~ Which will win out in the end? ~
Human Rights vs. Expediency
After Shah’s Visit, Humorist Deciphered the US Paradox
On November 15, 1977, President Carter and the First Lady paid tribute to the visiting Shah of Iran and his Queen in a grand state ceremony staged on the White House lawn. Yet amid all the pomp and circumstance were unavoidable indignities for the royal couple. As thousands of protestors shouted, brawled and eventually broke through police barriers, the humiliating sting of tear gas hit the “stable and progressive” ruler right in his eye like a big pizza pie.
The Shah’s high profile visit, along with the acoustical dissonance which accompanied him, refocused attention on both the human rights crisis in Iran and the key U.S. role in holding up his freewheeling dictatorship. Indeed, the whole premise behind the U.S.-Iran relationship was becoming so farcical, that one of the cleverest ways to unravel it all was through humor.
Armed with a crisp, wry wit, one American commentator broke down the whole preposterous scene by putting it in context with domestic and foreign policy trends.
Henry Gay (1926-1999) was an award-winning community newspaper editor & publisher as well as an outspoken columnist. An icon in the Washington state journalism field, his biting satire could be seen in his column, “The Gay Blade”, distributed regionally. Right after he retired at age 72, Gay passed away due to cancer. In recognition of his distinguished career of over a half century, a scholarship in his and news colleague Bruce Wilson’s name was established in 2012. Another close colleague eulogized him this way:
Henry’s editorials were the finest examples of clear, concise writing. He was a master of the language, of “communication.” His messages were dynamic, disturbing, challenging; always irritatingly thoughtful and direct.
Henry would not, could not compromise his principles. He lost and won advertisers because of his ethical balances. He won and lost readers as a result of his satirical pen.
But for our lifetime practicing this profession, Henry has been a friend, a mentor, a partner. None of us can carry his ethical burden more consistently, more righteously or with more passion.
Newspaper publisher Frank Garred in The Port Townshend-Jefferson County Leader, Jan. 1999
Here’s a lost gem that George Orwell himself would probably chuckle at, seemingly dated yet strangely pertinent to our life and times, resurrected and preserved for our children and grandchildren to behold. See how many details you can spot that could also apply to the present (how about the U.S. government spying on its own citizens, my, how some things haven’t changed).
Only time will tell whether the various absurdities exposed here will still be as relevant to succeeding generations, but it’s a good bet they’ll still get the joke.
The Enterprise — Wednesday, December 28, 1977
The Gay Blade
As the world turns
by HENRY GAY
If Jimmy Carter is such a champion of human rights around the world, why did he roll out the red carpet for the Shah of Iran, who is notorious for his torture of political prisoners?
There’s a simple answer, son. Jimmy Carter knows that military rights come before human rights. The Shah of Iran is our ally in a troubled world.
You mean all that talk about human rights was directed only to our enemies?
It’s not that simple. When you are older you will realize that our nation has enemies and friends and if we criticize our friends we will lose our precious form of government and be no better than our enemies.
You mean in order to preserve our right to talk about human rights it is necessary for us to ignore them when it suits us?
Not the right to talk about human rights, son; the right to enjoy human rights. Our enemies do terrible things to their citizens.
What things, daddy?
Well, they spy on their own people. They keep dossiers on private citizens and harass and file trumped-up charges against those who criticize the government.
You mean like the CIA and the FBI do in this country?
There’s a big difference, son. We have a democracy, which entitles each citizen to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Some citizens are not content with that and continually raise hell about matters that do not concern them, such as the military and the work of our intelligence agencies. Then there are the minorities who want equality now instead of working for it the way the rest of us did. They’re dangerous and the CIA and the FBI work to protect us from them. The dissidents in communist countries, on the other hand, really have something to complain about.
I see. There are good secret police and bad secret police and, luckily, we have good secret police. What else do our enemies do, daddy?
They suppress minority parties. [Iran under the Shah formed a one-party system]
You mean the way we do with the new election laws that give money to the two major parties, while the FBI infiltrates and disrupts minority parties.
They conduct experiments on prisoners.
The same way our U.S. Health Service, the CIA and the Army do.
They spend huge sums on the military and sell weapons to unstable countries around the world.
They must be getting their direction from Washington.
They interfere in the internal affairs of other nations, overthrow governments and assassinate leaders.
That’s enough, daddy. I’m beginning to get the idea.
It’s about time. You’re stubborn, son, but you come from good stock. I knew you’d see the light.
Let’s see if I understand this correctly. In order to preserve our democracy where every citizen is assured certain basic rights, it’s necessary to spy on our citizens, harass, persecute and destroy minority parties, preserve racism, conduct unspeakable experiments on prisoners and the general public, stockpile enough weapons to fight 100 world wars, provide the tools of murder to anyone who can pay the price, overthrow foreign governments and assassinate leaders who don’t agree with us.
You didn’t listen to a word I said, son.
Yes, I did, daddy. I heard it all and I’ve reached some conclusions. In order to protect human rights, we must violate them. In order to remain decent, we must become indecent. In order to assure peace, we must provoke war. In order to remain distinct from our enemies, we must imitate them. In order to save the world, we must destroy it.
Forget it, son. That’s enough heavy thinking for now. Let’s pursue a little happiness by watching a football game.
Might as well; our enemies are probably all at the soccer matches.
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