As a long-time subscriber and fan of Mother Jones, I was puzzled by the cover and lead article in the March+April 2014 issue. This article demonizes Iran at a time when AIPAC and other war advocates are making demands in congress to "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran." As a Korean War survivor of an infantry squad that was wiped out by the Chinese in 1951. Every day of my life, I think about my dead buddies -- I hate wars. Now, it seems with this one article MJ has gone from a focus on smart-fearless, left-wing journalism to something that looks like hawkish spin.
This article about the three Americans who were apprehended on the Iranian border and held as hostage is titled "780 DAYS OF SOLITUDE." The "780" is in extremely large, distressed, bold type--reversed on a full page covered in black ink. All very ominous looking. The title seems to ignore the printed facts in the article -- that two of the three Americans were held in solitary confinement for only 120 days following their apprehension on july 31, 2009. Sarah, the third person involved, was freed during her 13th month of detention.
How do the MJ editors come up with the 780 number? This inflames anti-Iran thoughts, and damages all ongoing peace efforts. On the front cover the very huge words "KIDNAPPED BY IRAN" dominated the visual graphics. In the US, an apprehension by border security guards under similar conditions would be called an arrest, a capture, or a detention. Not "kidnapped" a negative word that denotes criminality.
The MJ subtitle states that the three hostages were "headed for two years of hell." While I do not suggest that Iran jails are a cake walk, American military jails routinely use torture and are often more inhumane (see Guantanamo). In our civilian jails, prisoners are treated like sub-humans. Why is solitary confinement torture in Iran, but OK in the USA where it's used on 80,000 prisoners? At least in Iran (according to the article) the cells and court yards are larger, they included windows, and prisoners can relieve themselves privately.
In the US, at Pelican Bay, 51% of prisoners in isolation have been there for at least five years. Solitary confinement in two California state prisons subjects thousands of inmates to "cruel and degrading" conditions and amounts to illegal torture according to Amnesty International.
On October 22, 2012, in an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, Shane, one of the three American hikers, pointed out how solitary punishment in the USA was worse than in Iran. In the sixth paragraph of the article another hicker, Josh, says, "This isn't Iraq. We're in Iran." Based on the years of conflicts between the USA and Iran this was not a good place to be hiking. Some knowledge of the history of persecution, bullying, and the killings of Iranians by the USA and it's allies should have suggested that any unauthorized Americans found in Iran would likely be perceived as spies.
In 1953, an American CIA led coup against the democratically elected government in Iran had placed the country under a military dictatorship that lasted for 26 years. The Shah was installed and with the help of American arms and the repressive Savak secret police (created by the CIA and trained by Mossad) the people were controlled. There was complete censorship and no limits on horrific torture tools.
In 1979, a hugely popular revolution replaced the Shah's pro-Western autocracy with an anti-Western government. In 1980, an American supported Saddam Hussein invaded Iran. To extend that war's misery, we also supported Iran with covert arms transactions (Iran-Contra). As of 2014, American led sanctions that originated in 1979, were increased in 1995, and again in 2006. This has impoverished and continued to kill Iranians. A USA media that profits from wars has led the hate and the cheering with brutal spin.
Poor marketing decisions can destroy highly-rated magazines. Mother Jones may be the new Saturday Evening Post. Founded in 1821, it peaked as a profitable weekly with six million subscribers in1960. In 1969 the Post announced it's closing due to financial problems. In the 1960s, editors made major redesign changes that were not liked by their subscribers. Because the Post had millions of subscribers, they ignored the few thousands who had bothered to send in complaints. The Post misread the importance of those complaints--which led to a an exit of subscribers. In this same time period the Post also lost credibility due to a couple defamation suits. This involved an article claiming that coach Paul "Bear" Bryant and Wally Butts had fixed a 1962 Alabama vs Univ. of Georgia football game.
Following years of success these two major mistakes killed the Post. Credibility was lost and subscribers bailed out. I believe that with the sensationalized "Kidnapped by Iran" cover and the incendiary "780 Days of Solitude" article, Mother Jones has lost credibility. I do not plan to renew my subscription.