CAIRO: Surely, Ahmedinejad is a nutcase.
Just look at him; he’s been wearing the same jacket for years, ever since we laid eyes on him. He’s unshaven, and unkempt. He exudes an informal, almost clumsy air and doesn’t seem like much of an orator. He’s soft-spoken enough to make a cynic disbelieve anything he says, and the claims that he’s still living in his old house and still driving his god-knows-how-old car all seem inherently ridiculous.
It was his idea to hold a “Holocaust Conference to weed out the truth about the Holocaust from the myths around it, and it is him that everybody (mistakenly) credits with wanting to annihilate our Zionist neighbors.
It’s easy to paint Ahmedinejad as a “petty, cruel, and ignorant dictator as he was described by his host, the President of Columbia University in New York, after being invited to speak there.
So now, we are told that Ahmedinejad has stolen the Iranian elections, that the people of Iran actually support a reformist opponent called Mousavi, and that the election has been rigged. The people of Iran have lost their voices. Their democracy has been hijacked by the Hitler-esque Madman of Tehran!
And then, of course, we have Neda.
It’s easy to get caught up in emotions. Thinking of those valiant, desperate Iranians – dying in the streets to bring democracy to their country, it’s easy to be swept away with sympathy. It’s easy to hate their oppressors.
It’s easy not to think.
First, let’s examine the whole ‘reformist’ argument. In 2005, it was the Guardian Council that banned all but six of the hopefuls for the elections and it was Khamenei that allowed two “reformist candidates to be included. So the inherent assumption that Khamenei is against “reform – is somewhat weak.
Then of course, there’s that little thing called evidence. The credibility given by the media to the possibility of “rigging so far exceeds any substantial evidence that it can only be indicative of the degree to which that self-same media wants Ahmedinejad to fail.
It’s too much of a margin, they say – but in fact, the margin is a few percent less than that predicted by a pre-election phone survey reported by Reuters. Discounting people who said they were undecided 34 percent said they’d vote for Ahmedinejad whereas only 14 percent said they’d vote for Mousavi. Even within the Azeri population (Mousavi’s constituency) Ahmedinejad beat his rival by 2:1.
But the results came out too fast, they say. In fact, there were 14,000 mobile ballot boxes, as well as 47,000 polling stations. With 39 million votes – that averages at less than 800 votes per station. It just doesn’t take that long to count 800 votes. The additional time usually allotted before results are announced is there to resolve any grievances or complaints – of which there were less than 500 filed for all 51,000 stations. The rush to announce a result was in fact precipitated by Mousavi. Unwittingly or not – he is the one who set up his supporters to feel that something (that they had) had now been “taken from them.
Some things just make a good story.
Much has been made of the “digital revolution taking place. The Twittering Revolutionaries using The All American.Twitter, of all things, to take down the Iron Mullahs makes for a great story.
There’s another one though – noticed by an investigative blogger and confirmed by looking at the respective Twitter accounts. A large bulk of those Twitter messages were written by a handful of users – users whose accounts had all been created on June 13, and had not published a single message before that day. These users published on average between 100-300 messages per day – about once every five minutes. And then – as though engaged in some marketing ballet, the Jerusalem Post mentioned those Twitterers in an article published on its website on the June 14, the very next day.
On June 17, the BBC published a picture of flag-bearing Iranians at a rally and labeled it as a Pro-Mousavi rally. When some online investigators realized that the photo was, in fact, a crop of a Pro-Ahemdinejad rally photograph with Ahmedinejad cut out of the frame, the BBC apologized formally on their website, stating simply that it was a mistake. The current caption now reads “Tehran has seen massive demonstrations by all sides since the disputed election.
Maybe they just don’t know how to spell Ahmedinejad.
During the run up to the US Invasion of Iraq in 1991 – the US realized it needed a marketing “hook to sell the invasion. The American PR firm Hill & Knowlton then coached and prepared the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador who went on to tell a congressional committee, and the world about the terrible Iraqi soldiers who were killing incubator babies in a hospital in which she’d worked as a nurse while in Kuwait. The story was eventually discredited – but the damage had been done.
One wonders why it is Neda that is now filling up the headlines, and why the media is awash with poetic biographies of Neda when it has never bothered to give similar attention to the victims that fall in Iraq or in Palestine or in Afghanistan at the hands of American and Israeli forces.
One also wonders how far $400 million can go – since according to a New Yorker report, this is the sum given to the CIA in 2007 to affect an overthrow of the Iranian regime.
When Ahmedinejad was insulted by his host at Columbia University before he had even spoken, he replied by saying that he was unfamiliar with America but that in his country, guests are not invited to an occasion simply to be insulted and ridiculed. The same Columbia students who clapped when he was insulted by their President applauded Ahmedinejad when he made that statement.
Their minds, apparently, are easy to sway.
Omar Kamel is a writer, musician, and producer. You can read more of his commentary at karmamole.com