Last night, Slate took a break from crapping on service dogs to try to explain why Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is just so gosh-darn charming on Twitter:
In 2018, the same person can be both a vicious former theocrat and a loveable Twitter rascal. https://t.co/Y4iKEf00FV
— Slate (@Slate) December 12, 2018
Now, it’s important to note that, despite the cringeworthy headline, the post itself doesn’t all-out glorify Ahmadinejad. The author does acknowledge some of Ahmadinejad’s less endearing qualities like Holocaust denial. But she does attempt to understand his appeal by trying to humanize him somewhat:
According to some, it’s not that Ahmadinejad suddenly cares about sports. (“It sounds like he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” ur–sports commentator Mike Francesa told the New Yorker.) Instead, he has an obvious agenda with these tweets, one beyond Twitter fame. Most of them can be read as digs at President Trump or attempts to draw attention to issues dividing America, as a way of criticizing America at large—and deflecting criticism of his own misdeeds. It really is that simple: He hopes that by weighing in on sports and other matters of more innocuous fandom, people will forget that barely a decade ago, his U.S. visit and speech at Columbia University halted the news cycle in outrage.
The weird thing is it has kind of worked (even as some figures, like Jake Tapper, have tried to scuttle the makeover). That’s just where we are now: The same person can be both a vicious former theocrat and a loveable Twitter rascal. But it’s still a little disquieting to see giddy GIF threads form under every Ahmadinejad tweet—even supposedly ironic—with his very recent history as a violent menace reduced to a punchline for the Twitter initiated and above-the-fray podcast fans. Then again, maybe better to be an authoritarian–cum–Twitter novelty than the other way around.
After the final paragraph is an invitation to support Slate’s journalism:
But after reading that article, we’re still wondering where the “journalism” comes in.
— Alternate Universe Acosta (@diary_jim) December 12, 2018
— Andrew Syrios (@rios9000) December 12, 2018
— Judean Rebel 🇮🇱🇺🇸 (@JudeanRebel) December 12, 2018
No, no he can’t.
— Uncle Boom (@mandolinhombre) December 12, 2018
Why, are you thinking of hiring him?
— Samuel Jacob Stephens (@LeJediMaitre) December 12, 2018
Well, they do need to work on cultivating a more “lovable” image.
“HOW DARE YOU NORMALIZE TRUMP, YOU NAZIS”
— Jay (@Notkebejay) December 12, 2018
Seriously, Slate. What is this business?
This is the type of garbage I expect from Slate.
— KyleF (@KF1776FIKLE) December 12, 2018
OK, that’s fair.
You guys are awful. Go away.
— Eric (@E_Oldy9) December 12, 2018
Aren’t they supposed to be somewhere anyway?
We were told you were going on strike. What happened to the strike
— Harry Khachatrian (@Harry1T6) December 12, 2018
Aren’t you supposed to be on strike?
— Isaac Inkeles (@IsaacInkeles) December 12, 2018
Aren’t you on strike?
— Elisabeth (@Elisa2469er) December 12, 2018
so,,,, no strike ?
— Dan (@Red_DMartin) December 12, 2018
When does that strike start again? Looking forward to that.
— Herk Driver, Overhead Keg Press Champion (@G130J) December 12, 2018
Please go on strike.
— snowmel⛄❄️🌲 (@wxmel) December 12, 2018
If striking is too tall an order, here’s a simpler solution:
Delete your account.
— Paul Cortese (@RealPaulCortese) December 12, 2018