Jun 26

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Jon Stewart’s Rosewater: Tyranny by any other name is just as evil, Commentary by Tony Corvo


Tyranny vs Freedom with Flag Tony Corvo

America has become politically, legally, academically, and culturally, a center-left nation. And by center-left, I’m not referring to some romantic view of liberté, égalité, and fraternité but rather what liberalism has morphed into: a Frankenstein monster that demands government encroachment into all aspects of our lives.

This headlong drive toward a government driven utopia has blinded most on the Left, and some on the Right, to the civil rights violations that come from the same centralized powerful government required to achieve the utopian dreams. The result is instead of an utopia we often create a dystopia; a community or society that is undesirable or frightening.

The entertainment industry, as the Left’s leader in pop culture, is an example where people go about their lives with eyes wide shut. And that brings me to Jon Stewart’s movie Rosewater.

In 2009, London-based Iranian Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari went to his native Iran to cover the presidential election between hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and three opponents. The leading opposition party was led by “moderate” Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

While in Iran, Bahari participated in a satirical interview for Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, which Jon Stewart hosts. This interview didn’t sit well with the hard line government and Bahari was arrested, imprisoned, and tortured for 118 days. Bahari was blindfolded much of the time and the movie’s title comes from the rosewater spray his torturer used as cologne; I assume to cover up the smells of a society that doesn’t bathe that often.

After several months in prison, Bahari’s wife started to make an international fuss about his imprisonment. The movie shows several news clips of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State mentioning the need for Iran to release Bahari, and the movie gives an impression that Clinton may have had a significant role in Bahari’s release. I don’t know if that’s true or Clinton just jumped in when she saw Bahari’s wife was making more headlines than she was.

The movie was not a financial success and may even have lost money. However, some writers believe that Stewart’s desire to make the movie grew out of guilt for whatever role the Comedy Central’s interview may have had with Bahari’s ordeal.

For the 2009 election, the Iranian government used force to win the election by intimidating, abusing, and imprisoning opposition groups. Stewart goes to great lengths to show Iran’s government as corrupt and a violator of human rights; which of course it was and is. Imprisonment, torture, and even death for being involved in political opposition are examples of what could happen under what might be called “hard” tyranny.

But where Stewart and the entertainment industry fall short is when they fail to see similar actions under “soft” tyranny. For example, the IRS targeting of selected conservative political groups when they applied for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status; especially groups with terms such as “Tea Party” in their names. During this same time, liberal leaning groups were largely processed normally.

Another example is when the IRS, wielding a banking law intended to thwart drug trafficking and money laundering, seized $107,000 belonging to small business owner Lyndon McLellan. His crime was making a number of bank deposits less than $9,000. Like thousands of other victims of civil forfeiture, the government never charged McLellan with a crime. Although the IRS has finally agreed to return McLellan the full amount after the story became public, he has lost thousands of dollars and has had his life turned upside down.

No physical torture was involved in these IRS scandals. But when agencies like the IRS are used to destroy people’s financial or personal lives for nothing more than their political beliefs or based on ill-defined laws without due process, we no longer have a free society; we’ve become Iran without the beatings.

In addition to the IRS, agencies like the Department of Education, the EPA, and many others, are darlings of the Left. When any attempt is made to make these agencies accountable, it’s the Left that goes on the defensive and offensive. In Stewart’s case, being a comic, he often pokes fun at the Tea Party and other groups on the Right, and is generally in agreement with the Left when it dismisses claims of abuse by government agencies as right-wing paranoia.

To be fair, Stewart does skewer some government agencies (and Liberal politicians) for acting indefensible. But he fails to take it to the next level and see abuse as part of the nature and fabric of the agency as opposed to an anomaly that can be repaired.

Although the Left spearheads the move to increase government, once an agency or program is in place, many politicians on the Right enjoy the increased power the new agency or program provides them. Statism is thus independent of Left and Right. The real battle is between Tyranny and Freedom.


Note: This article expresses the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the view of the Dayton TEA Party or the Greene County TEA Party.

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