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Three American Professors: 'Useful Idiots' of the Tehran Regime

In 2001, Michael Walzer, the Princeton professor and editor of the social-democratic magazine Dissent, wrote a much discussed essay called “Can There Be a Decent Left?” He was ambiguous, but hopeful, and very critical of those on the Left who after 9/11 still saw the United States as the only real enemy of the world’s people. There have been since then scores of events that have proven that the only answer to Walzer is that there cannot be, since the raison d’etre of the Left is the opposition to democratic capitalism and to any exertion of American power in the world.

More proof came this weekend, as the internet is abuzz with a short video posted by MEMRI of a conference held in Tehran last February, but which only now is getting noticed. The video consists of interviews with three American professors who attended a solidarity conference arranged by the mullahs to publicize the Occupy Wall Street movement, the key event of the American left.

The professors identified in the video are Albert Vitale and John Hammond, who claim to be on the faculty of Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, and a sociologist from Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus in New York, Heather Gautney. I was able to find Gautney on the faculty list of Fordham, but the name John Hammond does not come up at the Brooklyn College website. Vitale is a prof. of sociology and an elected member of the PSC, the AFL-CIO affiliated union that represents the faculty and is now led by a very left-wing leadership. (I originally used Memri's wrong spelling of his name and have now corrected it.)

In a report that appeared on the Fox News website in March, Gautney is quoted as being pleased that the Iranians supported OWS. She said the conference “is quite a welcome development, and speaks to the Iranians’ affection for Americans despite all the political conflict.” She sounded like an advertisement for the existence of American “useful idiots” for the Iranian regime. It seemed not to occur to Professor Gautney that she was being used by the very regime that brutally suppresses its own dissidents and welcomes an alliance with the Western Left, which it woos as allies who oppose the United States of America.

Although Gautney told Fox’s reporter Mike Levine that at first she worried about the regime’s motive for allowing the meeting, her fears were put aside when she studied the conference’s agenda. She concluded that “it seemed like a very legitimate kind of project.” The government media reported the event and ran a story with the heading: “Experts: Occupy Wall Street likely to topple US administration.”