Scott wrote this morning about claims that Iran’s incoming president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was one of the terrorists who took Americans hostage at the American embassy in Tehran in 1979. The administration has now taken note of those allegations and is investigating. President Bush expressed concern about Ahmadinejad’s apparent history as a hostage-taker.
It is not so interesting to me, or especially surprising, that Ahmadinejad may have played a role in the events of 1970-1980. After all, it is a safe bet that a number of the Mad Mullahs who hold real power in Iran cut their teeth on the hostage crisis. What is more interesting, I think, is the Iranians’ reaction to the charges against Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad himself has denied involvement in the episode, and claims that he argued against it becaue he “was more concerned with putting down leftists and communists at universities than striking at Americans.” The new president’s denial was supported by some of his current associates. Those who question America’s power and stature in the world should ask themselves why, even in theocratic Iran, extremists do not want to associate themselves publicly with one of America’s worst defeats of the 20th century.
One more comment: Consider this sentence, authored by the Associated Press:
Ahmadinejad has been the ultraconservative mayor of Tehran and, according to his associates, was a member of the radical student group that planned the embassy takeover in 1979.
Historically, if one said that a man had been a “radical” in his youth, but is now an “ultraconservative,” the implication would be that he had changed his views. (Dostoevski comes to mind as an example of this phenomenon; some would say that Deacon and I qualify too.) But here, the AP isn’t suggesting that Ahmadinejad has changed his stripes. Nor has he. His opinions today are the same as they were in 1979. In the AP’s lexicon, “radical” and “ultraconservative” now mean the same thing–a level of incoherence that may be unprecedented in political discourse.
Of course, in the parallel universe of the mainstream media, “liberal” and “moderate” now mean the same thing, too.