23 May 2006

Yellow badge

So you may have heard this story kicking around about a new dress code law in Iran which requires folks of religious minorities to wear colored strips of cloth identifying them: red for Christians, blue for Zoroastrians, and ... you students of the Holocaust see it coming ... yellow for Jews. And so maybe you're like me and you know that Iran is a theocracy, with all kinds of bad stuff happening in it, so it seems plausible, if even more chilling than anything you've heard about before.

One thing, though. The story isn't true. Even the source where I first saw it is backing off.

Jim Henley at High Clearing got suckered by the story and circulated it ... but then very shortly afterword did some meticulous following up and found that the story came from a dubious source and doesn't survive scrutiny.

Now I'm pleased to see that Right Blogistan has picked up the ball and corrected the story. But as Henly observes in a later post the damage is done.

Taheri and The Post ran a provably false report, on their own initiative or at the behest of some publicity-shy agency of some government or other, played in as inflammatory way as possible. Why? So that months from now, someone hearing about plans to bomb Iran, or seeing footage of bombing on TV, will say to themselves, “Didn’t I read that Iran was going to round up all the Jews and make them wear yellow stars like the Nazis? Something like that. Well, good riddance.” All the story had to do was live long enough to get into circulation.

Okay, that's not the fault of Right Blogistan—that's just how the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy operates. But I'm not going to break my arm patting Right Blogistan on the back for getting this one right. Consider this, the very first sentence of a post from Alexandra von Maltzan at All Things Beautiful.

It really doesn't matter whether or not the Iranian Mullahs have actually passed the law forcing Iranian Jews and Christians to wear colored badges identifying them as non-Muslims.

Wait, it doesn't matter? Why?

Because Ms von Maltzan has telepathic powers, and can thus inform us that Iran's leaders are all ...

most certainly breathlessly awaiting the day when such laws are testament to their progress towards establishing the Caliphat, complete with Shari'a laws imposing segregation of first class, i.e. Muslims and second class citizens, otherwise known as Dhimmis, whose right to live depends at best on their ability to pay ‘protection tax’, or Jizya poll tax

Those tricky Islamofascists! They didn't pass that law, but you just know they wanted to!


Alexandra said...

Umh, OK Johnathan, I understand that you are trying to achieve maximum effect by quoting paragraphs out of context, but perhaps this explanation will help if you are at all interested in what I am actually saying rather than simply looking for a link to a right wing conspirator to bash. I am a libertarian btw, but oh well I shan't quibble.

Taheri's sentence no 1) "The law mandates the government to make sure that all Iranians wear "standard Islamic garments" designed to remove ethnic and class distinctions reflected in clothing, and to eliminate "the influence of the infidel" on the way Iranians, especially, the young dress."

We have had that confirmed.

Immediately followed by the controversial sentence no 2) "It also ENVISAGES [emphasis mine] to separate dress codes for religious minorities, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, who will have to adopt distinct colour schemes to make them identifiable in public."

We know that this has been "envisaged" and discussed. We also know that this is nothing new. It may have even been a part of earlier versions of the law. The code was only abolished in 1908, and historic precedent is very comfortable with this idea dating back as far as Caliph Omar II in 717AD.

Much has been made of the fact that the law makes "no mention" of it. Just because a document "makes no mention" of something does not mean it is not - under a definition of "standard" - "implied."

Taheri points out that the finalities of the law need to be discussed. Being privee to some of these discussions that have taken place thus far, is not something that should surprise anyone, considering Taheri was the editor of Iran's largest newspaper.

A committee has been appointed to work out the modalities of implementation.

This is hardly cause for a credibility check of the supposed "secondary motion" in question (this has been confirmed), that fits the pattern of laws that Iran has already instituted.

The very fact that it is envisaged, discussed and considered is bad enough. These guys are just warming up, and Taheri is simply pointing to the outrage.

I would rather believe Taheri's sources in Iran than the left wing apologists, who are busy looking for "the good in Ahmadinejad's letter" and Islam in general, and confirmation of Iran's peaceful intentions, rather than recognizing it as a da'wa (an invitation to convert to Islam), a prerequisite for waging war, which it actually is.

Splitting hairs with Farsi translations and claiming that Ahmadinejad did not announce his wish to annihilite Israel is just ludicrous.

Let me stand with Taheri on this any day of the week, what I see as opposition to his view on this, even on the right, I do not like. But then I have been labeled as a Nazi for daring to agree with him. The mind boggles, elevating me to dizzy heights of recognition as the world's genocidal maniac.

Jonathan Korman said...

Allow me to clarify the measure of my criticism.

I am not calling you a “right wing conspirator,” I am calling you a voice of “Right Blogistan” in the context of distinguishing and relating the two with respect to this story. If it's not evident from my tone, let me underline that I choose the whimsical expressions “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” and “Right Blogistan” in part to recognize that I am painting with a broad brush collections of folks who are not monolithic entities. Mr Taheri and his sponsor Benador Associates are part of the VRWC, who manipulate the news media by feeding them false or misleading information to repeat, as in the badges story. Right Blogistan includes right-leaning political bloggers, and given the content and linking of your blog, I think it's fair to place you in that broad category.

My point was that the VRWC, in the form of Mr Taheri, had ginned up a false story, and that Right Blogistan was admirably admitting that the story was false ... while not-so-admirably asserting that it didn't matter so much that the story was wrong because it was nonetheless true in spirit. I chose your quote as a particularly dramatic example of this second assertion, and I think the rest of your original post, as well as your comment here, bear that out.

As for your assertions that the story is true in spirit, I'm not seeing you cite any facts about this law that are not ultimately sourced from Mr Taheri, as Henley and Allahpundit have cautioned. You assert that you are willing to rely on Mr Taheri's reliability, but I do not share your high assessment of him. As Henley observed, we must take political exiles' reporting with a grain of salt, as we might have learned from the example of Ahmed Chalabi and Iraq.

Yes, jihadist thinking and rhetoric in the Muslim world is scary. Yes, Iran in particular has a worrisome and unwholesome regime. Yes, Islam has a history that suggests the potential for war and political repression. I find the actual facts of these matters troubling enough ... as does Juan Cole, who you dismiss simply as a “lefty apologist” for reading Ahmadinejad's letter in the original Farsi and reporting what he sees.

But I share Prof Cole's belief that it does not serve us well to exaggerate these dangers and further stoke the flames of fear in this country, as you are doing. That doesn't make you a Nazi, but it does make you a voice of Right Blogistan's panicked imagination. A dismissal of facts in favour of what Right Blogistan supposedly knew to be the intentions of scary Muslims got us into our quagmire in Iraq. So I'm not cutting your judgement any slack when it comes to Iran.

Alexandra said...


Could you be precise and tell me which part of Taheri's article is "trumped up" and "false", by quoting the article itself.

In your original post, which I was responding to, you do not give any evidence in support of this allegation, and contrary to your assertion I do not have any telepathic powers to be able to ascertain what this supporting evidence may be.

I am neither standing by, nor interested in the report written by the journalist in the Canadian Post, which ran Taheri's in tandem, and which others linked to. They have since pulled that story but obviously kept Taheri's published.

Much of the confusion in the Blogosphere has resulted in dumping Taheri's article and the article written by the Canadian National Post in one. They are not one, and I happened to read both as I am sure you have.

When Taheri says "it seems that my column was used as the basis for a number of reports that somehow jumped the gun." in his press release, he is of course referring primarily to the Canadian publication.

So the next day, when Murdoch ran Taheri's article in the New York Post, the Blogosphere was already all aghast that they should be running a "debunked story pulled by the National Post". Er, no, the Canadian publication never withdrew from publishing Taheri's article, having kept it in tact (see above), but retracted their own journalist's story, and pulled the same from the net.

To call someone's story "debunked" as many on both sides have done is a very serious allegation, although the word "trumped up" and "false" takes it quite a few decimals further.

Jonathan Korman said...

Alexandra is correct that calling Mr Taheri's article “false” is a few degrees off. I explain why in a follow-up post.