Other than this one uncomfortable moment, Gingrich’s visit seemed to go well. He did, however, open his speech by citing the 1979 Tehran hostage crisis, in which Iran held American embassy officials hostage for over a year, as the first strike against the U.S. and as proof of the “intolerable” and “anti-human rights” nature of the regime. “We will never have peace and we will never have justice in the region as long as that dictatorship survives,” he concluded. What he didn’t seem to know is that his host, the MEK, had supported and participated in holding the Americans hostage, which is part of how they got the terrorist designation that Gingrich would like to see removed.
It’s possible that Gingrich didn’t know this, but the old appeal to ignorance has ceased to be credible when it comes to this group. To find that defense credible, we would have to believe that all the prominent former officials, politicians and retired military officers, some of whom sought a major party presidential nomination in the very recent past, are completely in the dark about the history of this group. That would mean that they are putting their public reputations at stake to speak in support of a group whose background and conduct are largely unknown to them.
This is the same group whose supporters are paying them thousands and tens of thousands of dollars to speak as part of a massive lobbying effort to remove the group from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list. It might occur to at least a few of them to do some basic research into what the group did in the past that led to its inclusion on this list, as well as trying to find out why the group hates the Iranian regime as much as it does. If they were trying to understand the group’s goals, these people might notice that the MEK became bitter enemies of the current regime only after they were purged by Khomeini.
There are few things quite so disgraceful in contemporary American politics as the effort to rehabilitate a cult-like terrorist group as a “democratic” opposition movement, so it’s fitting that someone as shameless as Gingrich has joined in pro-MEK advocacy. As a former Speaker of the House, he may be the most high-profile ex-politician yet to provide public backing to the group.
P.S. If you listen to Gingrich’s speech, you may have difficulty not becoming sick when Gingrich invokes Washington’s crossing of the Delaware to encourage the pro-MEK crowd.