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May 12, 2006

OF COURSE Ahmadinejad Sounds Like Cindy Sheehan

The recent letter from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to George Bush predictably was filled with criticism of America. Just as predictable was Rush Limbaugh's reaction:

The letter covers a list of grievances that have made Bush deeply unpopular among Muslims: the Iraq war, the U.S. support for Israel, and the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.

Once again, it's the Democratic talking points...Yeah, it's Cindy Sheehan talking.

Back in January, Chris Matthews said something similar about bin Laden's latest tape:

...he sounds like an over-the-top Michael Moore here, if not a Michael Moore.

This kind of thing upsets many of my progressive compatriots. It doesn't upset me, though. And I don't think the correct response to any of it is to demand Limbaugh or Matthews apologize. Instead, what we should be saying is:

Of course Ahmadinejad sounds like Cindy Sheehan. Of course bin Laden sounds like Michael Moore.

And why do they all sound the same?

For exactly the same reason George Bush, when talking about Iran, sounds like Shirin Ebadi.

Lots of people find this confusing, so let me try to explain.

Many countries have right-wing nutjobs as leaders. These leaders often do terrible things, like invading other nations or supporting terrorism. Meanwhile, these countries also have normal people who are extremely critical of their own right-wing nutjob leaders.

When two of these countries with right-wing nutjob leaders come into conflict, the leaders will loudly criticize each other. Often these criticisms are completely accurate. Indeed, they will generally be exactly the same criticism made by the normal people of the country being criticized.

So, Cindy Sheehan accurately criticizes the U.S. for the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. So does Ahmadinejad.

Meanwhile, Shirin Ebadi—the Iranian woman who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003—accurately criticizes Iran's lack of a free press and independent judiciary. And so does Bush. (In fact, Bush's message broadcast to Iranians just before the elections there last June could easily have been written by Ebadi.)

The difference, of course, is Sheehan and Ebadi are sincere, and are criticizing their own countries because they love them and want them to be better.

By contrast, Ahmadinejad and Bush are preposterously insincere hypocrites. Does anyone think Ahmadinejad truly cares about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, even as the Iranian government imprisons and tortures its own citizens in Tehran? Does anyone think Bush truly cares about an independent judiciary and free press in Iran, even as the Republican Party does its best to destroy an independent judiciary and free press in America?

Obviously you have to be an incredible tool and/or Rush Limbaugh to believe either thing. Ahmadinejad criticizes America to whip up fear and hatred among Iranians, which is good for him politically. Meanwhile Bush criticizes Iran to whip up fear and hatred among Americans, which is good for him. The only people it's bad for are normal Americans and normal Iranians.

And here's the part Rush Limbaugh doesn't want you to think about: whenever Bush criticizes Iran's human rights record, there are Iranian Rush Limbaughs who say, "Did you hear that? Bush sounds just like Shirin Ebadi. Haw, haw!" Then the Iranian Rush Limbaughs go and snort some Iranian Oxycontin.

If this still doesn't make sense, I've expressed it below in easy-to-understand diagram form.

(Note that while this uses America and Iran, it can easily apply to any two countries led by right-wing nutjobs.)

Posted at May 12, 2006 02:58 PM | TrackBack

That is brilliant. I feel that I best digest informaton when it's in chart form, although next time a spreadsheet of specific criticisms would be useful, too.

Posted by: Gordon at May 12, 2006 03:14 PM

I suspect it is the labelled, coloured diagrams --- not just the insightful analysis and humour --- that makes this bl.., i mean website, so great. Great work Jon.
- Faithful lurker

Posted by: ashvin at May 12, 2006 04:36 PM

As always, your website serves up perfect information about that age old malady of mankind: tribalism. That's all it boils down to isn't it?

Posted by: En Ming Hee at May 12, 2006 08:28 PM

looks like someone* is still on the juice-wagon**.

*Rush Limbaugh
**Illegal usage of oxycontin

Posted by: almostinfamous at May 12, 2006 11:26 PM

Jon - I'm with you on everything except for bin Laden. I think he's just as sincere in his critiques as Cindy Sheehan is; he's always struck me as a person driven by his scary ideology rather than someone interested only in agglomerating power and willing to say anything to do so. But it's not insincerity that we ought to look for - it's the viewpoint that matters. It doesn't matter who mouths it. Torture in Guantanamo is something you believe is either right or wrong. There's a reason ad hominem arguments are called logical fallacies; it's because they are. Who says something has no bearing on whether it's true or not.

Posted by: saurabh at May 13, 2006 12:28 AM

If I could, I would crown you king of the diagrammers.

Or is it diagrammars? ...I don't know. It doesn't matter, because making you king would be UnAmerican anyway. We can sidestep the spelling and royalty issues by giving you a fancypants latin secondary name--

Jonathan Schwarz, diagrammaticus blogosphericus maximus.

I hope the panda and the Stuttsers would approve.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at May 13, 2006 07:02 AM

What about ultra-left nutjobs like those in Cuba, Vietnam, China and yes, here in Singapore? Shouldn't we do a piece on them too?

By ultra-left nut jobs, I refer those governments that like to keep their people nice, rather than constantly angry at others, so that they would be easier to control.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at May 13, 2006 09:14 AM

In Matthew's defence, and I RARELY defend him, this past week he did say something along the lines that the majority of American's represent Cindy Sheehan since now there's a majority that opposes the war. It's no longer an anti-war movement, it's the MAJORITY of America.

Posted by: Fred F. at May 14, 2006 02:36 PM

Cindy Sheehan lost me. At first I supported her. Now she's FUBAR. She goes around embracing communists and anarchists and takes pictures like this:

Posted by: Jason at May 14, 2006 04:06 PM

Nice work. I have almost given up trying to explain this sort of thing certain family members, etc. But here's something I can work with. The chart is clear enough I could reproduce it from memory. Although I don't think a cocktail napkin would be big enough.

Posted by: Big Elf at May 14, 2006 11:52 PM

I think I would understand that better with different colors. Red and green made me think of Christmas, and what I want, and what I have to buy, and...what were we talking about again?

Posted by: zen_more at May 15, 2006 03:22 AM

Cindy Sheehan is not a "normal american". If you dont want your son to get killed in war, dont let them sign up for the armed forces. Anybody that joins the military should know it's risks. I'm sorry her son got killed in Iraq...truly. Maybe her son thought he was on a worthwhile mission. Us mortals will never know. And for you chart makers, americans are nothing like Iranians. Thank GOD!

Posted by: CD at May 15, 2006 02:13 PM


Red and green made me think of Christmas

Me too, but I only noticed it when it was too late. Maybe I can make the graphic into something that people can buy, and all the inherent tension will be resolved.


And for you chart makers, americans are nothing like Iranians. Thank GOD!

That is one of the greatest instances of auto-refutation I've ever encountered. Thank you.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at May 15, 2006 02:33 PM

But how do we work out that "???" before it all goes bonkers again?

Posted by: bones at May 15, 2006 04:41 PM

If Cindy Sheehan is an ordinary American than Boy George is an ordinary Brit.

Posted by: David at May 16, 2006 01:36 PM

In what sense isn't Boy George an ordinary Brit?

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at May 17, 2006 08:23 AM

Ordinary Brits don't bother with rehab.

Posted by: hedgehog at May 18, 2006 02:21 AM