Sunday, September 03, 2006

Translating Khatami -- Don't Worry, He's Moderate 

As the map-wiping rhetoric of Iran's President Ahmadinejad continues apace, let's take a brief respite from his doom and gloom and focus instead for a moment on the words of Iran's famous leading moderate, the previous president, Mohammad Khatami (AKA the former-Reformer). Obviously former-President Khatami needs a translator so I thought I'd volunteer for the job, free of charge:

Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami says current United States foreign policy triggers terrorism and violence in the world, but American Muslims can play a key role in promoting peace and security.
This is a tricky one to get right, since so much is conveyed by nuance. What he means is that the United States foreign policy is unacceptable to terrorists, who are left with no choice other than to reluctantly use violence to try to force Americans to change their foreign policy.

The second part could be translated a number of different ways, but he seems to imply that he is asking American Muslims to help the terrorists change American foreign policy, so that the tragic annoyance of terrorists will cease and peace can reign once more, at least for awhile. Note that American Muslims are obviously not responsible for what an Iranian spokesman asks of them, since as Americans they retain the right to freedom of speech to either support or denounce Khatami's positions, and so are responsible for their own choices, not Khatami's.

"As America claims to be fighting terrorism, it implements policies that cause the intensification of terrorism and institutionalized violence," Khatami said...
Khatami wants Americans to understand that if they would stop resisting terrorism, then the terrorism would not intensify, and would instead remain at a constant -- but predictable -- level more conducive to slow, quiet, gradual surrender.

Take for instance 9/11.

Had the Clinton administration not engaged in so much antagonistic anti-terrorist activity in the years preceding 9/11, then the Twin Towers would in all likelihood still be standing today (no promises though). Don't misunderstand, Khatami is fully aware that in the the years leading up to 9/11 the US did as close to nothing about terrorism as is bureaucratically possible -- a few checkboxes had to be checked off certifying that the requisite cruise missile leveled the requisite sand dune -- but even Khatami recognizes that as a perfectly harmless bean-counting response. Such policies do, nevertheless, apparently trigger institutionalized violence and horrendous acts of terrorism. America needs to seek new methods of accomodating terror's demands if it wishes to escape its role as the eternal initiator of a horrible Cycle of Violence.

Speaking through a [different, non-AbbaGav] translator, Khatami told tens of thousands of Muslims gathered at the meeting that there is a chronic misunderstanding between the West and the East that goes back to the Crusades and continues today.
Left unstated is Khatami's main point: that it is the successful and freedom-loving West which is doing all the misunderstanding, and which must change its understanding of the world to be more like the stagnant, repressive theocratic regime Khatami represents.

He said American Muslims "through active participation in the social arena" can form lobbying groups and form a consensus with other Americans.
Khatami seemed to suggest something like "Help America Surrender" as a name for these groups, but I couldn't make it out clearly.

He said Muslims must forge a new identity that embraces the modern world, tolerates other religions and works toward peace.
Hmmm. There must be some mistake. That last bit sounded like it didn't need any translation; although, I'm stumped as to how it fits in with the rest. I wonder which quote out of everything he said will appear in the most newspapers.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: