MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews on Wednesday compared Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani's death to the deaths of American rock legend Elvis Presley and the United Kingdom's Princess Diana. Presley died in 1977 following a fatal heart attack. Princess Diana was killed in 1997 following a fatal car accident in Paris.
The U.S. conducted an airstrike on Soleimani's convoy last week, killing the Iranian general who was responsible for carrying out acts of terror on both local and global levels. Soleimani led the nation's Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.
What did Matthews say?
During a discussion with Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Matthews said, "When some people die, you don't know what the impact is going to be."
"When Princess Diana died, for example, there was a huge emotional outpouring," he reasoned. "Elvis Presley in our culture. It turns out that this general we killed was a beloved hero of the Iranian people to the point where — look at the people, we got pictures up now — these enormous crowds coming out."
"There's no American emotion in this case," Matthews continued, "but there's a hell of a lot of emotion on the other side."
Matthews later asked Castro whether he believed U.S. leaders should be aware of what they're doing when they take out such public figures.
Castro responded by saying that the U.S. could have anticipated such a reaction from Iranians.
"They very much could have anticipated that Iranians would react in this way, both the Iranian public but also that the government would strike back," Castro reasoned. "This speaks to a much larger issue, Chris, which is the president has had a very chaotic and erratic foreign policy, especially with respect to Iran."
Is the Iranian mourning authentic?
The Washington Post and NBC News have both reported that the Iranian mourning of Soleimani was not necessarily authentic, and that Soleimani himself was not nearly as popular or beloved as Matthews apparently made him out to be.
According to a Post opinion article by Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, "Don't take what you're seeing at face value" when it comes to the mass mourning.
Warning against Iranian propaganda, Alinejad wrote, "[W]hat to make of the crowds of flag-waving mourners streaming across TV screens?"
"Without doubt, Soleimani had support among hard-liners and regime loyalists," Alinejad added. "The regime is not taking any chances, though. In the city of Ahvaz, where large numbers of people turned out to mourn Soleimani, the government has forced students and officials to attend. It provided free transport and ordered shops to shut down."
It only got worse, according to Alinejad.
"According to videos sent to me by people inside the country, the authorities are making little kids write essays praising the fallen commander," she said. "First-graders who didn't know how to write were encouraged to cry for Soleimani."
"The media in the Islamic Republic is heavily controlled," she insisted. "Public gatherings are allowed only if they are pro-regime. Critics are jailed or shot. ... So it's not hard to use all the tools and resources of the state to stage a funeral procession."
Is the U.S. media falling for Iran's 'propaganda'?
Iranian author Parnaz Foroutan wrote that Iran's "propaganda" implies that the nation is mourning Soleimani's death — which couldn't be further from the truth.
Foroutan warned that the U.S. media is falling for the ruse and running with the resulting stories.
"The Western media fail to discern between public displays of ideology sanctioned by the regime and quickly silenced opinions of those who dissent," she wrote.
"I listened to The New York Times say that 'Iran is in mourning' after [Soleimani's] death," she said. "Headlines repeated the word mourning and showed crowds in the streets of Iran weeping and holding signs that promised revenge for the death of a beloved hero. The news has repeatedly referred to Soleimani as revered by the Iranian people."
Foroutan said that the U.S. media has widely ignored how "students are forced to participate" and that "public transportation in Iran has been at a standstill."
"[F]amily members in Iran tell me, since all available buses are being used to round up scattered supporters throughout the country to fill the frame of the lens," she added.
Fouroutan noted that the media — both locally and internationally — has made a big deal of tearful Iranians publicly mourning Soleimani's death — but have ignored what the Iranian motivation may be.
"The international press has reported on those who have made public statements in Iran, their tear-filled condolences for the death of this revered hero, but virtually no one in the press has mentioned that some might be forced to do so in order to protect their livelihood," she warned. "Because the state controls everything in Iran."
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(H/T: The Washington Free Beacon)