Defining "Death to America"

By Hal Lindsey
With public approval of the Iranian nuclear deal withering, its supporters seem to be feeling desperate.  In an article this week on “GlobalPost,” writer Reese Erlich tells us that, from the Iranian point of view, “‘Death to America’ doesn’t mean what you think.”
That article wouldn’t be too significant except that USA Today decided to prominently repost it as a major story on their site.  It was not labeled as an opinion piece and, from the context, you would think it’s straight news.  But it’s actually a highly opinionated article from an extremely opinionated man.
In March, the same author wrote something titled, “Want to Find Terrorists?  Check Out Your Church.”  He casts Christians as the real terrorists because of violence he wrongly attributes to Christians.  It’s a common argument, but a huge stretch.  Like Mr. Erlich, those who espouse it usually start with Timothy McVeigh.  It’s true that McVeigh attended church some as a child, but by the time of the Oklahoma City bombing, he had long abandoned any pretext of Christianity.  
After McVeigh, people making this claim list a few other lone wolf type terrorists.  Connecting them to Christianity can be as tenuous as the fact that a person grew up in a “Christian” nation.  But even the wildest accusers of the Gospel can’t point to a Christian group equivalent to ISIS or Hamas.
If you want to see the contrast between Christianity and Islam, look at Jesus and Mohammed.  Islam’s founder was a violent man.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” [Matthew 5:44 KJV]
The difference could not be more stark, but the writer of this article fails to see it.
USA Today took Erlich’s ideas seriously enough to run the story.  So, what does he have to back up his claim that when Iranians chant “Death to America” they don’t really mean “Death to America”?  Erlich quotes Assistant Professor Foad Izadi of the University of Tehran.  Izadi said that the slogan “means death to American foreign policy.”
And that’s it.  In the rest of the article, Erlich never bothers to give any more evidence — just one quote from one academic.  That’s supposed to make us believe that “Death to America” doesn’t really mean what the words so clearly say.
Imagine it’s Friday in Tehran, and you go up to one of the thousands of Iranians who has just been chanting “Death to America.”  You ask him what the phrase means.  Does anyone think he would answer, “It means ‘death to American foreign policy”’?
That doesn’t pass the laugh test.
Iranian hatred for America is one of the most obvious things in the world, especially among the leaders.  Erlich says that Iranians are really quite fond of Americans.  Some probably are, but not the ones leading chants; not the ones whose opinions will change the course of history.  Their disdain is so complete that they actually demanded that no American serve on the inspection teams.  (And, of course, the U.S. agreed to it.  Now the Associated Press reports the Iranians themselves will only inspect that one site.)
The Ayatollah said in July that the “Death to America” movement is a “great movement.”  Does anyone think he was referring only to American foreign policy?  Even Secretary of State John Kerry took it seriously.  “I don’t know how to interpret it at this point in time,” Kerry said, “except to take it at face value.”
In an interesting twist of human nature, appeasers almost always wind up being despised by those they appease.  The appeaser wants to be liked, but winds up being seen as weak and insignificant.  The commander of Iran’s Basij Force, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, said last month, “Any Iranian who reads the Vienna documents will hate the U.S. 100 times more.”
In July, the Ayatollah Khamenei said in his weekly sermon, “I detest Americans.  Deal or no deal, ‘death to America’ is our motto.”
Does any thinking person have any doubt — even at USA Today?
And then there is Israel.  It’s no accident that Erlich’s news story/editorial never once mentions Israel.  Iran just released a video that uses special effects to help them envision the takeover of Jerusalem.  This week the ayatollah tweeted, “We support resistance in Palestine and the region, and take all possible means to support anyone who fights Israel, is against the Zionist regime and supports resistance.”
Last year, the media heralded the beginning of a new era when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted a Rosh Hashanah greeting to the Jewish people.  But it was not to be.  On Wednesday, Rouhani said, “Today, this festering Zionist tumor has opened once again and has turned the land of olives into destruction and blood.”
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq, said, “The Iranian government counts on the fact that the American media will act as useful idiots.  Some self-censor for access, others simply believe what they read in English — for example Rouhani’s Rosh Hashanah tweet — and ignore completely what the Iranian leadership says in Persian. …  The fact of the matter is that Rouhani is part and parcel of the system, and embraces Khamenei’s ideology hook, line, and sinker.”
The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the now deceased cleric who instigated the Iranian revolution, solidified his political strength by blaming all ills on the United States.  Because he was both a political and religious leader, “Death to America” became more than a slogan.  It became a tenet of faith.
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