lies.

  5. Tim wrote:

    I can see where they went wrong – they got confirmation from Iranian exiles and the Weisenthal center, among other sources (and the Iranian embassy refused to comment).

    Exactly the same sorts of places from which the North American media got their “evidence” that Iraq was harbouring terrorists, aiding al-Qaeda, and hiding weapons of mass destruction.

    After all the hand-wringing and apologia from the media after they completely failed to notice that the Bush administration was blowing smoke up their asses over Iraq (something I was able to determine from the strategic command centre of my living room by mid-2002), they’ve learned absolutely nothing about sourcing publicly available facts, trusting interested parties, or subjecting government claims to minimal standards of proof.

    In other words, they’re still functioning nicely as the mouthpiece of the war machine.


  6. […] to a leftie-in-denial blog declaring me, along with a host of other conservative blogs, an “Amateur Propogandist“. And decrying the fact that I hadn’t posted later that the “news” […]