Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Iran Releases British Sailors--Why All the Smiles?

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Well, it appears that the 15 British sailors captured or kidnapped by Iran have been released. This is, of course, good news. But why, I wonder, were the British sailors waving and smiling so happily at their public relations meeting with Iranian President Ahmadinejad?

What possibly could have been threatened to compel this happy behavior? Even the NY Times article that described the "ceremony" (and provided these two photos of the event) noted that,
Iranian state television showed Mr. Ahmadinejad smiling and shaking the hands of some of the captives. Dressed in clothes apparently issued by their captors, the Britons waited in line to meet the president, looking almost as if they were a visiting sports team. “We are grateful for your forgiveness,” one said to Mr. Ahmadinejad, seemingly off the cuff.
I could not help but notice that at least three of the British sailors in the photo at the top of this post (the ones on the right) were not smiling. Indeed, these three looked as though they would have rather faced down a firing squad than be caught smiling at a farcical and humiliating moment like this.

Even so, I can only wonder where were the expressions of defiance? Where was there any sign of uncooperation with their captors? Where was there any refusal to wear civilian clothing instead of their uniforms which were both their right and privilege to wear?

I can only contrast this smiling group of seeming happy Brits with these more sober photographs of the crew of the USS Pueblo, after they had been captured by North Korea back in 1968.

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These men signalled their resistance and displeasure . . . and suffered greatly for it in return. Surely, at the very least, the British sailors could have politely refused to eat in front of a camera or to wear the hijab. Why didn't they? Perhaps we'll know soon enough. But, instead of becoming icons of the famous British aplomb they have become icons instead of the suicidal impulse to act as though all it takes to get along in this world is to, "Smile, darn ya, smile!"

In this last photo it is clear that Ahmadinejad is smiling. He is happy. He has scored another hollow victory for a morally bankrupt regime held together by spiritual and mortal terror.

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While it may not have been prudent to have done so, it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if this British sailor had chosen to spit on the ground in front of Ahmadinejad instead of shaking his hand.