Saturday, April 07, 2007

Happy Passover, Easter, and the Prophet of Islam's Birthday

Ahmadinejad covered them all when he signed the papers announcing the release of the 15 British sailors.

It was their clothes that were so interesting to me and Keivan: the woman, Faye Turney wearing a giant striped shirt with baggy pants and an over-sized blue shirt; the men in their standard-issue Hacoupian suits. It's hard to imagine the process of dressing the British sailors. They had quite the array of outfits: their uniforms, the gym suits we saw them in while they sat in a room close to the location of Ahmadinejad's press conference, then the suits and Faye's really unfashionable outfit (clearly, shopping for her clothes was not done by Iran's chic set).

Keivan has been speculating on how they were fitted for their outfits and who bought them. And the strangest part yet (at least for me) is the parting gifts. Who provides released foreign captives with parting gifts? They got pistachios too: not too shabby a parting gift at all!

Imagine, 5 years in Guantanamo and then you get a little party bag filled with Starbucks coupons and Gap t-shirts. "A mememto of your stay with us."

And of course the British sailors were under psychological pressure... that comes as no surprise. What I find the most unnerving is that our (American) behavior at Abu Gharib and Guantanamo has completely robbed me of the right to be indignant. If Americans don't agree with me, tell me why I am wrong.

Click on the New York Times multimedia link for a good slideshow of images

As usual, The Onion has the best take: Iran Releases British Sailors


Anonymous said...

"(American) behavior at Abu Gharib and Guantanamo has completely robbed me of the right to be indignant"

You should be indignant at any evil. To ignore unconscionable behavior because another engages in it encourages the behavior by acquiescence. Evil should be resisted unconditionally. Iran should be condemned as loudly as the mistreatment of detainees at Abu Gharib and Guantanamo.

ET said...

In principle, anonymous, you may be right. But in practice if I cannot clean up my little corner of the world then I have no right to become indignant when you do not clean up yours.

If all I am going to do is be appalled by evil rather than work to get rid of it in my own little corner of the world, then what's the point?

You may be a citizen of the world, but I am an American, which means I should be working on getting my own house in order.

If you were here, you would realize how hollow Americans sound when they complain about abuses in Iran or anywhere else. Guantanamo and Abu Gharib are truly damaging.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least in my own view, abuses in either case should be condemened. I am not indignant over Iranian abuses because I would not expect better of them whereas I am shocked at our government's treatment of detainees precisely because I DO expect better of ourselves.

chicago said...

American will be witnessing its cities atomizing in a nuclear fire and there will be some idiot somewhere saying "Well, it's just like Abu Gharib... we are no better"

Where does this prefect world exist where no one crosses the lines and makes criminal mistakes in wartime? Are the people who still moan about this shocked that it had happened? That their expectation was perfect behavior from every soldier for the length of the entire mission over there? I'm not sure any nation can live up to that impossible standard.

Here is what we know... what happened there was not acceptable. It was investigated and the people involved Court Martialed, found guilty , and sentenced.

Let it go already.

Thank God thsoe people were either non-existant , silent, or totally ignored in the 1800s/early 1900s, I'm not sure how this country would have won Civil, WWI or WWII were it otherwise.

These very same people , I guarentee you, have not decried Iranian violation of numerous conventions in the latest episode with the UK marines.

These people are a moral 5th column and should be shunned into silence.

christopher said...

what are the main contributions to the health and happiness of the world that iran has made outside of its borders in the last 50 years?

i'm serious, i swear. i'm not being snarky. i'm curious what the answers would be. i swear.

is there a history of humanitarian relief somewhere? does iran have a foreign aid budget? any dealings with any of the hardships on the african continent? do a lot of volunteers go abroad?

while bad is bad, it can be mitigated somewhat on the big scales of history if there are a lot of positives to counterbalance any negatives.

Virginian said...

I'll address Abu Ghraib at the end of this post; that was in the past and is not happening any longer. Although it was much more recent, arguing about Abu Ghraib would be equivalent to arguing about the Iran hostage crisis in the '70s. The second thing, Gitmo is hardly a horrible place to be. The detainees there are provided with their own Korans, their own prayer mats, and three large vegetarian meals a day. They also live in state-of-the-art facilities - not those chicken-wire things the MSM likes to show. Well-behaved detainees are even rewarded and allowed to live in group quarters. Granted, I do not believe the US should be holding them indefinitely without charges; that goes against every ethical and moral fiber in my body. All comparisons end between the British captives and the detainees at Gitmo beyond the fact that both were captured without proper cause. Being blindfolded with guns cocking in the background (which one British sailor described) is hardly the same as those conditions I described at Gitmo.

Abu Ghraib was definitely evil, but once it came out, the US took it very seriously. Don't simply listen to our talking heads, i.e. Bill O'Reilly, when considering what happened. Letting loose attack dogs on naked men who view nudity as obscene in their religion is unconscionable. However, as Mike Ditka said, "those who live in the past are cowards." Yes, some US soldiers were very wrong in their actions. Let's move on.

Virginian said...

And, I might suggest that Christopher is correct...

Anonymous said...

As a Persian...

“the woman, Faye Turney wearing a giant striped shirt with baggy pants and an over-sized blue shirt”

I don’t know if you saw her in her own military suit, but she is rather a big woman…, who is used to this sort of baggy things to hide her size.

“5 years in Guantanamo and then you get a little party bag filled with Starbucks coupons and Gap t-shirts. "A mememto of your stay with us."”

American behaviour in Abu Gharaib and Guantanomay are not comparable to a tiny little trip that the sailors had in Iran. If Abu Gharaib and Guantanomay are one sand beach, what happened with those sailors is even not one sand. That’s how they can be compared.

As I said in a previous post, when it comes to acts of humiliation, the west is playing in a completely different league.

“what are the main contributions to the health and happiness of the world that Iran has made outside of its borders in the last 50 years?”

This question is irrelevant. This is a discussion for what happens at the surface, but when you are enough sincere in your questioning and investigation, and go deep inside the problem, those who have an impact on the happiness of the world are not those who you believe.
You want to know what impact American administrations had on the world affaires, read your fellow countryman ; Noam Chomsky.

The strangulation of African economy is done by whom? By The world Bank and … you know who.
We are not living in a system where every country is a closed system, and the global warming is reminding us of this if we have forgotten it. When you supposedly create some order somewhere (for example in your country), you have to suck the energy from the political, social, ecological... environment and it will clearly induce some disorder somewhere else. This is known in physics as the second law of thermodynamics which applies not only in physical systems but to any system. And what you think contributes to comfort briefly some lives, will in the end have the reverse effect. And this kind of thought may make you feel good about yourself, but it's you alone. So we have to put an end to this hypocritical movement of thought which underlies our personal (psychological) interest.

“arguing about Abu Ghraib would be equivalent to arguing about the Iran hostage crisis in the '70s. The second thing, Gitmo is hardly a horrible place to be.”

Again, these are all throwing those sands of the beach to the eyes of those who point the truth, in order for them and the others to disrupt seeing the truth.
The hostage crisis had a reason, and it was the military coup that Americans and Brits set up to overthrow a democratic government in Iran in 1953.
And if the Guantanomay is such a good place, why didn’t they built it in one of the 50 states of the US?

Anonymous said...

I, too, thought the gift bags were hilarious!

(I wonder what's on the CDs?)

The accounts of what really happened and what could've happened and what still could happen. And, also what we American's have done. And, all that.

Tthis song has entered my head and won't leave me:

(I'm only sorry the sound is so poor)

I promise to eat a choco bunny in honor of your lovely blog.

-- Tilli (Mojave Desert)

GM said...


Iran has been for the past quarter century, and is to this day, the largest host to refugees in the world:

Iran has also provided over $500M reconstruction aid to Afghanistan, over $1B to Iraq, and development aid and credit to various African countries.

shlemazl said...

One has to be blind not to see the difference between Abu Gharib prisoners and the 15 sailors. You are comparing terrorists with innocent people captured by Iranian pirates.

christopher said...

gm, thanks for these references.

this is what i am curious about. after i posted i remembered that i had heard about the large number of refugees in iran. this is especially from afghanistan, right? where are they housed? and how are all of these refugees received by typical iranian people?

Anonymous said...


they are received as well as blacks in the US.

Anonymous said...


If you choose the right words (innocent people captured by Iranian pirates) and hammer it a thousand times through the media, you may be up to something.
You may in fact be able to follow on this path your master GWB and make from false information some truth.
Is it not how the "freedom of expression" has been highjacked?

GM said...


Yes, most refugees in Iran are Afghans. The peak refugee population of 3.5 million was achieved in the aftermath of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, when 600,000 Iraqi citizens (mostly Kurds) came to Iran, joining other Iraqis who had been in iran since 1980.

Unlike in Pakistan, Afghans in Iran were not confined to camps. Their children, with variable success, have been able to attend school most of the time and they have received, again at times, a small financial or food assistance from the Iranian government. Like all persons living in Iran, they have had access to governemnt subsidised food, fuel, and other necessities. Afghans with expired legal status have had to live the lives illegal immigrants live in many places.

The Iranian public tend to view Afghans as a criminal class. They are limtied to menial jobs, often in construction, domestic work, etc. Not unlike Mexicans in the US, but less trusted. They have one advantage over Mexicans, in that almost all speak Persian (the Dari dialect) as their mother tongue. There are very few Pashtu speakers in Iran.

There is an Iranian movie "Baran", which may be rented in many US video stores and which attempts to address some aspects of the lives of Afghans in Iran. There are also other Iranian movies with Afghan themes, like "Kandahar" (one of G W Bushs's favourites!) and "The Cyclist".

I would have to disagree with the poster who stated that Afghans in Iran are "recevied as well as blacks" are in the US. To illustrate what I mean, an upper class, educated non-refugee Afghan (many exist) would be considered as an absolute equal by Iranians. The same cannot be said of blacks in the US.

ET said...

Chicago, I think you have been up late reading Revelations too many nights now.

I never said: "Well, it's just like Abu Gharib... we are no better" What I want to say is that the damage that have been done to America by AG and Guant is done. It needs to be vigorously undone. Our equivocation on torture is a moral disaster for us. I suggest that you read Ignatieff's piece here:

And I agree with anonymous again, I DO expect better from us. That's my job.

As I have written before, I believe in an all-out defense of "hypocrisy" and the grey areas that make up democratic politics. I am a big believer in Democracy and free speech and compromise.

Virginian, I also believe in due process. We should not forget about it.

Mr. Smarterthanyou said...

There is no way, on god's green earth, that 15 US servicemen would have behaved with such craven cowardice. In the end, their spineless officers made excuses for them, and they went away clutching gift bags like teenage girls clutching "American Idol" consolation gifts. If those cowardly, disgraceful limeys don't kill themselves out of shame, they have none.

I think the biggest balls in Britain are 6 feet under, between the deceased Maggie Thatcher's legs. Only 7% of their population thought they should have geared up for war when the hostages were bing held.

And their Admiral said those sissies behaved with "dignity and courage". The woman rolled in 24 hours, several men not long after. Maybe the limeys need to read Admiral Denton's book.

The French need to move over, the British are joining them in the cowards club.

Mr. Smarterthanyou said...

Regarding Abu Gharib, that was the direct result of putting women in inappropriate positions (guards at a male prison), the effect of that on the culture, and the over-eagerness to get women into such positions that they overlook standards. You just cannot have women, who are usually held less accountable than men, in positions where they are acting "tough" and the men feel the need to respond by not being the "wussies" in the situation. Every picture of abuse was taken by a woman or had a woman in it.

As far as the "shame" of having women prison guards taking them to the showers etc., men in the US prison population have the same legitimate complaint.

Calling it torture though, that is just typical liberal hysteria (and political opportunism) and islamic political oportunism. No one knows or does torture like a muslim prison guard, and only a limosine liberal could actually believe that it was torture. Compare what the terrorists do, or what muslim governments do to people to what happened. There was a problem there, nodoubt, but some people need a reality check.

American in the Desert said...

As an American who has lived overseas half of my life in the Middle East, I can assure you being indignant at all evil is the correct thing to do.

Sadly, I also could not muster up much sympathy for these people based on what I ''know'' is going on, facts that will never surface in CNN or Faux News.

Knowing the torture that goes on in Guantanamo, without charges, on Cuban land with an 'expired' lease by the Americans should cause world outrage. Does it?

Personally I am tired of the people of this end of the world being portrayed as uncivlized brutes, while ignoring the human rights violations of it's own. Torture is torture.

Abu Gharaib should also have caused world outrage. A woman involved made it even more sickening in my motherly nurturing eyes. Did the world show outrage?

Iraq has been destroyed. Where is the outrage?

Complaining the Hugo Boss shirt he was given to depart Iran was fake? The gifts were cheap? Obviously the costs of the departing gifties overode the torture if one can even discuss this silly point:

Good article and for those of us with a conscious, we shall overcome. Oh, and the Onion was great as usual. :)

American in the Desert said...

Let me leave you with this wonderful video done by Lucas Gray on Iran.


Enjoy, and let's pray Iran continues to live in peace.

christopher said...

please inform us mr-smarter-than-me, when did margaret thatcher die?

Mr. Smarterthanyou said...

Holy cow, she still is alive!!! So Britain has two testicles among them!!!!

American in the desert, wow, you need to get out of the sun.
Torture is torture. BUT if you are stupid, and think that being naked in front of a woman or being buried in the sand while rocks are thrown at your head is the same thing, "torture is torture", well, you have passed stupidity into mental illness. You must go through life with apple sauce on your chin and an urge to lick windows.

The fact is that if you want to see humans acting with animal-like barbarity to each other, in a systematic way, you need look no further than in any nation with over 50% muslims. That says alot about who is what. If westerners are such pansies that the thought of being walked on a leash terrifies them on par with being hung from a crane in a public square (for the crime of being raped), then you are past logic.

Regarding Cuba,
Why not complain about the Cuban human rights abuses, rather than get hysterical over Club Gitmo? And you put quotes around "expired" because the lease has not expired. Are you an advocate of us returning that land to the Cubans? Before or after they return property stolen from us (factories, refineries etc)?

Mr. Smarterthanyou said...

You pray that Iran continues to live in peace? Stonings,public lashings hangings (slow hanging, not neck braking), children used as mine detectors, helping terrorists around the world, imprisoning dissenters, this is peace?

You really are mentally ill. For you Iranians out there, idiot leftists like this one are your worst enemy and mine. They are the weakening of the west, they are decadence.

Anonymous said...

It really sucks that mrsmarterthanyou has managed to find this blog. Instead of adding to the usually intelligent discourse from both sides, he is determined to bring it down to his pretty ignorant level. Hopefully everyone will just ignore him and he'll skulk off to whatever rock he climbed out from under. Keep your fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

Also, the thing is, we can't let Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo go, b/c the rest of the world will never let it go. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are not what the rest of the world expected of us. You can talk about how the bad apples from AG are in prison and all of that, but it still won't erase that it was done by Americans and looks very hypocritical to the rest of the world. This is like Ted Haggard speaking out against gay rights and turning out to be gay himself. All credibility is lost and in a situation like Iraq, where we really need the rest of the world's support, we don't have it due in part to totally unnecessary crap like AG and Guantanamo. I guess that unlike some of you, Esther and I have very high standards for how Americans should behave. The whole "these things happen during war" excuse is pretty lame.

BTW, as far as I could tell except for a little scare, the 15 British sailors, escaped pretty much unscathed (I fear we won't be able to say as much for the prisoners in Guantanamo, not all of whom are guilty). Not that this is an excuse for the Iranian government's behavior - which I didn't agree with - but let's have some real perspective here instead of the usual partisan, rhetorical BS which is kind of boring actually.

Mr. Smarterthanyou said...

FOr them to escape unscathed is not the point. They shamed their country, they provided propoganda that hurt their national interest.

If the #1 goal of a military effort is to not lose people no matter what, then there is no point in a military. You may as well be the UN or the French.

Yes, we in the US expect more from ourselves than from others. BUT, when we fall short it still must be kept in scale. If you excuse torture from muslisms but not simple abuse from americans, is your double standard just because you think muslims are scum anyway, who can expect them to act better? This is the bigotry of low expectations. But most of you leftists carp on the US out of simple envy, so I don't know why I bothered.

Mr. Smarterthanyou said...

If you compare the British sailors to those muslims CAUGHT on the battlefields, then you are pathetic.

CA Reader said...

"There is no way, on god's green earth, that 15 US servicemen would have behaved with such craven cowardice. In the end, their spineless officers made excuses for them..." I would bet that MrSmarterThanYou has never been in a war.

For everyone -- I highly recommend Chris Hedges book "War Is a Force that Gives Ws Meaning" (I've been meaning to reread this myself...)

You know, I was about to post this and decided to re-read some of smarterthanyou's comments.... you really are a cliche, aren't you? Hating the UN, France and UK...calling liberal Americans. Come on! Come up with something original! Sheesh!

-CA Reader

CA reader said...

Apologies...I haven't had my afternoon coffee!

Chris Hedges book is "War Is a Force That Gives US Meaning" and is a very good read.

Oh, and I think I was trying to say to smartypants "calling American's crazies or wimps" whatever... very cliche.

-CA reader about to go get some coffee....

shopgirlove said...

If anyone is still following this thread, I'd like to weigh in. I have found the posts and comments here informative and am grateful to both of for your perspective. I am in America, trying to make sense of the mess we all find ourselves in lately. The humor and analysis (smarterthanyou, notwithsading)has given me hope in a dark time, that human beings are more likely to find common ground than seek factions and fractures. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. I find it reassuring.

shopgirlove said...

Er, that should have been both of you.

American in the Desert said...

et made some very valid points. Rather than revert to the chastising of abuses or crimes in other's countries, we need to focus on our own little corner.

Collective conscious is the key thought. If my neighborhood or city is ridden with drugs or murders, why would I focus on a country a million miles away?

I, in my value as a contributing member to the planet am responsible for what happens in my little circle, beginnning in my home with my own children. Then, and only then, would I venture to others.

In the middle east this would be called ''tribal mentality'' yet applies quite well in modern times. I love and care for my children, in turn they love and care for me, on down through the generations. We then as a collective unit, care for others in our family, our neighbors, our city, our state, our country.

We are now to a point where we must care for an entire planet lest we disinegrate with our own weapons of mass destruction. Our children's lives depend on this. Let's pray our leaders make some wise decisions this coming year!

scott said...

From two anonymous posters:

they are received as well as blacks in the US

I would have to disagree with the poster who stated that Afghans in Iran are "recevied as well as blacks" are in the US. To illustrate what I mean, an upper class, educated non-refugee Afghan (many exist) would be considered as an absolute equal by Iranians. The same cannot be said of blacks in the US.

Have you read a US paper lately? A black man is running for president, and has a very good chance of winning. Wow I guess ignorance is bliss, you can just spout off baseless accusations like that and feel proud of yourself? It is no longer the 1960’s.

Mr. Smarterthanyou said...

Ca reader, is original better than truth? The UN is counter-productive to it's stated goals, the French are worse than useless, it is when they act like friends that they stab you in the back the hardest.It turns out that Iran has been getting nuke know-how from the French this whole time.

CA Reader said...

Examples? Examples? Why, exactly, are the French worse than useless? There's this incredible thing about politics and international affairs - at the end of the day, states are going to pursue a policy that benefits them or that suits their ideological viewpoint (this can be problematic for others, of course). I guess I just don't understand why the UN-bashing French haters get so worked up! So what the French gave nuclear technology to the Iranians. We sold weapons and technology to Iraq which, as I’m sure you know, was used against many *many* Iranians. I mean, really, who haven't we given weapons & technology to? It's incredibly bold and ridiculous for America to point fingers at our European allies or anyone else, for that matter. Don't you understand that we are seen **with good reason** as imperialist, war-supporting, hypocritical thugs? And please, I'm not some way-left radical, so spare me your venomous vitriol.
-CA Reader

Anonymous said...

Sigh...CA Reader, why are you engaging in a completely useless dialog with smarterthanyou? Do you really think that you're going to be able to change his mind? This is obviously a person who made his mind up long ago and is sticking to what he believes in regardless of facts. Until he comes up with something interesting or new - meaning we haven't heard the same thing over and over again from others like him - please ignore him. He's drunk the Kool-Aid and there's no going back.

CA Reader said...

Anonymous -

I know and more or less agree with you. Smartypants and his types aren't going to be changed by my typo-filled comments on one blog. I often comment also thinking of others who may be reading -- specifically others who might not travel to the US and meet the friendly, relatively well-informed and more compassionate Americans. Having recently lived abroad, albeit for a comparatively short period of time (well, short compared to ET), I am well aware of the fact that many people think that *most* Americans are like Smartypants - small-minded, unaware of "the rest of the world" and very unaware of the implications of US foreign policy. You and I know that many Americans do not have their proverbial heads in the sand. I do believe that the often random, small encounters we have with people (yes, even in a blog) are what open our eyes to the ways others live in the world and make us more compassionate. So, if any of my comments or the responses of others who speak up to counter Smartypants are able to provide a "more rounded picture" of what Americans are like, then that is a good thing.

But, that said...I agree, perhaps we should avoid debating Smartypants because that will keep him coming back here.

And with that...I have to run and catch my bus. (You see people?!? Not all SoCal residents are gas-guzzleing maniacs! ;-) )

-CA Reader (San Diego, to be exact)

Mr. Smarterthanyou said...

The rest of the world would have gladly let abu gharib go, but the socialists in the US media won't let it go, they want to keep world opinion against us, in the hope that it weakens us. Everyone in the middle east knows the difference between abu gharib and real torture, it is only idiot left-wing americans who pretend they don't.

Here is a story about Iran, told to me by a Iranian Christian in the US. His younger brother, as a teenager, got into a anti-mullah protest. He was among those arrested. He was locked in solitary, and beaten blind. When he was 21, the took him out and hung him.

Now tell us some more about how Iran is at peace, and how we should leave it alone?

Mr. Smarterthanyou said...

Only the wilfully ignorant could think the French are more than useless. You would have to ignore their cowardice in WWII, thier utter lack of gratitude and the manner of their withdrawl from NATO and subsequent game of playing us against the USSR for profit and prestige, their insistance on making French the world language, their arrogance in general, their backstabbing wrt Iraq, Iran, and a whole bunch of other situations.

The French are such a nation of cowards that only a liberal could respect them, because cowardice and a profound sense of inadequacy define them both.

Anonymous said...

Shut it Mr Smarterthan! You talk about French cowardice in WW2, but don't you know we English think you Americans were cowards for leaving our country TO ROT, to be BOMBED and PUSHED TO THE BRINK in WW2 before you came into the war, which you didn't do out of concern for the Jews, but because your stupid harbour was bombed. And now Americans love painting it like they were the big heroes! What a joke! Revisionism at its very worst. Taken a leaf out of Japan's history book, havent you?

btw that comment is not directed at Americans in general, only those who choose to try and portray that they "rescued" Europe.

Mr. Smarterthanyou said...

Anon, If you Idiotic British hadn't been in and out off pissing contests with the rest of europe for the past 1,000 years, maybe we would have acted sooner. Maybe if you and the French hadn't completely screwed up the post-war situation with Germany, we wouldn't have been so annoyed that WWII started!!

Very few Brits would agree that it was US cowardice, because you know that our founders were sick of incessent European squabbling!!!