Their Anti-Americanism Would Protect Them

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal

Freed hiker Shane Bauer, on his return to America from an Iranian prison, uttered a statement of spectacular fatuity:

The irony is Sarah [Shourd] Josh [Fattal] and I oppose U.S. policies towards Iran which perpetuate this hostility.

Bauer’s credentials as a “Peace and Conflict Studies” major at Berkeley obviously did not prepare him for the harsh treatment he got from his Iranian jailers.

He seems to have believed that his anti-Americanism would protect him which is certainly why he and his fellow hikers believed, as San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders writes, that “an unmarried 31-year-old woman … traveling with her 27-year-old boyfriend throughout the Arabian Peninsula, among people who would not tolerate the same behavior from their own” would not be a problem.

After all, they must have thought, we are not your typical arrogant Americans; we are ascetic young intellectuals who seek only to “reach out” to the Islamic world, to heal the wounds America has inflicted on Muslims. They had a lot of faith in their own virtue, meaning opposition to the Iraq War and Israel, and in how much any of that would mean to their Iranian captors. Did they understand that they weren’t in Berkeley anymore?

The hikers must have thought they were dealing with fellow intellectuals, intellectuals with a cause, who cared about “world opinion” and would never jeapordize the support of their international supporters by kidnapping and imprisoning them.

Maybe they don’t teach anything about the Iranian Hostage Crisis in the Peace and Crisis Studies Department. They must not have known that previous to the 1979 storming of the American Embassy in Tehran, hostage-taking was seen as an outrage violating a centuries-old principle of international law granting diplomats immunity from arrest and diplomatic compounds sovereignty in their embassies. They must not have known that such an act could be construed under international law as an act of war justifying a military response. They must not have known that the Iranians had shown over decades that they didn’t care about no stinkin’ international law and that “the world’s” concern over their plight didn’t amount to a hill of beans in Tehran.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear, from their statements, that Shourd, Bauer and Fattal have learned much from their time in Iran, at least not yet. Maybe it’s another case of Stockholm Syndrome where the captives come to indentify with their captors. Perhaps with time, they will realize that what they had in Iran was a rendezvous with evil and come to understand its true nature. If it comes, I suspect it will make Shane Bauer question all that he was “taught” in his Peace and Crisis Studies courses.

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