Iran, USA, and Human Rights
November 30, 1978 — The Daily Iowan (letter)
Korey Willoughby, who was involved with the Iranian People’s Support Committee at the time, wrote this salty letter to the editor of the University of Iowa student newspaper The Daily Iowan. Within months she would become a staff writer for the paper, including occasional editorials. She later pursued journalism professionally in the Chicago area.
In her letter, Willoughby called out Patricia M. Derian, the first U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs (1977-1981), on a recent statement relating to Iran. The source was a U.S. News & World Report interview that got picked up by UPI, in which she explained that with regard to alliances with countries like South Korea, U.S. security interests trumped human rights concerns. Derian said of Iran, “We have vigorously pursued our human-rights policy there at the same time that we’ve continued large military sales and maintained very close military and security cooperation.”
As many are aware, the Iran hostage crisis likely sabotaged President Carter's hopes for a second term, a golden opportunity seized by Republican challenger Ronald Reagan.
Patricia Derian herself would later slam President Reagan for his support for useful dictators, particularly in Latin America. In an article titled Some of Our Best Friends Are Authoritarians, Derian ripped into the Reagan administration, which had, she charged, “shown itself to be extremely hospitable to dictators and human-rights abusers.”
“The Reagan Administration's intentions are evident in its warm embrace of dictators and its efforts to eliminate Congressional human-rights reports and to restore and increase aid to repressive governments. Reagan is banking on his ability to keep the public's attention focused on domestic--particularly economic--matters. He is also counting on a post-Iran eagerness to turn away from foreign affairs.
Reagan has made foreign affairs relatively simple. The Soviet menace is so overwhelming and the United States is so weak that we must blindly embrace all anti-Communist governments in order to defend liberty, justice and democracy.
The message to the world is clear: the United States is not serious about human rights. Although it will continue to mouth pieties, this country will not act on behalf of human rights.” — Patt Derian in The Nation, Nov. 7, 1981
Thursday, November 21, 1978
To the Editor:
The Nixon administration captivated the public with the ingenuity of lies coming from the White House. [Watergate] Some people urged the networks to present an awards program, so that all the lies could compete in various categories. Oscars could be presented for Best Lie Printed in a Daily Paper, Most Symbolic Lie Repeated on a Talk Show, etc.
When I opened Monday’s DI, I realized that the Carter administration does not intend to cheat people out of their awards program. The nominee for Author of the Most Callous Lie Released to the Press is Patricia Derian, assistant secretary of state for human rights. Derian announced that the United States has “vigorously pursued our human rights policy” in Iran. With that statement the Carter administration makes a mockery of the one policy we all believe in.
Jimmy Carter has repeatedly announced his support for the Shah of Iran, who is responsible for some of the most atrocious human rights violations of our time. Is this the same president who captured international acclaim for his humanitarian campaign against the torture and murder of political prisoners? It looks more like Jimmy has been born again, again. I wonder if any respectable religion would claim him now.
721 N. Van Buren
ORIGINAL SIN: The 1953 Coup in Iran Clarified | by Arash Norouzi
The Shah, the President and empty phrases — Letter to The Daily Iowan, February 16, 1977
Carter ‘hopes’ shah survives — United Press International, December 8, 1978
Protestors Say Violence Shows Depth of Hatred Against Shah — UPI, November 18, 1977
MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”