The “Trusting Khomeini” Syndrome, Redux?

Falk’s imaginary Ayatollah, circa February, 1979:

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.”

The “exotic” Khomeini in his own words, from 1942:

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.

International Law Professor Richard Falk has become infamous for his calumnies against Israel, based upon deliberately (and transparently) deceitful “investigations.”

An eternal written testament to Falk’s sheer, triumphal idiocy—and a harbinger, perhaps, of  his moral cretinism as well—was published in the New York Times February 16, 1979. The very title of Falk’s opinion editorial, “Trusting Khomeini,” is pathognomonic of two devastating Western maladies—cultural self-loathing, and jihad denial. Indeed  these trends have worsened over the intervening three decades, as the civilizational war waged by Shiite and Sunni jihadists —consistent with Islam’s classical jihad theory—has intensified.

Distressingly ignorant appraisals of the contemporary Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB), which have accompanied analyses of the current unrest in Egypt, may represent the apotheosis of these trends. (For an accurate appraisal of the Egyptian MB’s current views and goals in its own Arabic words, carefully translated from the original, see this report.)

Historian Robert Conquest identified a salient feature of the delusive mindset of apologists for Soviet era Communist totalitarianism shared by today’s useful idiots for totalitarian Islam—willful blindness.

[A] con job needs a con man and a sucker. In their case many suckers even managed not to take in what they saw with their own eyes, or rather somehow to process unpleasantness mentally into something acceptable…Mind-set seems too strong a word: these were minds like jelly, ready for the master’s imprint…[T]his was an intellectual and moral disgrace on a massive scale.

What follows are lengthy extracts from Falk’s February, 1979 New York Times essay. However intellectually deficient Falk and his New York Times editorial page abettors may have been—and remain—it is still worth reflecting upon their clear, and nefarious goal, as elucidated by Protestant theologian and social critic Jacques Ellul.

The goal of modern propaganda is no longer to transform opinion but to arouse an active and mythical belief.

Corrective annotation is provided as embedded links to sources documenting Khomeini’s longstanding, clearly articulated views (as well as the views of what Falk terms his “entourage” of “moderates and progressives”), and what actually befell non-Muslim minorities, and “the Left” under the Shiite theocracy Khomeini re-installed. The best source on the human rights tragedy engendered by Iran’s retrograde 1979 Khomeini “revolution” remains historian Reza Afshari’s seminal 2001 publication, Human Rights in Iran: The Abuse of Cultural Relativism

A compendious online source of refutations to the fatuous claims by Falk was assembled here, entitled, “Promises Before and Results After Khomeini’s Islamists Took Over.” More specific sources are cited within the three notes, below.


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 told Jewish community leaders that it would be a tragedy if many of the 80,000 Jews left the country. Of course this view is qualified by his hostility to Israel because of its support of the Shah and its failure to resolve the Palestinian question.[Note: Shortly after the executions of Jewish community leaders, on manufactured charges of “espionage,” following  Khomeini’s ascension to power, in fact 75% of the Jewish community did flee. See here pp. 141-150 and here about these events, the overall plight of Jews and other non-Muslims in Iran, notably, Zoroastrians, Bahai, and Christians, and Khomeini’s apocalyptic, genocidal Islamic views about the Jews of Israel because they did not live as “dhimmis,” subjugated under the Sharia, Islamic Law—sentiments that were independent  of the so-called “Palestinians,” or any relationship between the Shah and “Zionists”]

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. [Note: Reza Afshari (p. 22) has summarized what actually transpired: “Politically, the highly repressive character of the regime emerged during the process by which the clerics severely restricted the basic freedoms of political activists. They achieved their goal by forcibly removing all secular, leftist, and liberal political forces and individuals from the wide and unwieldy array of political activities that the revolution had opened up in 1979.” See here and pp.  5,8, 68,87,110,112,123,139-141,144,206 for additional discussion of Iran’s theocratic constitution regarding the rights and status of the “non-religious,” and Sharia based punishments for apostasy, and blasphemy; See here for a brief discussion of Khomeini’s brutal campaign against the left, involving murder, torture, and incarceration.]

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. [Note: Apparently Falk saw nothing “fanatical, reactionary or (rife with) crude prejudices” in Khomeini’s indeed unapologetic, openly espoused call for open ended offensive jihad genocide (pp. 226-29) to achieve regional, then global Islamic hegemony; his views (pp. 141-50) on Jews and other non-Muslims, including the dehumanizing Shiite concept of najis; and his grotesque misogyny including sanctioning of female child abuse. These views were shared and sanctioned by his “entourage.” Falk’s willful “intellectual and moral disgrace” in Conquest’s apt formulation, apparently included no understanding of the religiously sanctioned practice of taqiyya/ kitman (“ketman” as per Milosz), or “dissembling” to promote Islamic goals.]

[Note: The concluding sections of Falk’s essay, below, reach such dizzying heights of willful delusion that no annotated comments are necessary.]

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. He has made clear frequently that he scorns what he considers to be the so-called Islamic Governments in Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Pakistan.

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.”

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