Commentary | Don’t use inaccurate comparisons

A response to Haaris Khan’s “Western lies and iranuendo”

A rejoinder to Harris Khan’s myopic vision of the world is desperately in order. Khan, in his unfounded tirade against the West, has emerged as a mouthpiece on campus for dictatorships and repression par excellence. His vehement hatred of Canada, the United States, Australia, and the EU (nations that are not without their flaws) speaks to Khan’s skewed worldview. Not only does he not cite an iota of factual evidence, but his tone seems to echo that of the propaganda of Ahmadinejad and Gaddafi’s anti-Western diatribes. According to Khan, Ahmadinejad becomes an audacious truth-seeker (never mind the stoning of women and the relentless repression of peaceful protesters in 2009 in Iran), while the West – which he really has a problem deconstructing and enjoys treating as a monolithic bloc – serves to perpetuate injustices. Khan turns reality completely on its head in this article.

His article is replete with vague and meaningless arguments. What exactly does Khan mean when he says the “current global power structure is deeply and unmistakably unjust”? Whether he likes it or not, the history of humanity is a history of balances of power, thus there will always be power disparities. Does he mean distribution of military capabilities? Size of economies? The disproportionate power of the security council in the UN? In such a nebulous attack, people like Khan (and Ahmadinejad) are anti-everything, failing to propose any meaningful alternatives.

“Ahmadinejad did, in fact, address his own people’s aspirations for freedom and dignity,” The piece stated. Khan is spewing Ahmadinejad’s propaganda that even Iranian regime supporters would not subscribe to. How Khan justifies Ahmadinejad’s heinous human rights abuses as a part of Iranians’ “aspirations for freedom and dignity” is perplexing to say the least.

Khan finally describes the legacy (quoting Ahmadinejad) of the Western world as including slavery, colonialism, mass murder, environmental degradation, and crony capitalism. He forgets to mention that the Persians, as well as other countries in the developing world, were some of the most brutal colonizers in history. Slavery was also commonplace in many countries Khan purports to defend. And as for “crony capitalism”, there has been much less of it in the Western world than in Ben Ali’s in-laws’ circle or in Mubarak’s clientelist networks, to cite two examples. As for the claim that “Western governments are just as oppressive as those they condemn” – I suggest taking a look at Human Rights Watch records, Amnesty International, and Freedom House ratings. It becomes indisputable that, although Western countries (whatever he means by the “West” – does it include Norway’s unparalleled generous donations to developing countries and to Palestinians?) have committed their share of oppression, non-Western nations lag very far behind in terms of respect for human rights.

Jaïs Mehaji is a U3 Honours Political Science student. He can be reached at