Sunday, April 13, 2014

United States of Fear

The United States has denied a visa to Iran's newly-chosen ambassador to the United Nations.  The ambassador, Hamid Aboutalebi, participated in the occupation of the US embassy in Tehran after the takeover in November 1979 and is, therefore, so persona non grata that the United States will violate its obligation as the host nation for the UN to allow access for nations' ambassadors and other representatives.

How dare those cheeky Iranians taunt Americans by choosing a person who is forever with such a grievous insult to our national pride!  Why the very idea threatens the foundations of the Republic. Or so it would seem from the American brouhaha about the new ambassador

From the Iranian side it looks different.  Ambassador Aboutalebi took part in an important national event; the embassy occupation was part of the Islamic Revolution which looms as large in Iran's history as the American Revolution does in ours.  Whatever other nations' doubts may be about the results of Iran's revolution, the Iranian government has every reason to hold its participants in high regard.  If one of those persons has skills that may serve the nation, why would the government not appoint that person to a responsible position?  If the position happens to require a visa to attend the United Nations, the US should honor its obligation to provide that visa.  I mean, it's not like Ambassador Aboutalebi was a leader of either the embassy takeover or the Islamic Revolution. 

The United States would do well to remember its own history in this matter.  The first American ambassador to Great Britain was John Adams, a man who had without a doubt participated in the American Revolution.  Despite the all-too-recent open warfare between the two nations, Adams was received by the Court of St James.  They did not refuse his commission.

21st century America should be so open.

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