The NY Times’ affection: for Khomeini (1979) and the Muslim Brotherhood (2011)

The NY Times’ affection: for Khomeini (1979) and the Muslim Brotherhood (2011)

I am indebted to Andrew Bostom for reminding us (here, with extended commentary) of Princeton Emeritus Professor Richard Falk’s eulogy to the Ayatollah Khomeini, published in the New York Times, February 16, 1979, of which excerpts are re-posted below.

Such sentiments seem entirely consistent with the affection currently being extended to the Muslim Brotherhood through the pages of the NY Times by America’s political elites.

Consider Western leaders who are so eager to hand Egypt over to the Brotherhood – and whose forerunners were so ardent for Iran’s religious reformation 40 years ago.  Would they be equally welcoming of the Islamization of America itself?  Do such cold-blooded and heartless fantasies truly mean that America is on the verge of an irreversible intellectual and political decline?

Richard Falk, professor of international law at Princeton University, recently visited the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in France.

Part of the confusion in America about Iran’s social revolution involves Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. More than any third-world leader, he has been depicted in a manner calculated to frighten.

… In recent months, before his triumphant return to Tehran, the Ayatollah gave numerous reassurances to non-Moslem communities in Iran.

He also indicated that the non-religious left will be free to express its views in an Islamic republic and to participate in political life, provided only that it does not “commit treason against the country” by establishing foreign connections—a lightly-veiled reference to anxiety about Soviet interference.

To suppose that Ayatollah Khomeini is dissembling seems almost beyond belief. His political style is to express his real views defiantly and without apology, regardless of consequences. He has little incentive suddenly to become devious for the sake of American public opinion. Thus the depiction of him as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false. What is also encouraging is that his entourage of close advisers is uniformly composed of moderate progressive individuals…[T]hey are widely respected in Iran outside religious circles, share a notable record of concern for human rights and seem eager to achieve economic development that results in a modern society oriented on satisfying the whole population’s basic needs.

… Ayatollah Khomeini said recently, in France, that in any well-governed society “the ruler does not live very differently from the ordinary person.” For him, to be religious is to struggle for these political goals, yet the religious leader’s role is to inspire politics, not to govern. Hence, it is widely expected that he will soon go to the holy city of Qum, at a remove from the daily exercise of power. There he will serve as a guide or, if necessary, as a critic of the republic.

In looking to the future, Ayatollah Khomeini has spoken of his hopes to show the world what a genuine Islamic government can do on behalf of its people. 

… Despite the turbulence, many non-religious Iranians talk of this period as “Islam’s finest hour.” Having created a new model of popular revolution based, for the most part, on non-violent tactics. Iran may yet provide us with a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third-world country. If this is true, then indeed the exotic Ayatollah may yet convince the world that “politics is the opiate of the people.”

Again from Bostom’s post, compare these arrant falsehoods with Khomeini’s own words, published 37 years before the 1979 NY Times editorial:

Those who study jihad will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world. All the countries conquered by Islam or to be conquered in the future will be marked for everlasting salvation. For they shall live under Allah’s law (Sharia). … Islam says: ‘Kill [the non-Muslims], put them to the sword and scatter their armies.’ Islam says: ‘Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to paradise, which can be opened only for holy warriors (jihadists)!’ There are hundreds of other Koranic psalms and hadiths (sayings of the prophet) urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all that mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim. … Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless.

Mark Durie is the founding director of the Institute for Spiritual Awareness, a Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and a Senior Research Fellow of the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at the Melbourne School of Theology.

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