This weekend, Iran erupted in protests over the downing of Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 on Wednesday morning, which claimed the lives of 176 people. Initially, the Iranian regime had denied any wrongdoing in the plane’s suspicious crash, but Tehran has since admitted that it its military mistakenly shot down the plane with an antiaircraft missile. As a result of the confession, hundreds of Iranians took to the street in protest on Saturday, demanding that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei step down.
Videos circulating Twitter feature Iranian students gathered outside Amir Kabir University in Tehran, shouting “Commander-in-Chief resign, resign,” referring to Khamenei, whose regime has faced accusations of corruption and terrorism for months. Late last year, Reuters reported 1,500 Iranians were killed in less than two weeks, following the eruption of protests after a surprise spike in oil prices.
Late afternoon on Saturday, President Trump tweeted in Farsi in support of the protesters, the tweet roughly translating to “To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I’ve stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you. We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage.” According to Saeed Ghasseminejad, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, President Trump’s Farsi tweet was the most-liked Persian tweet in Twitter’s history.
Since President Trump entered office, his administration has shown unequivocal support for those opposing the mullahs’ repressive regime, from partially withdrawing from the Iran Deal to empowering those opposed to Iranian hegemony in the region. Indeed, President Trump’s series of tweets in Farsi represent not an aberration but a doubling down on the stance his administration has held for the entirety of his presidency.
Meanwhile, not one 2020 Democratic contender has offered comments on the current protests in Iran, where dissenters are risking life and limb to voice their overwhelming dissatisfaction and frustration with the Iranian regime. This silence marks a startling pivot from the frequent mention of Iran we witnessed prior to the eruption of the protests. What changed?
Whether it’s antisemitism or the oppression of the Iranian people, the left has no interest in drawing attention to any issue unless the problem can be attributed to President Trump. Furthermore, those on the left likely feel uneasy about the protests in Iran, as they are left scrambling to explain how President Obama’s crowning foreign policy achievement known as the Iran Deal could have possibly devolved into such a chaotic and murderous mess.
Admitting the righteousness of the Iranian demonstrators means admitting the wholesale malignancy of the very actors President Obama empowered. And given the partisan hackery that has infected most corners of the political realm, such a statement would be deeply uncomfortable.
Nothing showcases the gap in moral clarity between the American left and the Iranian people more than the attribution gymnastics Democrats and the media engaged in when addressing Flight 752. As I noted here, various prominent figures on the left and in the media have rushed to blame President Trump for the plane crash, desperately seizing on any opportunity to pin Trump. Meanwhile, protesters in Iran, despite limited access to information beyond state-controlled outlets, continue to offer a full-throated condemnation of the Iranian regime, laying blame for the crash squarely (and rightfully) on Khomeini. A recent video here shows university students in Tehran refusing to walk on the American and Israeli flags.
As noted earlier, these protests have been unfolding for months, and Trump has an opportunity to get right what Obama got so inexorably wrong. As our media and the larger left parrot Tehran talking points about the regime’s violence in the region, I encourage readers to question the “reporting” and “analysis” of U,S. national security elites, who have become infected with an insatiable need to protect Obama’s legacy at all costs.
These aren’t serious individuals. As their grandstanding over the past few weeks, masked as “concern” for the future of Iran, has demonstrated, they aren’t interested in providing any semblance of moral clarity. They’re just obsessed with Trump.
Erielle is a graduate of Middlebury College, where she focused her research on the rise of fundamentalist Islam in Eastern Europe. She is an alumna of the Hoover Institution and former research assistant at Stanford Graduate School of Business. This past year, she spent several months in Israel as a legal intern at both Shurat HaDin, a Ramat Gan civil rights firm devoted to anti-terrorist litigation, and Kohelet Policy Forum, a Jerusalem-based think tank. A part-time law student at Georgetown University Law Center, Erielle will be graduating in 2022.