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Live From New York...It's the Same Old Propaganda!

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In order to strike a blow to US influence in Iran, which had been profoundly powerful during the Shah's reign, the American Embassy in Tehran was occupied by Iranian revolutionaries. The American government has imposed harsh economic and financial sanctions on Iran ever since. 

The United States has also covertly supported many anti-Iranian organizations since 1979. Most notable is its cooperation with and protection over the years of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iranian opposition network that, in 1981, assassinated about 70 high ranking Iranian officials including cabinet members, elected parliamentarians, and the new Chief Justice when it bombed state headquarters.

For eight years, between 1980 and 1988, the United States supported Saddam Hussein's expansionist war against Iran that cost over one million lives. During the war, Iraq used US-supplied chemical weapons on Iranian citizens.

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On July 3, 1988, an Iranian A-300 Airbus passenger plane was shot down by the U.S. Navy warship, the USS Vincennes, in Iranian territorial waters. All 290 people on board Iranian Flight 655 were killed, having been blown out of the sky by two missiles. 66 of the passengers were children under 12. Although the U.S. military called the attack an "accident," the crew of the USS Vincennes was awarded combat-action ribbons and its Commander was specifically commended with a medal for "heroic achievement." 

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The U.S. Navy claimed that the crew of the USS Vincennes mistook the Iranian plane for an F-14 Tomcat fighter jet, an excuse that hardly holds up to the most cursory scrutiny (see diagram to the left for a tragic laugh). Iran's allegations that the warship was far too technologically advanced to make such a catastrophic mistake was dismissed by the American government. When questioned about the incident, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush growled, "I will never apologize for the United States of America, ever. I don't care what the facts are!" 

The United States military and government has never taken responsibility for this act of aggression and has never made an official apology to the Iranian people or government for the deadly assault on its citizens. 

Seth Meyers probably doesn't know any of this, which is strange considering this information is very easy to come by, to fact check, and to confirm. One might reasonably assume that, being the head writer of one of the longest-running shows on television, Seth Meyers is literate. All he'd need to do is read.

Meyers also suggested that Iran apologize to the United States for "pursuing nuclear weapons." Despite the fact that there has never been any evidence of Iran's quest for such weaponry (and extensive intelligence reporting to the contrary) and the Iranian government at all levels has constantly, consistently, and categorically denied any interest in militarizing their nuclear program on moral, rational, and religious grounds, and Iran's nuclear energy program is wholly transparent, heavily monitored, and completely legal under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Meyers has decided to take Cheney's word for it. Hey, it worked with Iraq, right?

Meyers also blamed Iran for high gas prices. Odd, considering that nothing has affected these prices more than American imperialism in the Middle East, notably its current occupation of Iran's two neighbors. Also, Iran's oil output is drastically below full production levels due to the years of heavy sanctions imposed upon the country by the United States. In addition, few things would improve Iran's drilling and export capabilities more than a successful, functional nuclear energy program, which would provide much needed power domestically and free up oil and gas for shipment abroad. 

Iran, as a country, is also blamed for denying the Holocaust. How an entire country can deny something is beyond me, but even if he meant President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad specifically, he'd be wrong. Ahmadinejad has never denied the Holocaust, but rather has questioned why the European genocide has been mythologized in order to justify the displacement of and violence against the Palestinian people. Ahmadinejad's reasoning in 2005 was as follows:
"If the Europeans are telling the truth in their claim that they have killed six million Jews in the Holocaust during the World War II - which seems they are right in their claim because they insist on it and arrest and imprison those who oppose it, why the Palestinian nation should pay for the crime. Why have they come to the very heart of the Islamic world and are committing crimes against the dear Palestine using their bombs, rockets, missiles and sanctions...If you have committed the crimes so give a piece of your land somewhere in Europe or America and Canada or Alaska to them to set up their own state there."
In February 2006, he spoke more directly about mythology and the stifling of criticism:
"Some Western governments, in particular the US, approve of the sacrilege on the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), while denial of the Myth of the Holocaust, based on which the Zionists have been exerting pressure upon other countries for the past 60 years and kill the innocent Palestinians, is considered as a crime."
In an article for Kein Krieg!, writers Anneliese Fikentscher and Andreas Neumann analyze Ahmadinejad's speeches and conclude that,
"What Ahmadinejad does is not denying the Holocaust. No! It is dealing out criticism against the mendacity of the imperialistic powers who use the Holocaust to muzzle critical voices and to achieve advantages concerning the legitimization of a planned war. This is criticism against the exploitation of the Holocaust...The assertion that Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust thus is wrong in more than one aspect. He does not deny the Holocaust, but speaks of denial itself. And he does not speak of denial of the Holocaust, but of denial of the Myth of Holocaust. This is something totally different. All in all he speaks of the exploitation of the Holocaust. The Myth of Holocaust, like it is made a subject of discussion by Ahmadinejad, is a myth that has been built up in conjunction with the Holocaust to - as he says - put pressure onto somebody. We might follow this train of thoughts or we might not. But we cannot equalize his thoughts with denial of the Holocaust."
Meyers mentions Iran's support for Hamas, the democratically elected representative of the Palestinian people in Gaza, as another thing Iran should apologize for. He does this less than two months after the Israeli military bombarded the Gaza Strip for three weeks, killing over 1,300 people, more than 400 of them children. Two new episodes of Saturday Night Live were aired during the massacre and, unsurprisingly, neither made any mention whatsoever of Israeli aggression. But here, quite unprovoked, Meyers decides to trot out an absurd litany of complaints against Iran. Clearly, for Meyers, resistance to dehumanization, starvation, invasion, occupation, and ethnic cleansing and the support for that resistance is, quite simply, "terrorism." I mean, hey, most Palestinians are Muslims after all and we know how Seth feels about those people. 

Finally, a reference is made to the outrage expressed over the publication of cartoons disparaging Islam in a Danish newspaper back in 2006. There were many protests, sometimes quite violent, all over the world in response to the offensive cartoons. In Iran, hundreds of protesters rioted outside the Danish Embassy in Tehran. Danish flags were burned, and the Embassy gate and two trees caught fire as well. The crowd was forced back by Iranian police with the use of tear gas. So, when Meyers mentions this event, does he mean that the Iranian people owe the Danish people an apology, or does he mean that the Iranian government should apologize for using tear gas on its own citizens in its attempt to disrupt a protest? Either way, how does a situation sparked by cartoons published in a Danish newspaper and the backlash Denmark received from it have to do with Iran apologizing to the United States? Is Copenhagen now an extension of Hollywood in Meyers' opinion?

Perhaps it wasn't funny enough for Meyers to say that Iran might first want to consider asking for an apology from the United States for deeming it part of an "Axis of Evil" after spontaneous candlelight vigils were held in Iran for the victims of the the World Trade Center attacks. The Iranian government was instrumental in allowing the United States to invade Afghanistan in 2001 and yet the US government consistently rebuffed Iranian overtures made by both Presidents Khatami and Ahmadinejad to reopen full diplomatic relations between the two countries. Perhaps Meyers should have suggested that the United States apologize for violating Iranian airspace with predator drones and territorial waters in the Persian Gulf with battleships since 2003 or for raiding the Iranian Consulate General in Iraq and arresting five staff members, before demand any demands are made on Iran.

Meyers is a comedian and a writer, not a journalist. He is not expected to investigate and expose new truths to the American public at 12:05am on Sunday mornings; however, one might argue, it also isn't his job to propagate lies and strengthen the already ridiculous misconceptions of his audience. In short, while he's not Bill Moyers, he's also not Larry the Cable Guy - at least he should try not to be. 

The reason the American public doesn't know anything about the world around it is because of people like Seth Meyers. Propaganda isn't spread simply through White House press releases, shoddy Beltway reporting, and loud-mouthed punditry. Common beliefs need constant support and encouragement from the mainstream, from outlets other than political media, in order to become solidified within the mindset of a community. Entertainers, more than most, shape public opinion and help stereotypes linger in the collective consciousness of their audience.

Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels said, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." Over six decades later, George W. Bush echoed this sentiment by explaining that, "In my line of work, you have to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink, kind of, catapult the propaganda." By making and repeating jokes based on false premises, comedians like Meyers do the busy work of war criminals like Goebbels and Bush, thus making their job easier. He is now firmly in service of the Obama Administration and will continue to push the same aggressive agenda under the guise of entertainment.

Seth, you ignorant slut.

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Nima Shirazi is a writer and a musician. He is a contributing commentator for Foreign Policy Journal and Palestine Think Tank. His analysis of United States policy and Middle East issues, particularly with reference to current events in Iran, Israel and Palestine, can be (more...)
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