NY Times, Roger Cohen, and the Baha’is


Roger Cohen of the NY Times

Roger Cohen of the NY Times

In about 9 articles this year, Roger Cohen of the NY Times has been writing about modern Iranian society.  Strangely, except for a brief mention in one article, he does not discuss the Baha’i situation in Iran.

Why the snub?
I guess the Baha’i cause in Iran is just not sexy enough.

Baha’is shun partisan politics, divisiveness, and for the most part, live quiet lives serving humanity. The Baha’i story gets lost in the hubbub of geo- and theo-politics, and the so-called theory of the “Clash of Civilizations.”

Cohen’s articles mention the need for rapproachment between America and Iran.  The Baha’i worldview can certainly contribute to that goal; it is inclusive and tolerant, as stated by Baha’u’llah (the founder of the Faith): “…the earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.”

Baha’is have made significant contributions to Iranian society and are touted by ordinary Iranians as being very trustworthy and reliable.  Baha’is will be central to the building of a culture of justice in Iran, regardless of who runs the country.  Now that’s a real scoop.

Results of PasadenaBahai.com’s efforts
Compared to previous Cohen articles on Iran, I did see an uptick in comments that mentioned the Baha’is in Monday’s article, “Iran, Jews, and Pragmatism”.  Maybe it had something to do with alerting my friends and networks about the relative omission of the Baha’is in Cohen’s articles.  Let’s keep the momentum going!

How You Can Help
Well, until Mr. Cohen starts writing about the Baha’is more directly, the best way for us to help is to either write comments to his articles, or recommending comments.  Many comments for his current article are well-written, and several of them (mentioned below) bring up the need to address the issue of the Baha’is.

If you like these comments, then “vote” for them by 1) clicking on the links below, reading the comment, and clicking on recommend; and 2) if you’re not registered at the NY Times, then please register then–it’s free. Note: you can’t recommend a comment unless you’re registered. It’s really easy and they will not spam you, in case you’re asking.

Voting for articles is important! It shows that you took the time to read someone’s opinion, to think about it, and recommend it.

Comment #11, from JG*, Caesarea, Israel:
*This gentleman let me know about Mr. Cohen’s visit to Sinai Temple in LA, where I got to ask Roger a question.  I thank him for his support of the Baha’is!
Summary: a very direct response to Cohen’s assertions, with a brief mention of the Baha’is.

Comment #20, from Philippe Copeland*, Boston:
Summary: An American Baha’i who posits that, “…any discussion of Iran must include the human rights of all religious communities in that country to offer a full picture and context.”

Comment #21, from Samah*, Los Angeles:
*This has got to be my friend Samah–wait, there’s probably 1,000 Persians named Samah in LA! 🙂
Summary: Samah brings up a “…larger point not addressed. Jews are a small minority in Iran, almost negligible. A far better barometer for measuring the repressiveness in Persian society would be to examine the case of the Baha’is, who ARE the largest non-Muslim religious minority in the country.”

Comment #24, from Stefanina Rocco, Canada:
Summary: Stefanina writes: “How does one consistently write about Iran without discussing Iran’s century old and ongoing persecution of its 300,000 + Baha’i community?”

Comment #66, from AW, Florida:
Summary: AW gently asks Mr. Cohen to, “please enlighten your readers about Iran’s treatment of Zoroastrians, Baha’is, Christians and other minorities.”

Comment #68, from A. Foxx, Kansas City:
Summary: Foxx brings up the suffering of all the Iranian people, not just the Bahais.

Comment #84, from Misha, Philadelphia:
Summary: Misha is very direct as well, reminding Cohen to, “don’t forget how Bahai are persecuted, like Jews used to be in Europe.”

One response to “NY Times, Roger Cohen, and the Baha’is

  1. You are correct to wonder why Mr. Cohen prefers not to bring up the situation of the Baha’is in Iran. I think Baha’is forget that not everyone is fond of this faith. Perhaps Mr Cohen’s reporting is a reflection of his own personal beliefs. His brief sojourn in Iran hardly entitles him to write the final story on Iran; however, he is obviously free to express his personal point of view, and he does that very skillfully. You may ask that one need not be an Iranian to understand what goes on in Iran and that is also a true statement. In this case, however, one ought to do impartial reporting by examining all aspects of the picture and this, Mr Cohen chooses not to do. And that remains to be his prerogative.

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