Culture

Leftist American Prof Denounces Trump for State-Controlled Iranian News Agency

Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP

Back during the Cold War, the Soviets would occasionally trot out American defectors who would denounce capitalism and imperialism and sing the praises of Marx and Lenin. In 1960, for example, NSA cryptologists William Martin and Bernon Mitchell held a press conference to explain their defection and proclaim: “Perhaps United States hostility towards Communism arises out of a feeling of insecurity engendered by Communist achievements in science, culture and industry.” Martin and Mitchell, however, were speaking from Moscow.

Today’s defectors, in contrast, are turncoats of the mind only, staying in place to rot the nation from within. And so Charles Taliaferro, a professor at St. Olaf College, a private liberal arts college in Northfield, Minnesota, didn’t have to travel halfway around the world to give aid and comfort to the enemy; he did it right from the comfort of home.

The aid and comfort was not what he said, which was a predictable denunciation of Trump and the trumped-up bogey of “Islamophobia,” but to whom he said it: Taliaferro was interviewed as a friendly and sympathetic authority by the Mehr News Agency, a Tehran-based propaganda organ for the Iranian regime that has been accused of providing a platform for Holocaust deniers.

Taliferro’s friendly relationship with such an entity is no surprise. Charles Taliaferro is a reliably far-Left member of the St. Olaf faculty: He “has been a member of St. Olaf’s Department of Philosophy since 1985. Like other professors around the world, and not just at St. Olaf, which promotes inclusion and confronts white supremacy and racial inequality, Taliaferro has argued for justice in terms of race, economics, gender not just in the class and seminar room, but in three books, a series of articles, newspaper interviews (mostly in Minneapolis and in Iran), and in lectures at Oxford University, Manchester University, and at Middlebury College where he advocated Black Lives Matter.”

What would be St. Olaf’s reaction if one of its professors had given an interview to a publication that is opposed to jihad violence and Sharia oppression of women, rather than to an organ of the regime that routinely chants “Death to America”? What would be the reaction at St. Olaf’s if a professor spoke as disparagingly of the Ayatollah Khamenei as Charles Taliaferro does of Trump here? That professor would be denounced, reprimanded, and possibly fired. But no one at St. Olaf College will have any problem with Charles Taliaferro’s flacking for the Islamic Republic.

Meanwhile, Taliaferro’s claim that “Islamophobia” in the West is a result of the “public media,” which is “notoriously unreliable as television outlets such as Fox News traffic in a combination of fear and entertainment,” is ridiculous. If anyone in the United States has a negative view of Islam, it certainly isn’t because of the watery soup of half-truth and Islamic apologetics that Fox generally presents; it is because of the constant drumbeat of jihad violence carried out in the name of Islam and in accord with its teachings, such as the recent beheading of Samuel Paty in France for the crime of showing his class a cartoon of Muhammad.

That jihad violence is the reason for everything to which Taliaferro objects here; Trump took effective counterterror measures because of a genuine jihad terror threat, and it is telling that Taliaferro and the Mehr News Agency take for granted that doing this was simply arousing “fear of Muslims” and spreading “Islamophobia and hatred against Muslims.” Islamic advocacy groups in the U.S. such as the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations have for years claimed that virtually any counterterror measure was unacceptable in spreading “hate” of Muslims.

This spurious claim of victimhood, combined with a refusal to work to root out jihadis and those holding jihadi sentiments from Muslim communities, led more people to be suspicious of Islam, which in turn enabled CAIR and its allies to further their claims of “Islamophobia.” They’ve got quite a racket worked out. Meanwhile, Mehr News Agency is happy to provide a platform to Americans who are willing to further this propaganda. Just as William Martin and Bernon Mitchell were useful to the Soviet Union, so today Charles Taliaferro is most helpful to the Iranian mullahs. In today’s academic environment, that makes him just another professor.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.

The New York Times Loves Iran, and Wants You to Love It, Too