With Iran back in the spotlight, the Daily Beast reminds us that we–and Bernie Sanders–have been here before:
On April 1, 1979, the theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran was proclaimed. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who had returned to Iran from exile to assume command of the revolt, became Supreme Leader in December of that year. His rise was accelerated by the seizure on Nov. 4 of 52 American diplomats and citizens, and citizens of other countries, at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The hostage crisis became the means by which the Ayatollah crushed political opponents in Iran. Dealing with the hostage taking became the overwhelming political crisis for President Jimmy Carter. It lasted 444 days.
Virtually all Americans—Democrats, Republicans and independents—united in support of the hostages and the international call for their freedom. One prominent political figure on the 2020 stage, then almost completely unknown, stood apart by joining a Marxist-Leninist party that not only pledged support for the Iranian theocracy, but also justified the hostage taking by insisting the hostages were all likely CIA agents. Who was that person? It was Bernie Sanders.
Sanders was a member of the Trotskyite Socialist Workers’ Party. Not just any member, either; he was the SWP’s presidential elector for Vermont, and he appeared with, and campaigned for, the SWP’s presidential candidate.
When its presidential candidate, Andrew Pulley, came to speak at the University of Vermont in October 1980, Sanders chaired the meeting.
In his standard stump speech, Pulley condemned “Carter’s war drive against the Iranian people,” and said that the U.S. “was on the brink of war with Iran,” which would be fought “to protect the oil and banking interests of the Rockefellers and other billionaires.” Americans, he predicted, would soon “pay on the battlefields with our very own lives.” Their criticism of the Ayatollah was intended “to get us ready for war.” And, Pulley charged, the media who criticized those of us who were against “American imperialism” were “declared insane.” As for the hostages, Pulley said “we can be sure that many of them are simply spies… or people assigned to protect the spies.”
Pulley’s words were a direct echo of what the Islamic Society of University Teachers and Students had declared on Nov. 4, 1979 : “We defend the capture of this imperialist embassy, which is a center for espionage.”
Not much has changed since 1980. Sanders is still a blame-America-first crank who had little or nothing to say about the Iranian-led attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. But he exploded in fury over the killing of arch-terrorist Qassem Soleimani and pledged to “stop a war with Iran,” just as in 1980 his Socialist Workers’ Party had no problem with the mullahs holding 52 Americans hostage for over a year, but hysterically warned that the Carter administration was leading us into war with Iran. Which would have been all our fault.
Sanders was a nasty piece of work then, and he is equally nasty now.