If you want to bash Iran...

...consider holding your breath, and counting to 10 first. Certainly there is plenty to criticize about the Iranian regime's behavior, but that does not mean we should believe everything we read or hear without checking the facts, especially if we are going to spread the news.

Case and point: 2 days ago, news began to break that Iran would require non-Muslim religious minorities to wear color-coded insignia to identify them.

"Iran's parliament passed a new law this week that would force the country's Jews, Christians and other religious minorities to wear color-coded ID badges.

Iranian expatriates confirmed reports the Iranian parliament, or Majlis, has approved a law that would require non-Muslims to adhere to a dress code which mandates they wear 'standard Islamic garments,' according to Canada's National Post.

The roughly 25,000 Jews living in the Islamic Republic would have to attach a yellow strip of cloth to their clothing, Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would wear blue ones." (UPI)
I immediately thought this story smelled a bit funny when I read it. First of all, here is a tip: whenever you are reading a story about the Middle East and see the words, "...expatriates confirmed reports", you should instantly get suspicious.

So I contacted a colleague of mine, a political consultant working in Tehran (who shall remain anonymous), and here is what he had to say:

"The thing about the badges is essentially complete nonsense and fully fabricated...there is a bill in the Iranian Parliament to outline 'national/Islamic dress', which means that 'decadent Western influences' are to be eliminated. But this bill and many similar to it have bounced in and out of the Majlis (parliament) for the past three years without anything coming of them.

Even so, it has nothing to do with marking out religious minorities or even forcing people to wear the national dress but is merely a desperate attempt to stop what this regime considers a cultural slide."
A Jewish member of the Iranian Parliament, Maurice Motammed, added:
"This report is a complete fabrication and is totally false. It is a lie, and the people who invented it wanted to make political gain...This is an insult to the Iranian people and to religious minorities in Iran."
So how did Washington respond?

Well, to their credit, the Bush Administration, never loathe to take a whack at Iran, "held its breath for 10 seconds". State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said:
"I have seen the news reports. These have, I think, recycled over time. There is -- as I understand it, there is a -- some law currently in the parliament, the exact nature of which is unclear, so I'm not going to try to delve into giving a definitive comment or a detailed comment about something about which I don't have all the facts...The exact nature of that law is a little bit unclear and the exact motivations behind that are a little unclear. So I can't offer, like I said, a detailed comment about it."
Very nicely stated. Now, let's contrast this with Demagoguocratic Senator Chuck Schumer, who recently drew comparisons between the government of Dubai and skinheads with his exceptionally brilliant and informed commentary on the Dubai Ports issue. Not surprisingly, on this most recent issue, he once again jumped right off the diving board:
"[Schumer] said the legislation proved that Iran's Islamic regime 'does not belong among civilized governments...Just at the time when you think the Iranian regime can't be more lunatic or pernicious, they outdo themselves.'"
Don't get me wrong, I am no fan of the Iranian regime's behavior, and it certainly deserves its share of criticism. But if we race to the microphone to bash Iran without first checking the facts, on grounds that turn out to be shaky, we only dilute the potency of legitimate arguments that are morally indisputable.