No Illusions Podcast #58 – Brad H Talks Iran

Today I welcome back to the show Brad Heitmann (aka Brad The Mormon). This time we’re talking about Iran. FOR TWO HOURS. Fer realz.Ermahgerd.

Brad travelled to Iran in 2009 around the time of their Presidential elections and the riots. He spent a couple of hours at a dinner listening to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

We discuss the history of Iran, their current nuclear program and America’s history of invading countries to get at their natural resources.

7 thoughts on “No Illusions Podcast #58 – Brad H Talks Iran

  1. Cameron,

    I recently discovered your podcast on Stitcher and these last two episodes, with Brad, got me begging for more. Like driving at night and you can’t stop looking at the high beam lights coming from the opposite direction. I couldn’t stop listening even though it was painful at times.

    Unless people like him are more common that I suppose, I am guessing that you may find it difficult to produce such an engaging episode soon.

    That first episode showed just how vacuous his religious belief system is, and in light of that, I was very skeptical of everything that he said in the second. Additionally, he may have been one of the most annoying people to listen to. His pen-clicking, self-absorbed ramblings, constant interrupting, and god awful u-turns and round-a-bouts, were still not enough to deter me from listening because he was saying so many things that here in the US we have heard as normal. Like trying to see your image in a cracked and broken mirror. But, that is mostly my personal feelings about the guy. Super annoying.

    Intellectually, I will admit that I am no history scholar, nor scientist, nor do I possess any singular skills or talents that would provide me insight into these issuesand I may not be able to hold a completely clear, factual discussion about the history of the Iran/US relationship with either of you, but I would like to point out a recurring meta-theme that occurred to me while listening.

    While he seems to have constrained you against speaking about religion, its absence in the discussion highlighted its influence for me. There is an unmistakable fingerprint of religious ideology on american policy.

    I don’t know if you have heard of “Manifest Destiny” before, but it is an interesting read in Wikipedia. Wiki – Manifest Destiny .

    Without repeating the entire wiki page here, a quick summation is the belief that God had predestined America to expand its territories throughout the world to bring an improved democratic era, (and the biblical gospel or in my words “world order”), to the world.

    To me it seems that this idea was the natural byproduct of a few forces. After having fought and won our independence from the British, we naturally viewed their presence on our borders as a threat. By association, we began to include all of Old Europe as threats. Simply put, expansionism meant that if we occupy it, they can’t. Additionally and just as importantly the biblical mandate to spread the gospel coupled with the flush of pride from our recent birth as a nation, fueled that same expansionism. All of this would not have been possible without an ever-present belief that God predestined white supremacy. Some degree of racial dehumanization is necessary to explain why a society, any society, could intrepidly endorse slavery and later develop anti-inclusionary policies regarding Mexico and subsequent territories unacceptability as candidates for statehood.

    Even though some politicians and communicators dissented, the fever to expand was too strong for many to resist. If you were granted land that all you had to do was go out and occupy it for 5 years, wouldn’t you imagine the floods of people streaming towards their future. Natives be damned!!

    After the Civil War we began to grapple with the implications of racism and its place in American politics and society. Racism was not dead yet though. Here, faced with the eventuality of allowing other races to dilute America’s purity, Manifest Destiny seems to have shed the skin of her early land grab mandate and morphed into the “police presence”, for the “good of all” ideology. This new ideal had inherited much of its original pressure from the divine biblical mandate of expansionism(now spreading the gospel meant those of Christianity, Democracy and the virtues of Capitalism) with its permitted, if not biblically endorsed, racial bigotry. It had to morph for America to remain “pure”

    I think that it’s not very hard here to make some more connections to bring us to modern day. The push for expansion coupled with a not-quite-dead-yet racism justifying intrusions in foreign nations, armed with post WWII military, technical, industrial and informational superiority, we were able to do what we want, most of the time. This is the current american foreign policy mindset.

    Yes, there are always the issues of the day. The Cubans, the Russians, the North Vietnamese, The Communists, the Muslims, the Terrorists, the Chinese, the Dictator, etc, but behind our involvement in all of it is a Divine Mission and predestination to lead the world out of the darkness of the infidel.

    Yes, the military industrial complex, if you want to try to box it up and wrap it with a bow, seems like a palpable entity. I propose though that religion, bigotry and economics are behind the label. I am not sure which one is the more primal of the three.

    The danger of the casual mind, such as Brad exudes, is that he fails to connect the problems in his own religion with those of society as a whole. By leaving it off the table of thought, discussion America may never change. He will never see that his arrogance is a reflection of his religious mandate to spread his version of the gospel to the world. That same religious and racial arrogance and bigotry leaves him open to predators who need him to acquiesce when they wish to invade foreign countries. He will never see that the US policy towards foreign nations, as well as those of the the deeply religious leaders of Iran, reflects his own religion’s bigotries and religious prejudices.

    There is more to the Iran/US story than just political machinations of dominance. Political machinations are the latest weapon in the war of religious, racial and economic domination.

    As I write this, I still question whether the nation or the religion is the more primal entity. I am not sure one can exist without the other. Maybe it is the synthesis of the two which truly needs to be named in this discussion. I am sure though, that religion has dramatically influenced the history of the United States and promises to for the foreseeable future.

    Currently, I see the influence of religion in the intellectual battle of climate change. As I have stated before, I am not a scientist, nor to I really understand all the science behind climate change outside of the simplified digests that we get from most popular media, but I am scared to death of people like John Shimkis having power in government.
    God won’t allow another catastrophic event like the flood. People who fail to examine their lives may doom us all.

    As an Atheist American from California, my opinions probably do differ much with everyday America. I hope, and am encouraged by the thought that the “Nons” are on the way up. I hope we continue.

    Well, I think that I’ve worn myself out with my pontificating. I think I need a nap.

    I prefer to think that the future is bright.


    1. Steve, Thanks for the insightful comments. Yes I have heard of Manifest Destiny. It’s obviously not unique to the USA though. The Brits believed they were destined to rule the world, so did the Germans, the Romans way back when, and the Hebrews before them (what else is the Old Testament other than an entire book justifying manifest destiny?). It’s a common refrain from imperialist nations that their God/s favour them and want them to rule over the land. I agree with you though that the underlying root of this idea is economics, or I’d just call it simple greed. Religion is also, I believe, a tool that evolved to control people through fear and greed. Racism, perpetuated by religion, probably has evolutionary roots. It made sense, once upon a time, to be fearful of other tribes who looked different to you. A natural response to rally your tribe was to talk about how much better your tribe was than the other tribe. Primal stuff we should have evolved past centuries ago. However in the last couple of centuries, racism provided cheap, disposable human labour for capitalists, so they kept it going as long as possible. Today they use cheap, disposable labour in China instead.

      Finally, don’t be too hard on Brad. I’d say his opinions on world affairs put him slightly more progressive than mainstream America (but not as progressive as many Americans, my wife, for example). He at least has been to Iran (I haven’t) and can speak from personal experience about the nature of the people. As for religion, at least he is willing to discuss it. Many Mormons wouldn’t have the courage or willingness to speak about it like he did.

      I give anyone props who is willing to speak openly and honestly about their beliefs. Open, polite discussion between people of different beliefs can make the world a better place.

  2. Hello there Cameron!

    I’ve been listening to many of your podcasts most of highschool now, and I credit you with changing my opinion on Napoleon and blame you for turning me into a massive Napoleon fan for a while there! My favourite of your podcasts would have to be the No Illusions podcast though – I have a couple of points concerning Brad’s arguments and Rob Mcnealy’s points that I’d like to mention…

    A) Brad kept on suggesting that the scientific method is not a credible source of evidence, but that is a verbal contradiction because he concludes that the scientific method is not credible by using facts and logic, i.e. using the scientific method! As a matter of fact, if one wishes to avoid the scientific method altogether one must reel back all assumptions – he makes statements such as that the universe is big we don’t know all of it etc. but how do we know that the universe exists if we do not use the evidence our eyes give us? How do I know that you’re real? I have no way of telling except for what experience (which the scientific method is evidently based on) tells me is so.

    B) This concerns the gun question, which goes back to August on your show but is still relevant – Rob Mcnealy wants guns to be permitted virtually everywhere. Many among his crowd suggest that guns should be carried by teachers, but as a highschooler I think this raises an interesting point – why can’t students have guns as well? I’d be interested to know Rob Mcnealy’s answer when and if he returns to the show – there are plenty of senior (age 18+) highschool students who have gun licences in Canada – don’t they have the responsibility and rights to protect themselves too? Why can’t everyone in my Grade 12 history class have an automatic weapon? And I would take that a step further – what if an elementary school teacher goes mad (and they often do) and starts shooting fifth graders – aren’t fifth graders allowed to defend themselves? How far do you go?

    Something else on that – I’ll premise this by saying that BC and Washington state are incredibly similar, quite frankly, BC’s north of the borders and Washington is south of the border, our main cities are virtually attached, one of our few differences are Canadian firearms regulations and virtual lack of them in Washington state law.

    In BC we have 1.9 homicides per 100,000 people

    In Washington they have 2.4 homicides per 100,000 people

    1.71 is the number of Washingtonians per 100,00 killed with firearms in 2004

    In BC it was 25% – or 0.45 per 100,000 people in 2004

    C) I listened to your show on “The Wire” and enjoyed it. I think that another show you will find that speaks to the realities of politics and hierarchy is Rome HBO, and I would recommend it.

    I will continue to listen to your podcast and recommend it to fellow British Columbians! I was thinking of starting a podcast of my own actually… Any advice? (Not planning to plagiarize or anything)

    1. Julian, thanks for the lengthy email! However, you are way too articulate for someone in high school, so stop pretending, you aren’t fooling anyone.

      I have seen the first season of Rome & enjoyed it. One of these days I will convince David Markham to do another series with me – this time, Caesar.

      As for doing a podcast, I highly recommend it. Pick the subject you are most passionate about and think of it as a journey you will take your listeners on. Don’t worry about not being an expert. I think of podcasts as learning in public. Definitely let me know when you start, as I’d love to listen.

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