Move over Rudolph and Ralphie, the BBC’s Channel 4 has a new face to grace the airwaves on Christmas Day: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. It takes mammoth cluelessness to think that a Holocaust-questioning leader of a Muslim nuke-seeking nation is a good choice to deliver a Christmas message of supposed hope and humanity, even providing the channel has broadcast somewhat controversial views in the recent past as a counterpoint to the Queen’s Christmas message.
Within the canned niceties of Ahmadinejad’s “homily” is contained this little passage:
“If Christ was on Earth today undoubtedly he would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers … If Christ was on Earth today undoubtedly he would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over. If Christ was on Earth today undoubtedly he would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as He did in His lifetime.”
Indeed, if Christ were alive today he would probably be championing Iran’s right to have nuclear arms, right, Mahmoud? Probably would be attending the WTO protests, reading Karl Marx and holding up a “Death to America” sign, right, Mahmoud? Ahmadinejad’s presumptions of the intentions of Christ would be laughable had they not been given such a prime stage on one of Britain’s major networks.
Channel 4 has been excoriated for this move, and the channel’s head of news and current affairs, Dorothy Byrne, offered up a pathetic excuse:
“As the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East, President Ahmadinejad’s views are enormously influential … As we approach a critical time in international relations, we are offering our viewers an insight into an alternative world view.”
Henry Grunwald, president of the Board of Deputies, offered a better analysis of this supposed “alternative world view”:
“The appearance on our television screens of a man whose prejudices are so well-documented and who has openly called for the eradication of another member country of the United Nations is an affront to decency. To invite him to deliver a Christmas message, even a so-called alternative one, fills me with disgust. Whatever he may say in his ‘message’, his words on other occasions and his actions towards minority groups in Iran should have disqualified him from filling this television spot.”
Ahmadinejad has no place on any Western network to be given an open mic, let alone on Christmas Day. I’m sure Channel 4 thought they were being clever and edgy in their selection of Ahmadinejad, and hoped to score some shock ratings with this stunt. All they have done, however, is give a despot an undeserved megaphone to spew more propaganda and draw more attention away from the true meaning and significance of Christmas.