Rhetoric as Thinking


Cyrus Ferdowsi
by Cyrus Ferdowsi

Akbar Ganji, "someone who spent six years in Tehran's Evin Prison on a bogus charge of endangering national security," has published a column in the Washington Post (translated from Farsi) to clarify "why Iranian pro- democracy forces oppose the $75 million the U.S. government provides to aid civil society in their country."

But even the very title and the starting point is presumptuous. First, why should Ganji think he can represent such a vast group of people as "Iranian pro-democracy forces"? Second, why is being an Iranian democrat taken to be synonymous with "shuning foreign aid"? What, then, are Akbar Atri, Ali Afshari, and countless other activists? Ganji also claims that in any Middle Eastern country other than Iran people would choose fundamentalists in a free and fair election. Why? This is pseudo-intellectual nonesense! In fact, this statement has already been proven wrong in Iraq. But the problems with Ganji's piece are much deeper than this.

After a string of incongruous expressions of facts and opinions-dressed-as-facts about the situation in Iran and the Middle East and what people want or don't wan't, he reaches the following culminating point:

So here is our request to Congress: To do away with any misunderstanding, we hope lawmakers will approve a bill that bans payment to individuals or groups opposing the Iranian government.

This rhetorical request has a deeply sensational tone. But it is a foolish thing to say, void of any logic. Why should anyone hoping to help a group of people (Iranian pro-democracy forces here) ban transactions with them? How could such outright blocking of aid possibly help? But it gets even worse.

Ganji charges the (collective) West of helping Iran's government to restrict and filter the Web. (This, of course, confounds private companies with governments, but that's a minor offense.) Then, he proceeds to say that all Iranians really need is free media and TV,

The support we need at this point has nothing to do with funding the regime's opposition but with aiding Iranians in the quest for independent media and accurate information.

Mr. Ganji's piece is apparently in response to an earlier op-ed by Michael Rubin. But he seems not to have read it:

The congressional appropriation has grown from $1.4 million in 2004 to $66 million this year. Of this, $36 million disappears into the coffers of Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. The State Department applies an additional $5 million each to visitor exchange programs and to translation of its Web sites into Persian.

VOA Persian and Radio Free Europe (Radio Farda in Persian) are perhaps the closest things accessible in Iran to free media with wide coverage through their radio and TV programs. Mr. Ganji has used VOA's platform several times already to reach his fellow Iranians. Now, he wouldn't want them off, or would he?



Ganji was never important

by changiz khan (not verified) on

Why should anyone give two dimes to what Ganji has to say. The likes of Ganji, Sazegara and many other former lackeys of this regime have zero following in Iran an are only used by Americans to extract any piece of information there may still be left in them. To this day, Ganji or Sazegara have not said a single word against Khomeini or denounced their involvements in the formation of this regime. Is this not enough reason to have them flushed down the toilet hole of history.


Ganji proved to be a loser

by Bolant (not verified) on

Very good article. I definitely agree with all of it. Ganji had a good chance to be an effective leader, based on his years in prison and his manifestos. But he is ahuge failure. He is now isolated, he wonders why. Well the remarks like the one mentioned in this article are the reason.
Such a shame.


If Ganji has to apologize

by democrat (not verified) on

If Ganji has to apologize for ANYTHING, the so called opposition in USA/France/Iraq have much more to apologize for. They consistently lie and collaborate with the USA/Israel to hurt Iranians for their own good. Iranians will do fine without outsiders.... ganji is part of the solution, not the problem



by MRX (not verified) on

The day Gangi apologizes openly to the families of the people he personaly abused and tormented when he was a revoultionery guard, that day we can start litsen to him. till then good luck preaching.


Your argument don't hold water

by Bavafa on

Your article, disguised to be as a fair minded and objective, lost its credibility the moment you defend VOA and Radio Frada.

I don't know a whole lot about Ganji, but the fact that he spent six years in Evin prison for fighting the regime in Iran, gives him a lot more credibility then the so called opposition group that have lived most or all their lives outside of Iran (perhaps in comfort) and advocate "change".

Can any one give me one example that the US provided funds to topple another regime for the same of the people of that country? As the mullahs are tyrant towards their own people, US is a tyrant regime towards the other nations. If Iran was ever going to be a free and just society, it needs to be on its own first and for most.



Please Distribute

by Petition (not verified) on



by mooshee (not verified) on

VOA = close to free media? Dream on. It's a joke. It's a cute channel, but it's a joke and it is propaganda, nothing more.


Washington Post inadvertently signals who the tyrants are

by Miz-abdol-azim khaneh Ghareeb (not verified) on

The very fact that Washington Post even prints his opinions let alone his commentaries shows that Ganji can not be accepted as a political prisoner! When our sick and dying patinents are not allowed a visa, the mothers are denied a visa, how can a convicted "felon" be admitted in this country? Unless both US and Iran have agreed on who to bring in as a "political activist" to entertain the Iranians abroad.

We are just being entertained....you know Googoosh, Ganji, Shirin Ebadi....Shajarian...etc

khosh baasheen

Don't trust Washington Post