Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was a terrorist.
The leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force killed hundreds of American service members and had the blood of many more on his hands. He was a commander in a terrorist organization that stifled dissent at home and abroad.
I don’t say this as if it were news to anyone — it certainly isn’t if you’ve been watching coverage of Soleimani’s death — but rather as a kind of incantation.
I want media grandees to say those words before they go on air every night or file their columns for the day.
Chant them, if they must.
For the next few weeks, they should be a kind of mantra — kind of like “om mani padme hum,” but with time-sensitive knowledge substituted for ancient Sanskrit religious phraseology.
Without this salient (and, I had hoped, universal) information being chanted by our nation’s anchors and splayed out on yoga mats, without them meditating on the genuine evil that Soleimani embodied, what apparently happens is they lapse into rhapsodizing about the head thug of the Quds Force.
They look googly-eyed at the kind of crowds that turned out for his funeral, at the lamentations for him in the Iranian state media, at the martyrdom that the mullahs have already built up around his legacy of destruction and think to themselves that they’re watching the passing of some colossal political figure — not the archetype of the kind of bloodthirsty, ambitious apparatchik that manages oppress others in every tyrannical regime across the span of history, from Caligula to Pinochet.
The latest victim is Chris Matthews of MSNBC, who looked at Soleimani’s funeral and saw the kind of outpouring of grief (an outpouring that was no way coerced out of the Iranian people by their government, of course) one might see for, say, Elvis Presley or Princess Diana.
“When some people die, you don’t know what the impact is going to be. When Princess Diana died, for example, there was a huge emotional outpouring,” Matthews said during a Wednesday segment with Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas.
“Elvis Presley in our culture — it turns out that this general we killed was a beloved hero of the Iranian people to the point where — look at the people, we got pictures up now, these enormous crowds coming out. There’s no American emotion in this case, but there’s a hell of a lot of emotion on the other side.
“Should our leaders know what they’re doing when they kill somebody?” he asked Castro.
There’s nothing special about Castro’s answer, although it does speak to the boilerplate phraseology from the Democratic Party when it comes to Soleimani’s death.
“They very much could have anticipated that Iranians would react in this way, both the Iranian public but also that the government would strike back,” Castro said.
“This speaks to a much larger issue, Chris, which is the president has had a very chaotic and erratic foreign policy, and especially with respect to Iran.”
Neither seemed to understand the issue with comparing Soleimani (a terrorist killed by an American drone strike) to Elvis Presley (a singer killed by overindulgence of every sort) or Princess Diana (a royal killed in a car crash).
Beyond the fact that this logic is offensive on its face, there are several deeper problems with it.
For instance, why has the media suddenly become impressed with turnout? A million people did indeed flood the streets of Tehran for Soleimani’s funeral.
You may perhaps have noticed some differences between that event and Princess Diana’s funeral.
At the latter event, Elton John sung “Candle in the Wind.” At the former, Soleimani’s daughter called President Donald Trump “the symbol of ignorance, the slave of Zionists.”
At Princess Diana’s funeral, the eulogy was given by Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer; it was controversial partially because he said “[i]t is a point to remember that of all the ironies about Diana, perhaps the greatest was this — a girl given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting was, in the end, the most hunted person of the modern age.”
A similar controversy erupted over the speeches at Soleimani’s funeral, although not because of the blatantly anti-Semitic content or the saber-rattling.
Besides that, where is it said that the emotions of a people — assuming those emotions aren’t being manipulated by their government — should override our foreign policy interests?
Whether or not you believe Soleimani was planning imminent attacks on American diplomats and service members, he represented an obvious threat to both our country and the Middle East at large.
We’re not the only ones who are glad to be rid of him, no matter what you might hear to the contrary.
There are obviously some Iranian hyperpartisans who aren’t happy. And?
There shouldn’t be a single person in Washington losing sleep over the fact we may have killed someone they venerated like Elvis.
This demonstrates misplaced priorities on their part, not ours.
Picking on Chris Matthews is usually picking at low-hanging fruit, except in this case he’s hardly alone.
Over on CNN, Anderson Cooper compared Soleimani to Charles de Gaulle, an interesting comparison when you consider one fought Nazis and the other served one of the most rabidly anti-Semitic regimes on the face of the planet.
At The New York Times, meanwhile, here were the tweets they sent out for the obituaries of Qassem Soleimani and Sam Wyche, former coach of the Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Six hours apart. pic.twitter.com/rLgIGgPmtv
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) January 7, 2020
If only Wyche had killed a few hundred American servicemen, maybe he could have earned more respect in death.
It’s perfectly acceptable for anyone to challenge the wisdom behind the Soleimani attacks.
However, comparing a terrorist to Charles de Gaulle, Elvis or Princess Diana to contextualize his death does nothing of the sort.
It merely erodes trust in anyone foolish enough to make such a comparison.
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