It ought to be political suicide. A Bush administration official (specifically, the Defense Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Coalition Affairs) told a group of six members of the British Parliament, “In any case, I hate all Iranians.” Three MPs attending the meeting have confirmed this to the British tabloid The Daily Mail.
The official in question, Debra Cagan, appears in the Daily Mail photo in a red leather blouse and what looks like a chain-mail choker around her neck, along with some sort of martial cross although I understand she’s Jewish. Her hair’s slicked back like that of a fifties street gang kid. She looks like a butch dominatrix. I hope she would not be offended by this description because it is accurate and I suspect it’s her intention to project such an image. (Compare Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in February 2005 arriving at the Wiesbaden Army Airfield wearing a black skirt showing just a little leg, a black gold-buttoned coat descending to mid-calf, and knee-high dirk-slim high-heeled boots. What fashion statement are these powerful political women trying to make?)
Dressed that way, she states in a casual aside to respectable Britons, as though they’ll understand and be anything other than appalled, “I hate all Iranians.” Did she preface the remark with, “Just between us imperialists”? Did she expect that they’d just nod in sympathy and keep the matter to themselves? The Mail reports they were in fact “taken aback,” which of course speaks somewhat well for them.
So now the word is out, but predictably, denied. “She doesn’t speak that way,” an unnamed Defense Department official assured the Mail. It’s not fashionable in the early 21^st century to hate entire peoples, and there are actually laws in civilized countries against hate speech. A Defense Department official cannot say to British MPs, “In any case, I hate all Jews,” for example. This was possible in the 1930s, but would be political suicide today. But maybe you can say what Cagan did, without job consequences.
When you have the entire Senate calling for the U.S. to “confront” Iran, the entire Congress deferring to AIPAC in its refusal to demand that Bush consult with it before attacking Iran, the Persian Empire of Xerxes ludicrously depicted as the enemy of “freedom” in a popular film, the president of a great U.S. university taking the opportunity of the Iranian president’s invited visit to insult him at length before conceding to him the podium—well, you know that norms of civility no longer apply. Logic, reason, balance pale before the power of myth and backwards reasoning of those seeking to create their own new, wild and spectacularly crazy reality. The Nazis called it “the triumph of the will”—the will that slams down the hated, weaker, lesser peoples and allows the Ubermenschen, the supermen, to realize their fate.
Somehow it seems fitting that a Defense Department official should speak so frankly as three U.S. aircraft carriers linger off the Iranian coast, the well-financed anti-Iran disinformation campaign swells, and neocon ideologues granted extensive White House access explicitly demand the bombing of Iran. It is the natural culmination of the vilification trend. If you hate all of them (and are grotesquely ignorant of their vast contribution to human civilization), why not nuke them, and their monuments and treasures, and destroy their 3000 year history, and “wipe them off the map”? Why not prepare public opinion for that shattering scenario, and grind those boot heels into the brains of any sympathizers of those you call “sand-niggers” as you try to spread Bush’s gospel of hate?
GARY LEUPP is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org