The Islamic Republic of Iran is replete with beautiful mountain vistas, a clean subway system and keen scholarly discussion, if the Institute for Historical Review’s (IHR) Mark Weber is to be believed. The country is also the victim of the harmful depredations of a “Zionist-controlled Hollywood,” according to Weber. He and more than 40 other non-Iranians gathered with their Hollywood-hating Iranian peers for a four-day February conference in Tehran. Speakers from the United States, Europe and the Middle East claimed that Hollywood did everything from pollute their cultural environment to promote war with Iran. If you thought Americans were all skinny, that was a false impression caused by Hollywood. And if you looked around and thought about sex, well that too was the fault of Hollywood.
It could have been a Christian-right gathering in Mississippi for all the complaints about Hollywood films, except for the chadors and protests of the international sanctions aimed at Iran’s nuclear bomb production plans. And Weber, a white nationalist with a long pedigree on the national socialist side of the street, does not usually get invited to Christian right events.
As long-time Searchlight readers might remember, Weber began as a staffer for William Pierce’s National Alliance in the early 1980s, moved over to a paid position at Willis Carto’s Holocaust-denying IHR, and then succeeded in throwing off Carto’s corporate control of IHR in the 1990s and seizing it for himself. After the market in denial literature stagnated, Weber switched to straight-up anti-Semitica—ending up almost where he began. Weber still traffics in Hitlerism, as when he did a meeting with David Irving in Irvine, California last October. His talk in Iran, however, was all about “the Jews” and the “Zionists” control of Hollywood, the media and everything else.
“We are engaged in a great, global struggle,” Weber declared, “that pits an arrogant and malevolent power that feels ordained to rule over others [here Weber means “the” Jews—ed] on one side, and all other nations on the other.” For Weber and his ilk, Hollywood is only the tip of their problem. Weber spent several days in Iran last September, where he no doubt struck many of the same themes.
Also in Tehran with Weber was Merlin Miller, the once and future presidential candidate of the American Third Position (A3P), now calling itself the American Freedom Party. In some respects the party is a retread of the now folded Populist Party, including being founded and run by hard-core white nationalists and anti-Semites. Like the Populist Party, it also draws miserably low votes totals—less than 13,000 in a national election for Miller.
The party’s center of activities is southwest corner of the country. The national headquarters is a mail drop in Las Vegas, several blocks from where Don Wassall runs his tabloid, The Nationalist Times. When he lived in the Pittsburgh area, Wassall worked as the Populist Party’s executive director, and published his personally-owned tabloid as part of that operation. He now lives in Las Vegas, and works closely with Los Angeles lawyer Daniel Johnson, who serves as party chairman.
Miller’s vice presidential partner was Virginia Abernethy, a retired university professor, a stalwart leader of the Council of Conservative Citizens, and well-known anti-immigrant activist. One of the party’s other candidates was Harry Bertram in West Virginia, a role he long-ago performed for the now-gone Populist Party. Anti-Semites bond with anti-Semites; in this context, Miller’s invitation and attendance at the Iranian gathering makes completely sense. Indeed, he was with Weber last September when they both were in Iran and met with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (Remember David Duke was in Teheran for a Holocaust denial conference in 2006.)
Less understandable was the presence of former United States Senator Mike Gravel. An anti-war liberal Democrat during the Vietnam era, he served two six-year terms before losing an election in 1980. In 2008, Gravel became a member of the Libertarian Party—an organization now on the periphery of much of the Tea Party movement. Shifting even further to the right, Gravel joined Willis Carto, the Holocaust denier, at a Barnes Review conference in 2003. Gravel claims he is not a Holocaust denier. But one has to wonder what he thought he was accomplishing in Teheran.
In the end, all of the talk of “Hollywoodism” in Tehran begins to sound much like the ranting of those promoting Holocaust denial, particularly from the likes of Weber.
This article was written last March for publication in the April 2013 edition of Searchlight magazine, a monthly published in London for almost 50 years; it is the premier international anti-fascist and anti-racist news source. http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/