Photo: The WSJ calls him "Iranian reformist clergyman" Mohsen Kadivar.
Ahistorical and illogical things have been been written by many observers of the Iranian election protests who, looking at what the evidence to date suggests is little more than an intra-Islamic power struggle, see a glorious revolution of liberty-loving secularists ready to propel Iran into the heart of the Western world. Maybe it's the blue jeans that confuse them. Anyway, I think we have a winner in this dubious category: Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal. His column begins this way:
It isn't always that the words Allahu Akbar sound this sweet to Western ears.
I'm actually going to let "Allahu Akbar" sounding so "sweet to Western ears" pass because there is so much more....Stephens continues:
It's a muggy Friday afternoon and I'm standing curbside right outside Iran's Permanent Mission to the U.N. in New York City. Preaching in Farsi is a turbaned Shiite imam named Mohsen Kadivar. Hours earlier, in Tehran, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had delivered a bullying sermon at Tehran University, warning the opposition that they would be "responsible for bloodshed and chaos" if they continued to march. Mr. Kadivar's sermon -- punctuated by the Allahu Akbars of 20 or so kneeling worshippers -- is intended as a direct riposte. Allahu Akbar has also become the rallying cry of the demonstrators in Iran.
Note that the imam, Mohsen Kadivar, is preaching in Farsi, so it is unlikely Stephens has any idea what he is saying. (Of course, when I quote Kadivar's English statements below, you will realize that a language barrier is not the only block in operation here.) Note, too, that Khameini is giving "bullying" sermons while "Allahu Akbar" is becoming the "rallying cry" of demonstrators. Khameini bad, Allahu Akbar, good. (As I wrote earlier this week, what's the diff?)
Mr. Kadivar, 50, is a well-known quantity in Iran. As a young engineering student he was arrested by the Shah's police for agitating against the regime. He later became a seminarian in Qom, where he studied under the increasingly liberal-leaning Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri. Like his teacher, who had once been the Ayatollah Khomeini's designated successor--
another intra-Islamic power struggle--
Mr. Kadivar ran afoul of the regime. In 1999, he was arrested a second time and jailed for 18 months.
Apparently, here's a guy who runs afoul of "regimes"--the Shah's pro-Western regime, Khomeini's pro-jihad regime -- no worries, it's all anti-"regime." Add to this Kadivar becoming a "seminarian" -- how pious, how holy! --and later studying under the "increasingly liberal-leaning" Grand Poobah Montazeri, and, no doubt, we've got one liberty-loving, deeply spiritual WSJ-reader.
Let's just pause at the "increasingly liberal-leaning" Montazeri for a moment. On p. 142 of The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism editor Andrew Bostom notes what Montazeri has written in support of the late (and unlamented) Ayatollah Khomeini's views on najis things. (These are the "unclean" things in Islam that Khomeini reaffirmed on seizing power from the secularizing Shah, and they include the ritualized uncleanliness of the non-Muslim along with urine, excrement, sperm, blood,dog, pig, bones, wine, beer, perspiration of a camel that eats filth...I didn't make that up and Khomeini goes on from there.) Montazeri, Bostom writes, "further indicated that a non-Muslim's (kafir's) impurity was `a political order from Islam and must be adhered to by the followers of Islam, and the goal [was] to promote general hatred toward those who are outside Muslim circles.' This `hatred' was to ensure that Muslims would not succomb to corrupt -- that is, non-islamic -- thoughts."
So Montazeri isn't exactly the increasingly leaning tower of liberalism.
Back to the Stephens piece on Kadivar:
He credits Mir Hossein Mousavi -- then a university faculty colleague of his -- for helping to spring him free. He's now teaching at Duke.
I highlight the Duke part for all parents paying Duke tuition.
Mr. Kadivar's chief claim to fame rests on a three-part work of political philosophy titled "The Theories of the State in Shiite Jurisprudence." At heart, it is a devastating theological critique of the Ayatollah Khomeini's notion of "the rule of the jurist" (Velayat e Faqih), which serves as the rationale for the near-dictatorial powers enjoyed by the Supreme Leader.
"The principle of Velayat e-Faqih is neither intuitively obvious nor rationally necessary," Mr. Kadivar wrote. "It is neither a requirement of religion nor a necessity for denomination. It is neither a part of Shiite general principles nor a component of detailed observances. It is, by near consensus of the Shiite Ulama, nothing more than a jurisprudential minor hypothesis."
Or, as Mr. Kadivar simplified it for me in an interview in the back of his van, "There are two interpretations of Islam. The aggressive Islam of Ahmadinejad, or the mercy Islam of Mousavi."
(Insert head in hands. Breathe. Recover.)
What ... rot.
Just a little context: Mousavi is a founder of Hezbollah, served as Ayatollah Khomeini's prime minister, initiated contact with AQ Khan to set up Iran's nuclear program, and in the words of John Bolton, is "fully committed to Iranian terrorism." But that's "mercy Islam," according to Kadivar--and to Bret Stephens, who accepts this whole sorry pitch like a hapless Madoff mark.
And what of dear Prof. Kadivar? Well, let's see. According to the Financial Times, when A-jad convened his Tehran conference "A World Without Zionism" back in October, 2005 -- a "time of rising concern over Tehran's nuclear programme" -- and called for Israel to "wiped off the map," US and European officials were genuinely outraged, as the paper reports. FT.com also reports:
But Mohsen Kadivar, a philosophy professor at Tehran university [he gets around] and a dissident cleric, yesterday said such radicalism must be understood "as a reaction to the foreign policy of the US and England against the Islamic world, including Palestine and Iraq."
Not only is he now a shill for Mousavi's "mercy Islam," Kadivar is an A-jad apologist! In February 2006, the Financial Times again called on Kadari to comment on A-jad's heinous venom toward Israel. Kadivar said:
“The Muslim world has been radicalised by US foreign policy, the gap between rich and poor that goes against Islam’s belief in justice, and because modernity has brought dependence not independence for Muslim countries.”
More apologetics: It's all our fault.
So much for Bret Stephens' symbol of liberation. Stephens writes on, oblivious:
Thirty years on [from the Islamic revolution of 1979], what the demonstrators in Tehran's streets seek is to join the liberationist impulses of the regime's founding --
such as the "liberationist impulses" to install a sharia-based theocracy --
with the liberal aspirations of the revolution's children.
"Liberal"--like Montazeri? Like Kadivar? Or just mercy-Muslim like Mousavi? Stephens concludes:
As for the green revolutionaries, they will soon find out what consolation, or strength, they draw from knowing God is on their side, with or without America.
Q: Does the WSJ carry journalistic malpractice insurance?