‘One Man’s Terrorist…’ Moral Convolution Grips The Organized Iranian-American Community

“One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.” It’s a cliched expression of the moral relativism that too often shapes elite attitudes in the West concerning what constitutes legitimate political action.

According to this view, the acts of radical Islamists, ultranationalists, and other violent groups and states are morally abhorrent only when judged from our perspective as citizens of powerful liberal democracies and beneficiaries of “entrenched interests.” The designation “terrorist,” under this line of thinking, is a purely political one.

In reality, of course, such sentiments are the privileged province of those who have not been victimized by political terror, whether meted out by nonstate actors like Al-Qaeda or totalitarian regimes like Iran’s. The rest of us should recognize terror when we see it.

Left-leaning members of the organized Iranian-American community were right, then, to cry foul in response to renewed congressional efforts to remove the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MKO, or MEK), the Iranian opposition sect based in northern Iraq, from the U.S. State Department’s list of designated foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs).

On August 2, dozens of Iranian-American luminaries and their allies took to the pages of the “Financial Times” with a joint statement denouncing the proposed move. “The [MKO], an organization … that enjoyed the support of Saddam H…

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