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Obama’s Nowrouz Message is Awesome

So, today is Nowrouz, the Persian New Year, the first day of spring. We get to be on vacation for many days. Personally, I don’t care for this holiday season much. I dislike nationalism as much as religion, and I find Muslims celebrating a holiday which was originally Zoroastrian stupid. I dislike the fact that I will have to see relatives and “friends” whom I have otherwise avoided because of this “tradition”, I dislike the fact that people get all lovey-dovey and hopeful, and I dislike the fact that everything gets more expensive, and I dislike the fact that I gain a lot of weight. But, everyone goes on vacations so Tehran gets much less crowded, which is very good.  But this year, I can be happy for two reasons. One, the economic growth of Iran is now 0%, which means after so many years we’re finally out of negative growth. Second, Obama’s message.

Obama is my favorite American president. You may have your criticisms of him, with which I would most likely disagree, but when it comes to Iran he’s the most historic president. I LOVE – adore – his Nowrouz message this year. I love how he acknowledges the real meaning of Rouhani’s presidency, I love how he acknowledges the plights of Iranian people, I love his commitment to diplomacy. I’m very thankful that such a sane and rational man is in White House.


  1. otranreg says

    I find Muslims celebrating a holiday which was originally Zoroastrian stupid

    Well, it’s about the same as Christians celebrating Christmas.

    • says

      An appropriate comparison, since at least one element of Christmas — the date — has ancient Persian roots. December 25th was the birthday of the pre-Islamic Persian god Mithra, whose cult had become popular in the Roman Empire by Constantine’s time. When the Christians were co-opting popular pagan holidays, the birth date was simply re-assigned to Jesus.

      Nowruz is at least authentically Persian. The country has continuity of identity even though its religion has changed. I’ve heard that modern Iranians have been putting more emphasis on a variety of pre-Islamic Persian traditions; it’s a way of asserting identity while defying the ayatollahs.

      • Kaveh Mousavi says

        Yeah, on this issue, sadly, I’m on the side of ayatollahs. I dislike national identity. It focuses on Persian pride and Persian language and militarism and emperors and all the things I find morally abhorrent. I find them intermingled with Persian racism and in some cases it flirts with fascism. Not all people who focus on our pre-Islamic tradition are like that, but their leaders are, I find it a worrying trend.

        EDIT: I’m not talking about Nowrouz, everyone celebrates it. I’m taling about that trend that you’re talking about with going back to our “Persian roots” which excludes all minorities.

      • colnago80 says

        Actually, the date December 25 was chosen because that makes January 1 the 8th day after the birth of Yeshua ben Yusef of Nazareth, and thus the anniversary of the day on which he received his bris.

  2. Anthony Burber says

    Obama is my favorite American president. You may have your criticisms of him, with which I would most likely disagree, but when it comes to Iran he’s the most historic president.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but my big criticism of Obama is the number of people killed without trial during his presidency. While people mostly cite Anwar al-Awlaki and his son here, I also apply this to Osama bin Laden. Comprehensive evidence says that he was a horrible person, but he was already in a prison of his own making and expense, and the CIA was reading his mail. He was not a meaningful threat to anyone. It would have been good to arrest and bring him to trial with scrupulous attention to the law. It would have been smart to leave him alone and continue intercepting his couriers. To kill him was neither good nor smart.

    I am sure that any President from Reagan onwards would make the same choices Obama did, or worse. If McCain or Romney had been elected President, their foreign policy would have been horrifying. But, we can’t grade our leaders on a curve. Obama is currently scoring a passing grade, but it’s a 60% at best.

    • Kaveh Mousavi says

      Yes, that was what I had in mind. I think putting those people in trial would only strengthen their movement, because their importance is spiritual and ideological. When Bin Laden was killed, Al-Qaeda became significantly weaker. I know this is a very offensive comparison, but think of how Mandela’s 27 years of imprisonment only strengthened his cause, and to a crazy Islamist the same formula goes for these individuals. I would understand the concern people have with drones because of the civilian cost, but assassinating these horrifying people is a must.

      • atheist says

        That may perhaps be true. As a US citizen a campaign of assassination by the US government worries me. Among other reasons, because decisions about how to treat foreigners usually influence decisions about how to treat citizens. The USA may find it easier to assassinate Americans.

        • Kaveh Mousavi says

          I agree with the principle of what you’re saying. Governments follow their interests by nature and do not operate on moral and legal grounds. The same Islamist groups did receive aid from USA at some point. But, if not them, then who has the power to do so? It’d be awesome if there were some international army or police more powerful than all nations which enacted the human rights law with whatever means necessary – but there is no such body.

    • Anthony Burber says

      @Kaveh Mousavi #3.1:
      Who do you trust to identify the “horrifying people” who deserve assassination without trial? I don’t think you trust your government to do it, so why trust anyone else’s? Keep in mind that governments can easily manipulate the media and assassinate someone’s character before they assassinate them for real.

      If bin Laden’s death weakened al-Qaeda, I submit that it was not simply because he was dead, but because he was revealed to be hiding in a fortified hovel in Pakistan. If you trust the media, he had a pile of pornographic videos for company. That can’t be good for recruitment. If the reports said he’d been discovered and killed in a well-stocked cave in Afghanistan, surrounded by trusted recruits and screaming defiance from a pile of improvised explosives, that might have gained al-Qaeda some credibility instead.

      I’m dubious about decisions based on what will “weaken” or “strengthen” someone’s movement. Ideally, we should just do what’s right, but if we ever make decisions for the sake of public relations, they should demonstrate the “civilized values” we claim to hold. One of the big ones is presumption of innocence. We also complain a lot when other countries execute people, even when they’re guilty, so it would be nice to show that we don’t believe in executing anyone, starting at the top.

      • Kaveh Mousavi says

        No, Bin Laden’s death weakened Al-Qaeda because he was a unifying figure, because he continued to manage and set the overall policies. None of his followers would care that he had pornography. In radical Islam ideology, these women are non-Muslim, therefore non-human, and looking at their naked bodies is no sin because they have no rights. They can be taken into sexual slavery as spoils of war. The fact that the western media act surprised at finding pornography in Bin Laden’s house thinking it implies hypocrisy shows that the western audience are still unfamiliar with Al-Qaeda mindset (which is not strange, most Muslims are unfamiliar as well).

        I find your approach simplistic and absolutist and divorced from the real world. Like all absolutist positions, you forget the purpose of an ethical law and focus only on its form, turning it into a ritual and a parody of itself. The purpose of “due process” is to make sure no innocent person is punished – or at least as few innocent people are punished as possible. No one doubts that Bin Laden and Gaddaffi and Bashar Assad are guilty. Their crimes are so horrifying and so magnificent and on such large scales that it is laughable to even think that there’s a real chance that they are innocent. Putting them on trial is only a show, and a mockery of the main reason that trials were invented.

        I also never complain when people are executed because I believe in death penalty, but that’s not the debate we’re having – I’m simply telling you that this assumption is not correct about me. Problem is, Islamic Republic executes atheists and gays and adulterers (that is, innocent people) or people whose crimes doesn’t warrant such a punishment (drug traffickers). I don’t plan to assume anything about you, but there are some people who say killing Bin Laden is the ethical equivalent of killing an atheist for his/her atheism.

        These people are special cases. They are responsible for thousands of deaths (or they are the brains of an organization that is), they thrive on an ideology based on murder and terrorism. They’re not equal to a murder suspect. They are anomalies of human civilization, and they need to be eradicated.

        However, I concede one point to you – you said “who do you trust with that decision”. That’s why I believe we need transparency. Obama should make his kill list public, just as FBI’s most wanted list is public. It can then be scrutinized by congress and the press and the public.

      • Kaveh Mousavi says

        But let me stress that I agree that drones are a bad method because of their civilian casualties.I think having trained assassins is better. There can be an international task force so that the burden is not only on USA.

        • Silentbob says

          There can be an international task force [of trained assassins] so that the burden is not only on USA.

          Sounds like a great premise for a James Bond style action/adventure movie.
          And probably the worst idea I have ever heard for an ethical or workable system of international justice in the real world.

      • Anthony Burber says

        @Kaveh Mousavi:
        Osama bin Laden may have remained a symbolic leader for al-Qaeda, but I don’t see how he could manage and set policies while communicating with messages hand-delivered by courier. Company and political leaders with telephones and e-mail have enough trouble convincing everyone to move in the same direction. He may have commanded loyalty that most company bosses can only dream of, but that only goes so far when his communication channels were so narrow and slow.

        If he was still managing al-Qaeda in any meaningful way, why didn’t intercepting his courier or searching his compound expose any operatives, equipment or plots elsewhere in the world?

        We often see bin Laden portrayed as a “mastermind”, able to effortlessly recruit and direct plots across many countries in fine detail. It’s tempting to believe that we only have to kill or capture a few dozen masterminds to destroy all terrorism, and can then relax. So, while I’ll readily accept that he was a horrible person and responsible for organizing the deaths of thousands, I’m nervous about pinning every al-Qaeda activity on him… because the actual organizers may still be out there, hiding. It’s true that publicly putting him on trial wouldn’t help us here; if he spoke at all, it would be to claim personal responsibility for everything from the Boston Marathon Bombing to the London Beer Flood of 1814.

        I don’t plan to assume anything about you, but there are some people who say killing Bin Laden is the ethical equivalent of killing an atheist for his/her atheism.

        No, I don’t go to that extreme. However, the only time I can endorse killing people is in self-defense or the defense of others from immediate violence. Neither do I support “punishment” for any crime, including mass murder. There are dangerous people who would do harm to society if left free; these people should be jailed to protect society, but this is about prevention, not punishment. There is nothing to be gained from causing further harm to the person being jailed. Norway’s treatment of Anders Behring Breivik seems to follow this logic.

        You are correct that I don’t address the issue of “symbolic leaders”, whether they’re Osama bin Laden or Nelson Mandela. Without a doubt, these people have power. Maybe letting Anders Breivik write letters is a mistake, and he will inspire acts that destroy Europe as we know it. Maybe it will help people see how messed up his worldview is. Time will tell.

        • Kaveh Mousavi says

          I agree that we can’t end terrorism by killing few individuals, and that ending terrorism or making it less of a global problem requires much community work, and although I disagree with you prevention vs. punishment argument (to me it’s both), I appreciate it. We’ll agree to disagree.

          I want to ask you something else though. Why do I have to approve your comments every time? All the other frequent commenters are automatically published.

        • Anthony Burber says

          @Kaveh Mousavi:
          Yes, I’m happy to set this conversation aside at this point; I’ve wandered far from your original post about Obama’s Nowrouz Message.

          You probably have to approve my comments because I often include multiple links in them. You could go into your WordPress Settings > Discussion > Comment Moderation, and increase the number in “Hold a comment in the queue if it contains __ or more links”. However, I do not recommend this, as it increases your risk of comment spam.

          I often include the “cite” attribute in blockquotes, so even comments without blue text may contain URLs inside them.

          If I’m correct, this comment, which contains zero links, won’t be held for moderation.

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