Politics & Policy

Dem Rep. Says Iranian ‘Death to America’ Chants Could Be Read in ‘a Couple of Ways’

‘Death to America” may seem to be a pretty clear message from an Iranian crowd and Ayatollah Khamenei, but Representative Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) says there are “a couple of ways” to interpret the chant.

Appearing on MSNBC this weekend, Schiff was asked about a recent parade in Iran, featuring new weapons driven on trucks that had signs reading “Death to Israel,” as well as chants of “Death to America.” The representative explained that Iranians are “actually quite pro-Western” despite the “bitterly anti-American” regime, and that the signs and chants were just to appease “a conservative audience” that opposes the U.S.

While he went on to note that the ayatollah said “Yes, of course, death to America” in response to the crowd’s chant, Schiff cautioned against taking that statement at face-value.

“You could read that in a couple of ways,” he said. “It might be, ‘Yes, of course, death to America — we always say death to America’” — saying it in a more casual tone — “or, it could be ‘of course’ that he really means it.”

#related#His comments echo the rhetoric of a recent news report by CBS News’s Elizabeth Palmer, who downplayed similar chants shortly after the framework for an Iran-U.S. nuclear deal was announced earlier this month. At a morning prayer in Iran, Palmer reported, “there was the usual chant of ‘Death to America,’ but more [out of] habit than conviction.”

Andrew Johnson is an editorial associate at National Review Online.

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