Want a trip into bizarroland? Take a look at the Twitter feed for Iran's “Supreme Guide” Ayatollah Khamenei.
It's ridiculous that even though US President is black, still such crimes agnst US blacks continue to occur. #BlackLivesMatter #FreddieGray
No, his Twitter feed hasn't been hacked by Al Sharpton. Nor is this a spoof site. It's the real online megaphone for the Iranian dictator.
This pasty old man doesn't give a flying fork about black people, especially those who live in the United States. When he and his underlings chant “Death to America,” they don't mean death to white America. They're talking about the whole country, from our black president at the top to undocumented immigrants on the bottom and everyone in between.
Here are a few of his tweets for May Day.
It's not just a complement that the #Prophet kissed the hands of #workers, it's a lesson to all of us. #WorkersDay
Govt must not buy from outside #Iran its consuming goods which can be produced domestically. This is an example of honoring Iranian workers.
This one, though, is my favorite:
US Police kill people over any excuse; this type of power doesn't ensure security but leads to insecurity. #Baltimore
When Iranian-backed terrorists in Lebanon murdered former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri with a gigantic bomb in downtown Beirut, did that lead to security or insecurity? Did Iranian-backed death squads in Iraq lead to security or insecurity? How about the Iranian-sponsored Houthi takeover of Yemen? How's that going?
And what about Khamenei's Basij militia cracking heads during the Green Revolution and torturing activists in prison?
Ok, perhaps I'm being unfair. Wallowing in whataboutery is for college students, not serious analysts. Maybe Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders could come over here and teach American police officers about cultural sensitivity. The plainclothes Basijis could train our undercover police officers so incidents like this don't happen again. Iranian judges who sentence gay people to death by hanging from cranes could be guest lecturers at American law schools. Perhaps MSNBC could invite the warden of Evin Prison to host one of their shows in the next season's line-up.
Then again, maybe not. Washington Post journalist Jason Resaian—who is an American citizen, by the way—is languishing in Evin Prison right now. He was arrested last year and has been slapped with the ludicrous charges of “espionage” and “conducting propaganda against the establishment.”
I long ago lost track of how many times paranoid Middle Easterners thought I was a spy while I was working over there—many of them think every journalist in the world is a spy—but I can't remember the last time I took it seriously.
That second charge, though, “conducting propaganda against the establishment” is something every journalist who works in the Middle East has to be wary of. Almost every Middle Eastern country is a police state of one kind or another that can and will arrest anyone for any reason or no reason at all.
In 2005, a spokesman for Hezbollah—the Lebanese terrorist organization founded, funded, and controlled by the Iranian regime that is now tweeting “black lives matter”—called me at home and said, “we know who you are, we read everything you write, and we know where you live.” He accused me of “propagandizing against the party” because I cracked a joke about Hezbollah on my blog. I even made it clear in that very same blog post that it was a joke, so there was no misunderstanding.
From Hezbollah's and Iran's point of view, anything that doesn't precisely conform to the party line is propagandizing against the establishment or the party. Making sure everyone knows it, and knows there may be terrible consequences for anyone foolish or brave enough to give them the finger, is part of their mission statement.
And we're supposed to believe that the man who's in charge of all this cares even a whit about police violence in the United States or worker's rights on May Day?
Khamenei has 120,000 Twitter followers but only follows five people himself. Wondering who are the lucky five, I clicked to find out and discovered that three of them are his other accounts, one of them is from the ghost of his predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini, and the last is some random Islamic Twitter feed.
Twitter is a one-way conversation for this guy. Following other people? That's for teachable folks who might learn something from somebody else, or at least for those of us who are passively interested in what somebody else has to say.
Iran's ruler is doing what the Soviet Union used to do and what Hugo Chavez did more recently. Both used the West's language of human rights as weapons against the West while resisting everything Western human rights activists stand for. Partly they were just being cynical, and partly they were pointing out the West's supposed hypocrisy.
You could argue that I'm just doing what Khamenei is doing by saying the other guy has no clothes, but there's a difference, and it's crucial. I actually care about human rights, not just for Americans, but also for Iranians and everyone else. Plenty of Iranians care about human rights, too, but it's safe to say that pretty much none of them are fixtures in the Iranian government.
The most foolish among us might be convinced that tyrannical dictators on the other side of the planet care more about such things than we do. That's the theory, anyway. Hey, maybe the Iranian leader is one of us! Maybe everything our own government says is a lie!
Every village has its idiot. Moscow managed to sucker some of us during the Soviet era, at least for a while, with this sort of shtick. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez tricked a handful, as well. For years the Bolivarian Republic's embassy in Washington flooded my inbox with press releases that read like they were written by Elizabeth Warren.
The communist bloc was an unspeakable prison house spanning more than one continent, but its utopian ideals appeared lofty to a small percentage of Westerners who couldn't be bothered to look at the details. The utopian ideals of Iran's revolutionary regime, though, will never gain traction among those of us who aren't Shia Muslims.
Iran's tyrant will not pull this off, but it's fun watching him try.