In today's tour of state-sponsored propaganda: China addresses the Dalai Lama's "murky psychology," Iran cracks down a rapper and Venezuela tries to define propaganda. We begin in China.
The Dalai Lama Is Past His Prime
China's state-owned newspaper The Global Times lashed out against the Dalai Lama Monday following the Tibetan spiritual leader's accusation that Chinese agents attempted to assassinate him by training Tibetan women to expose him to poison. The newspaper responded to the strange allegation with a rather ham-handed editorial in today's edition. The message? If China wanted to kill the Dalai Lama, it would've done it years ago, but either way, the spiritual leader is old and crazy. "The Dalai appears to have become mixed up in his old age," reads the editorial. "Let's put it simply: If the central government wanted to 'eliminate' the Dalai Lama, why has it waited for such a long time?" Rubbing in the fact that the spiritual leader is 76-years-old, the paper says it would be "foolish to take action against Dalai at such an old age," noting that the incident "reveals his murky psychology."
Obviously, the Dalai Lama is getting up there in age, and diseases like Alzheimer's commonly begin showing symptoms after 60, but it's difficult to see this as anything other than a low blow by the state-owned newspaper. Especially given that the spiritual leader keeps a busy international schedule of speeches and talks in which he continues to wow audiences.
Iranian Rapper Becomes the "Salman Rushdie of Music"
You've got to fight for your right ... to rap. Iranian hip hop artist Shahin Najafi is facing a death threat for his latest single hailed as a "blasphemous" work of art. The Germany-based rapper is getting an earful from Iran's official and semi-official outlets, which have put a bounty on his head. Publishing a fatwa from Ayatollah Naser Makareme Shirazi, a pro-Iranian regime cleric, Mehr News Agency quoted him as saying "Any outrage against the infallible imams ... and obvious insult against them would make a Muslim an apostate." Meanwhile, The Guardian's Saeed Kamali Dehghan reports that government-controlled platforms are circulating details of the bounty:
An Iranian religion website which runs on the regime-controlled .ir domain, Shia-Online.ir, has offered a $100,000 (£62,000) reward for anyone who kills Najafi.
"A (website) founder who lives in one of the Gulf Arab states has promised to pay the ($100,000) bounty on behalf of Shia-Online.ir to the killer of this abusive singer," the site said.
The song is controversial for criticizing Iranian society, including its religious leaders. Aesthetically, it's a pretty catchy tune, and the numbers seem to back it up. The music video has more than 350,000 views:
Venezuela's Propaganda Outlet Condemns Propaganda
We're quite fond of state-TV network Venezolana de Television. Whether it's gushing over Hugo Chavez's popularity on Twitter or spreading wildly optimistic forecasts about the ailing leader's health (he has 50 more years to live!) it's always a reliable source of uplifting propaganda. But today, it's engaging in some media criticism, attacking Venezuela's "private media" for its "fascist adventure[s]." The lengthy article condemns the country's "private media owners" for continuing to "shamelessly" violate the "constitutional concept of truthful information." On display are a range of articles, some of which criticize Chavez. Other examples extend way back into Venezuela's history. You can see them all here. Pot. Kettle. Black.