All too often, the people (and leaders) of Iran rejoice in hurling insults and death threats at Israel and the United States. They do so in the streets, and they do so in the digital realm, as well. Michael J. Totten takes a look at the bizarre Twitter account of Iran’s “Supreme Leader,” Ayatollah Khamenei:
Khamenei has 120,000 Twitter followers but only follows five people himself. Wondering who are the lucky five, I clicked to find out and discovered that three of them are his other accounts, one of them is from the ghost of his predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini, and the last is some random Islamic Twitter feed.
Twitter is a one-way conversation for this guy. Following other people? That’s for teachable folks who might learn something from somebody else, or at least for those of us who are passively interested in what somebody else has to say.
Iran’s ruler is doing what the Soviet Union used to do and what Hugo Chavez did more recently. Both used the West’s language of human rights as weapons against the West while resisting everything Western human rights activists stand for. Partly they were just being cynical, and partly they were pointing out the West’s supposed hypocrisy.
You could argue that I’m just doing what Khamenei is doing by saying the other guy has no clothes, but there’s a difference, and it’s crucial. I actually care about human rights, not just for Americans, but also for Iranians and everyone else. Plenty of Iranians care about human rights, too, but it’s safe to say that pretty much none of them are fixtures in the Iranian government.
The most foolish among us might be convinced that tyrannical dictators on the other side of the planet care more about such things than we do. That’s the theory, anyway. Hey, maybe the Iranian leader is one of us! Maybe everything our own government says is a lie!
Every village has its idiot. Moscow managed to sucker some of us during the Soviet era, at least for a while, with this sort of shtick. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez tricked a handful, as well. For years the Bolivarian Republic’s embassy in Washington flooded my inbox with press releases that read like they were written by Elizabeth Warren.
The communist bloc was an unspeakable prison house spanning more than one continent, but its utopian ideals appeared lofty to a small percentage of Westerners who couldn’t be bothered to look at the details. The utopian ideals of Iran’s revolutionary regime, though, will never gain traction among those of us who aren’t Shia Muslims.
Iran’s tyrant will not pull this off, but it’s fun watching him try.