This story in today’s New York Times caught my attention: Mistaken as an Iranian Martyr, Then Hounded.
Iranian intelligence officials, Ms. Soltani said, pressured her to come forward publicly to show that she was alive and denounce the shooting as faked, and threatened her when she did not comply.
The Iranian secret police seem oddly inept in some of their propaganda efforts. There was that obviously photoshopped image of the rockets being test fired, for example, where you could clearly see where the billowing smoke clouds had been cloned to make it look like there were more rockets than there actually were. Or this story, in which they took an unrelated English-literature teacher and, after Western media sources mistakenly identified her as the woman shot and killed in that heart-breaking YouTube video, pressured her to participate in their weird propaganda effort to undercut the video’s impact.
These days Neda (the Neda who was not shot and killed), with the help of Amnesty International, has fled to Germany, where she has been granted political asylum. But she’s “haunted”, says the NYT:
“Both sides have destroyed my life, the Western media and the Iranian intelligence,” said Ms. Soltani, staring out the window of her apartment. “But I still have the hope that at least the media will realize what they have done.”
So: lessons for today:
1. Crappy journalism, even in the days of the Web when no one really expects journalists to have professional standards, has a price, and it’s paid by people like Zahra “Neda” Soltani.
2. The Iranian intelligence service are the Keystone Kops of government propaganda. But maybe they don’t care. Maybe, like the people pushing global warming denialism, it doesn’t matter if their shtick is ludicrous and transparent to anyone with an active bullshit detector. Because people with active bullshit detectors are not their intended audience. They’re looking for the low-hanging fruit: people who want to believe what they’re pushing, and won’t bother checking the facts.