Mourning Soleimani, from Hollywood to the campus

Clichés about the killing abound. Wag the Dog charges are popular, as are parallels to Bill Clinton’s firing missiles at al-Qaeda targets during his impeachment. Squad members Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib tweeted, respectively, that “Trump wants war” and “we cannot stay silent as this lawless President recklessly moves us closer to yet another unnecessary war.”

Hamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies at Columbia University, writes on his Facebook page that “the targeted assassination of Qassem Soleimani in Iraq is the first major salvo of Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.” Lest anyone miss his subtlety, Dabashi announces “this is Wag the Dog galore.” His advice — “do not trust a word coming out of US or Iranian officials’ — being at least 50 percent accurate should improve his average. But like most of his Facebook rants, this one quickly devolves into bizarre conspiracy theories, such as his assertion that “the New York Times etc just like the state media in Iran are now the official mouthpiece of US and Iran propaganda.”

Also popular is the stability cliché, which claims that killing Soleimani destabilized the Middle East. One less prone to groupthink might ask, When was the Middle East stable? Was it in the good old days before the Trump administration, or perhaps before 9/11? Or was it before the Iranian Revolution, or the Balfour Declaration, or the Ottoman Empire?