On Saturday, I went two for two, as they say in baseball: two online comments submitted in response to New York Times op-eds, two online comments censored. Nothing remarkable about that, unless I have so irritated The Times that they have decided not to post any more of my comments. Needless to say, I sent a protest via e-mail to Clark Hoyt, Public Editor of The Times:
You claim . . . that my comments have not been posted because they were "off the topic".
I have just been censored again. My censored comment to Cohen's op-ed, "Iran's Second Sex", of today's date, quotes Cohen three times:
In "Iran's Second Sex", Roger Cohen writes: "The mullahs of Qom have lots of training in how to say the opposite of what they said before." Apparently, Qom's mullahs are not the only ones with this skill: Cohen has seamlessly moved from regime empathizer to regime detractor.
Roger now tells us that Neda "personifies a certain Iran that I've tried to evoke since the beginning of this year." Oh, really. I remember a protracted media campaign , relentlessly informing us that Iran is "not totalitarian".
Roger also tells us in this op-ed that Iran is "a real country with real people rather than a bunch of zealous clerics posing a nuclear problem." I've got news for you, Roger, North Korea is also a real country with real people, but this does not diminish the dire nuclear problem posed by its totalitarian dictator.
Yes, Iranian women are oppressed, and this should have been noted by you long ago.
Likewise the time has come for you to make amends and forthrightly describe the horrifying persecution of Iran's Baha'is, a matter to which you have devoted no more than a single sentence in the past six months.
Also, you need to revisit Iran's tiny, frightened Jewish community. It is now time to report what Iran's Jews, who fled Iran and are no longer afraid to tell the truth, have to say.
If you wish to claim that my comment of today's date was not on-topic, please justify the posting of comment no. 35, which states in its entirety:
One wonders what this country would look like the fundamentalist religious conservative wing of the Republican Party took power.
Kindly explain to me how the rejection of my comment does not amount to vulgar, politicized censorship by The Times of dissenting opinion. You claim that The Times is a proponent of "robust debate", yet here is your answer, real time.
If "censorship" and "anti-Semitism" are of interest to you and you wish to discuss these matters, my telephone number appears below.
Clark Hoyt, notwithstanding his sincerity (see his e-mail to me in my prior post), did not call me. So let's get back to "Borat".
In "Borat", a reporter from Kazakhstan, who speaks broken English and is unfamiliar with American culture, is sent across the U.S. to recount his experiences. Absurd as the plot of "Borat" might seem, is it any less absurd than what The Times did: sending Roger Cohen, who does not speak Farsi and has no degrees in Middle Eastern studies, on two whirlwind tours of Persia? The results speak for themselves:
- In "The Other Iran" (February 1), Cohen declares that the "Islamic Revolution has proved resilient in part through flexibility", and "axis-of-evil myopia has led U.S. policy makers to underestimate the social, psychological and political forces for pragmatism, compromise and stability" in Iran.
- In "Reading Khamenei in Tehran" (February 18), Cohen insists that "Khamenei sees his primary task as safeguarding a revolution whose core values include . . . social justice."
- In "What Iran's Jews Say" (February 22), we are told that the "reality of Iranian civility toward Jews tells us more about Iran - its sophistication and culture - than all the inflammatory rhetoric." Cohen fails to inform us that he was speaking with Iranian Jews via an interpreter who was reporting back to the Iranian government. He also fails to inform us of what he later acknowledged at Sinai Temple: the Jews with whom he spoke were exercising self-censorship.
- In "From Tehran to Tel Aviv" (March 22), Cohen tells us that the Iranian "regime's provocative rhetoric masks essential pragmatism" and "the mullahs are anything but mad". Cohen goes on to claim that Supreme Leader Khamenei quieted a crowd chanting "Death to America!", but Cohen, who does not speak Farsi, could not possibly understand the subtleties of Khamenei's speech.
- In "Israel Cries Wolf" (April 8), Cohen concludes: "What's critical right now is that Obama view Netanyahu's fear-mongering with an appropriate skepticism, rein him in, and pursue his regime-recognizing opening toward Tehran".
- In "Iran Awakens Yet Again" (June 10), Cohen enthuses: "For months now, I've been urging another look at Iran, beyond dangerous demonization of it as a totalitarian state. Seldom has the country looked less like one than in these giddy June days." Cohen describes Iran's democracy as "incomplete but vigorous".
- In "Iran's Day of Anguish" (June 14), Cohen acknowledges "I erred in underestimating the brutality and cynicism of a regime that understands the uses of ruthlessness."
- In "My Name Is Iran" (June 18), Cohen attributes great symbolic significance to the response "My name is Iran", when he asks the name of a young female protester. Apparently unbeknownst to Cohen, "Iran" is a common woman's name in Iran (there is a book by Ms. Iran Davar Ardalan, entitled "My Name Is Iran"). Cohen labels Moussavi "the reformist of impeccable revolutionary credentials". No mention that as prime minister, Moussavi presided over the execution of thousands of dissidents. No mention that Moussavi defended the taking of hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran and backed the fatwa against British author Salman Rushdie.
- In "Children of Tomorrow" (June 22), Cohen describes his meeting with the son of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, whom Cohen calls "the establishment's embittered eminence grise". Cohen fails to note that Rafsanjani, a leading backer of the "reformist" Moussavi, is charged by Argentine prosecutors with masterminding the 1994 suicide bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which resulted in the murder of 85 people and the serious wounding of 151.
- In "Iran's Second Sex" (June 26) Cohen acknowledges that Iranian women's "subjugation became a pillar of the Islamic state," despite his original premise that the Islamic revolution's "core values" include "social justice". Cohen complains that Qom's mullahs "have lots of training in how to say the opposite of what they said before."
Notwithstanding all of the above, The Times is now holding Cohen out as an "expert" on Iran. In his column "On the Ground", fellow New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof complimented Cohen on his "superb columns" and invited The Times' readers to submit their questions to Cohen.
Thanks, but I think Cohen lost his credibility long ago. Submit a question to Cohen or watch "Borat" for the umpteenth time? You know what I'm going to choose.