Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal suffered terrible indignities during two years of imprisonment in an Iranian jail. But they are relieved now – as they have dutifully paid their karmic debt for the sin of being American. That’s why, when they were recently released from the Mullahs’ jaws and appeared at a press conference in the U.S. upon their return, they expressed their heartfelt gratitude to their Islamist tormentors by blaming America first. Indeed, the country that won their freedom and now gives them sanctuary is, as before, the target of their leftist wrath.
One can’t help but wonder: What exactly were Bauer, Fattal and Sarah Shourd (released a year earlier) doing hiking on the border of an Islamist genocidal tyranny that declared war on their country 32 years ago – and that today murders Americans with relish in Iraq and Afghanistan? They couldn’t find solace in hiking in Colorado? Why is it that every other American I know has never “mistakenly” stumbled into Iranian territory?
Well, the answer is quite simple: Bauer, Fattal and Shourd are the fellow travelers of our time – and protecting their own personal safety on their political pilgrimage was, consequently, the last thing they were hoping for. They were, in fact, lusting for the very opposite – as all fellow travelers do.
This particular episode of fellow traveling had all the usual toxic ingredients; it unfolded according to the expected script. Like thousands of leftists before them, the three progressive pilgrims, in their rejection of their own society, journeyed to an enemy death camp where they could prostrate themselves before their totalitarian secular deity. As I have documented in “United in Hate,” the political pilgrims’ yearning to worship at the feet of the despotic adversary is almost always accompanied by the yearning to sacrifice one’s life on the altar of their utopian ideals.
So why, exactly, did our hikers endure their hardships in an Iranian prison? Well, as Bauer and Fattal patiently explained in their press conference, it happened because the conditions in places like Guantanamo Bay and in other prisons in the U.S. are also inhumane. This is what the Iranian guards imparted to our pilgrims when they inquired why they were being so badly treated. And so now Bauer, Fattal and Shourd understand and are delivering the breaking news to us. It’s all America’s fault, you see. U.S. policies toward Iran, they tell us, have caused the hostility between the two nations. And the three pilgrims still showed their compassion, of course, by expressing their hope that political prisoners and other unjustly imprisoned people in Iran and America would also soon be released.
Our hikers haven’t missed a beat from the political pilgrims’ script: In February 1949, American fellow traveler Anna Louise Strong, who had come to worship Joseph Stalin, was arrested by the dictator’s henchmen. Jailed for a few days in the infamous Lubyanka Prison, she was branded an American spy and expelled from the Soviet Union. She wrote about her arrest, but made sure to blame everyone and everything but Stalin. The West’s anti-communism, she insisted, had induced paranoia in the minds of Soviet bureaucrats. When the Soviets admitted in 1955 that they were wrong to have accused her of being a spy, she rushed back to renew her worship of her secular god.
One still wonders why it didn’t occur to our three hikers that the people in Guantanamo Bay are terrorists and that the people in U.S. prisons are criminals – while they (our “victims”) never actually did anything wrong. But then, simple thoughts like this could lead to a realization that there are real evil regimes in the world and that the society in which our hikers live is actually one of the best and most humane in the world. Realizations like this could put a big damper on political pilgrimages – so best to avoid them altogether.
At this juncture, one also can’t help from reflecting on the female leftist “peace” activists who are routinely raped, brutalized and enslaved by the Arabs of Judea and Samaria who they visit to aid and glorify in their Jew-hating odyssey against Israel. Where are the complaints and charges levied by these victims? Where are their defenders? Will it be Sarah Shourd, in the end, who will be alone in finding the decency to speak out on their behalf – since “feminists” like Naomi Wolf are too busy defending the sexiness of the burqa? No, Shourd won’t. Guaranteed, she will go the path of Anna Louise Strong and the Stalinist German writer Bertolt Brecht, two typical political pilgrims who were completely undisturbed by the arrests and deaths of their friends in the Stalinist purges and never even inquired about them after their disappearance.
There are no big surprises in this pathetic story. Our three hikers were deeply engulfed in their romance with the despotic enemy. They hated Israel and were strongly pro-jihad. Bauer had worked his unholy alliance membership to peak perfection by having worked for both Al-Jazeera and the Nation magazine. Before his hiking expedition, he chose to live, for several years, together with Shourd, in Syria. Both leftists heaped praise on the repressive country in their journalistic writings while – surprise, surprise – demonizing Israel. And so, the target of our protagonists’ verbalized heart-felt appreciation, that was given after they denounced their own country, was also to be fully expected. It went to an all-star cast: Hugo Chavez, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Cindy Sheehan, Noam Chomsky and Sean Penn.
Bauer, Fattal and Shourd are the new generation of political pilgrims in our jihadi era. We know well the fate of the believers who journeyed to Russia after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution to help build communism, just as we know the fate of the leftist Iranians who returned to their country after the 1979 Iranian Revolution to aid Khomeini in building the Islamic paradise. And we know all too well what those believers were searching for in their odyssey to sterilize the unclean earth and to shed themselves of their own unwanted selves. They met their desired fate.
And so, in this new chapter of the three hikers who journeyed – with Stockholm Syndrome in hand – to blur their own individualities into the Iranian totalitarian monolith, the well-worn script played itself out. True, the endgame that Vittorio Arrigoni, Juliano Mer-Khamis and Rachel Corrie had successfully authored for themselves was not achieved by our three protagonists, but the final scene of this play is still to be written. Indeed, the jihadi killing machines of our time will not depart from the stage all too soon; their chambers of death still hungrily await the visitation of their myriad admirers. And, make no mistake, the inspiration may still linger in the political imagination of our three hikers to embark on yet further romantic hiking journeys, in rejection of the societies that give them freedom and life – and into the utopian dreams that spawn the merciless heart of totalitarian darkness.
Jamie Glazov is editor of Frontpagemag.com and author of “United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror.”