Christmas with Ahmadinejad

December 26, 2008 at 12:15 am | Posted in International, Media | Leave a comment

We hide it well with all the carols, fairy lights and attempts at bonhomie, but Christmas isn’t really more or less sincere than any other time of the year. We still send Christmas cards to people we barely know, still make merry with co-workers we can’t stand, and still wince in the presence of relatives we usualy make no effort to see.

Even so, none of our humdrum hypocrisies or staged acts of sincerity are anywhere near the dappy doublespeak that Iran’s smirking propagandist has ‘treated‘ us to. Offering warm congratulations to ‘followers of Abrahamic faiths’ and ‘the people of Britain’, Ahmadinejad reminds us that Jesus is “the standard-bearer of justice, of love for our fellow human beings, of the fight against tyranny, discrimination and injustice.”

All this coming from the President of a country which has stoned women, hung children, executed gays and arrested women’s rights activists. To paraphrase the late, great Adrian Mitchell, from his mouth the words sounded like a fart.

On the question of whether or not his message should’ve been shown, I think it’s possible for good people to disagree. Peter Tatchell has always been a laudably consistent ‘No Platform’ campaigner, whilst Channel 4 are right to point out that their network has done more than any other to increase our country’s understanding of the Middle East’s most recent bête noire.

The response of our elected officials, on the other hand, has been less than impressive. Conservative MP Mark Pritchard couldn’t stop himself from using it as an opportunity to tout the Tories’ longstanding desire to privatise C4, and as for the Foreign Office’s port-fuelled fuming, well, I’d feel a lot more sympathetic to their human rights stance if we weren’t about to deport a Zimbabwean refugee who was raped and tortured at the hands of Mugabe’s henchmen.

I lean towards the position that it shouldn’t have been shown, but we should at least remember that his message was hardly given a prominent or prestigious slot. His predecessors are so illustrious as to include Ali G, Marge Simpson, Jamie Oliver and Sharon Osbourne. I mean, it’s hardly the Dimbleby Lecture, is it? Frankly, it’s hard to see Ahmadinejad’s 15 minutes of pompous pieties as anything more than some cheaply-made, space-filling ephemera from the premier purveyors of car crash TV, and which puts the President of Iran in the same company as a few nondescript, C-list celebrities. That’s still far more than he deserves, of course, but is also far less of a propaganda coup than this obsessive self-publicist thinks he’s won.

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