Khamenei’s has developed a keen interest in the welfare of African Americans and Native Americans: in a series of tweets, he rants on the evils of slavery, on the plight of Native Americans and African Americans, on the “arrogance” of the West, on colonialism etc…together with hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter, #Ferguson, #NativeAmericanLivesMatter & #WoundedKneeMassacre.
But Khamenei is not content to just criticize the West’s historical problems: besides his usual praises of Islam and the Prophet, he “found it in his heart” to praise the teachings of Jesus and Mary in order to emphasize the “cruelty” of the US in respect to the teachings of Christianity.
Glaringly and cynically absent, of course, were tweets concerning the welfare of the oppressed in Iran.
Perhaps, Khamenei simply chose to believe his Judicial Chief, Sadeq Larijani, and Human Rights Chief, Javad Larijani, who state that there are no problems of human rights in Iran. Their denials are at their worst since they deny the horrible experiences and lives of the hundreds of thousands of victims of repression in Iran. These are the same Larijanis who continue to treat any criticism and reports by governments and NGO’s on the horrid state of human rights in Iran as being politicized attacks by the West.
Or perhaps, Khamenei is so detached from his own people that he seems to care more about the fate of victims of racism in the US than the fate of oppressed women, religious minorities, gays, opposition leaders, bloggers, journalists etc… in the Islamic State of Iran.
Or most probably, Khamenei is guilty of abusing the problems of human rights in the US as a political weapon to stir up hatred against the US by American minorities and by countries critical of the US in general.
There is racism in the US just as there is racism and discrimination all over the world without exception. Races, religions and sexes are simply brands with sets of beliefs and expectations that disregard the actual human beings within these brands. A brand is a short-cut for people to decide how to act and react to a certain brand without investigating each time. Each reader will have pre-conceived ideas about Muslims, Negroes, Italians, gays, women etc…that may have nothing to do with the people they are assigning these brands to.
A great example of this can be found in Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink”: Gladwell, whose mother is black, takes a test on racism and finds out that he himself is racist in regards to blacks.
All of this doesn’t justify racism in any manner: it just puts racism into a “million shades of grey” perspective instead of just “black-white”. Nor does it mean that all incidents of racism are similar to each other.
- Personal vs. Institutional Racism: It’s impossible to magically erase any thoughts/feelings of racism in every person in the world. It isn’t impossible to eradicate institutionalized racism through laws and constitutions. There is a huge difference between a racist police man (judge, politician…) and a racist police force (court, government…). Both are reprehensible but the latter is much worse.
- Empowered vs. Defenseless Victims: Victims of racism should be able to fight back at their oppressors. Ideally, they should be able to freely communicate their plight through the media, to legally protest their cause and to take their oppressors to court. These are legalized freedoms that may not negate the actual acts of racism but they empower the victims to fight back for their rights. The freedom of the press, protests and litigation to fight back at racism may not negate the actual act of racism but each successful fight discourages racism in the future.
- Improving vs. Worsening Trend: Each act of racism should be judged by its place on the scale of the trend in a specific environment to find out if it is representative of a growing norm in the future or a stubborn survivor of the past. Although the victim might not care about trends, they represent an important context to understand the specific act.
- …for the regime in Tehran to admit to its inherent problems of human rights and to plan how to deal with racism in the future.
- …for Khamenei to listen to the plight of his own people instead of trying to highlight the plight of other nationals.
…for the West to hold Iran accountable for its horrid state of human rights instead of believing populistic drivel meant to divert attention