Commentary | The Daily’s silence on Iran

The Daily’s Statement of Principles says: “We recognize that at present power is unevenly distributed, especially (but not solely) on the basis of gender, age, social class, race, sexuality, religion, disability, and cultural identity. We also recognize that keeping silent about this situation helps to perpetuate inequality.”

Queer, is it not, how The McGill Daily – supposed defender of the disenfranchised since 1911 – has so far neglected to mention the recent popular uprising in the Islamic Republic of Iran? Not a word. Queerer still, wouldn’t you agree, how freely space is donated to anyone willing to ooze a few words regarding Gaza, anarchist soccer, or anything transgender-related?
I have no interest in recounting for the reader what’s happened these past eight months in the Iranian streets. In the admittedly unlikely event that your news diet consists solely of twice-weekly Daily consumption – in which case I would recommend either a doctor or the immediate stimulation of your gag reflex – you should do a little research.

If I may say so, I just raised a very interesting point. If I left it at that, a little joke about your news diet and how if you read The Daily you have no idea what’s going on in the world, I can imagine the letter published after reading week: “Nobody only reads The Daily. Kreitner neglected to quote from section 2.1 of the Statement of Principles: ‘The fundamental goal of The McGill Daily shall be to serve as a critical and constructive forum for the exchange of ideas and information about McGill University and related communities.’ Why would a Canadian student newspaper write about some civilians being killed at the hands of a government halfway around the world?”

I mention this predictable objection here, rather than wait for the inevitable letter, only to save this hapless hypothetical correspondent the unnecessary effort and embarrassment. My response begs itself: last Monday’s cover article was titled “The crippling of Gaza’s health care.” The article inside, an interview with a doctor who was in Gaza during the conflict last January and recently spoke at McGill (“Emergency in Gaza,” News, February 7), doesn’t mention McGill or Canada, and Montreal only in passing to represent a place with better water quality than Gaza. Its 1,500-plus words included this gem directed at Israel, with which the interviewer cleverly chose to conclude her article: “You have to come to the negotiation table, we have to find a solution, you can not kill all these civilians – period.” It’s that simple.

Point being, of course, that The Daily has no interest in limiting itself to “ideas and information about McGill University and related communities.” Anything that fits the agreed-upon narrative is more than welcome in its pages.

Take Afghanistan. Its August elections were patently fraudulent – an observation The Daily devoted a 600-word editorial to confirming. That particular post-election mayhem fit the narrative. Characteristic Western diplomatic obfuscation? Check. Military plans gone awry? Check. Rather weak but sufficiently plausible insinuation that Afghanistan is no better with a flawed, struggling democracy than it was a decade ago under the dominion of a sadistic crime syndicate? Check!
But Iran? The Iranian elections, after which dozens of people died, after which thousands upon thousands took to the streets pleading for democracy, after which this writer couldn’t look at videos of those protests without being affected on a fundamental, emotional, human level?
Iran was Bush’s next target. Iran isn’t a bad place. That’s what the military-Zionist-industrial complex wants you to think! Anyone desiring the “exportation” of supposedly Western institutions to other nations – neo-cons, all! White Man’s Burden! Imperialists, Islamophobes!
So when the Iranian people exhibited to their leaders and to the world their willingness to die in the name of democracy, of course The Daily wasn’t going to find an Iranian professor to interview, wasn’t going to write an editorial decrying the unfairness of elections halfway around the world. Young Muslims clamouring for democracy don’t fit the narrative. Iranians wanting regime change don’t fit the narrative. The West having something non-Westerners want doesn’t fit the narrative.

Again and again, The Daily proves itself far more interesting for those notes it doesn’t play than for those it actually does.


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