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What was the joke?
America is denounced and demonised at every turn, mostly by ungrateful pedants

August 6, 2003
The Iranian

An American official recently called North Korea's "Dear Leader" a tyrannical dictator and his communist country a hellish nightmare. I thoroughly condone such plain, exhilarating discourse from American, and usually Republican, administrations. These people speak a language I, the "man on the Clapham Omnibus", can understand. This is in marked contrast to the oily insinuations of the Europeans, especially the French, whose double-speak is but a sheen to hide their thirst for business with any old piece of filth on the international market: they are -- someone once said -- political tarts ("faahesheh-ye siaasi").

The Bush administration is ridiculed of course for calling a spade a spade, as the Reagan administration was for calling the Soviet Union an "evil empire". What was the Soviet Union if not an empire and if not thoroughly, thoroughly evil? Lenin and Stalin, just two men, elaborated a system that was nothing less than a mass killing machine, ostensibly for a better future [for those not shot, tortured, starved or traumatised to death]. This evil state made it its secondary business to eliminate, nay uproot, civil society and replace it with a populace: needy, desperate, poor in mind, desirous of trivial rubbish like Coca Cola, pizza and jeans.

And yet a common type of phrase in many dailies, and I dare say many undergraduate essays, is one like "half a century on, the debate continues around the Stalin phenomenon", or "hero to some, a monster to others", or that type of clichéd rot. Excuse me? There is a debate about Lenin and Stalin -- in contrast to the universal consensus, say, on the badness of General Pinochet? Who is debating? The Demented Association?

Ronald Reagan said "evil empire" because as a plain-speaking man with a good deal of common sense, unlike the "an-telectuels" ("An budan-o antar shodan," as a friend once said, though he meant Iranians on that occasion), he was horrified by the prospect of a society that deprived one, you and I, of such basics as the ability to speak the truth, or freedom to travel or read as you please -- never mind the luxuries of life like commerce, justice and good television.

I remember my seminar group at the University of Bristol laughing at the "evil empire" joke -- all of them except myself ("mad Ali"), Ben, the cleverest in the class, now a London barrister, and a girl from Miami called Jennifer who missed classes to go skiing or shopping ("Now that I'm here, I might as well go to Milan," she used to say, the dear). So what was the joke? I have no idea. The Reagan administration and the government of Margaret Thatcher, by their intransigence before communism, helped bring down the Soviet hellhole. Where is the joke?

The way people fulminate against America you would think it the worst social and political concoction ever. Why does nobody show the same indignation at North Korea's regime and its tin-pot Hitler, the nemesis of civilised society? Why does nobody laugh at his laughable demand for bilateral talks with America, which America rightly refuses, as if a psychopath with a finger on the nuclear button is a bilateral matter?

One might concede that people condemn America because, as a democracy, they expect higher or the highest standards from it, and expect nothing from the North Koreans, Taliban and Saddams of this world. But is this ever clear, or vocally expressed? Does anyone ever say, America should be a shining example but we condemn it because it fails to reach standards we expect and know it can attain -- and as for the rest, they're so bad we won't even comment on them?

America is denounced and demonised at every turn, mostly by ungrateful pedants who forget they enjoy the privilege - the immense privilege, good fortune and luxury - of living in free-market liberal democracies. Their verdict on "progressive" regimes -- a motley lot of left-wing and revolutionary states that have been as beneficial to humanity as the plague - appears to be silence laced with indulgence born of dogged ignorance. That must be the last legacy - the parting shot - of socialism: mass idiocy. And such silence is all these mafia (formerly Non-Aligned) states want.

It nicely complements the deathly silence they impose at home, thank you very much. Meanwhile, they parade as respectable members of that costly, lumbering "thing", the United Nations. What is that other than an assembly of "regimes", keen to uphold state sovereignty when they're busy gagging their own peoples, but not when they're begging for more cash from G7? What is the value of a UN human rights panel including states that are the first to violate law, human rights, social rights, morality... you name it? What is state sovereignty worth when it serves Zimbabwe, Libya, North Korea or Syria: scumbag mafia states?

Again, we all know, nobody hates the United States. To condemn the United States is to say, "I have morals, ethics; I'm not just a lump that thinks only of his stomach and the stuff below... I care, my brain works..." Deep-down, we are grateful though and relieved that there is a global gendarme, blowing the whistle on demented megalomaniacs, doing the dirty work, assuring the collective security of democracies. So let it take the oil...

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