Let’s face it, Americans are a parochial lot. We don’t travel a lot, at least internationally. And a lot of us have no clue about how to pronounce foreign names. But when someone is in a position that requires him or her to deal with foreign countries and governments, you might expect them to be familiar with and able to pronounce the names of their leaders.
Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn is Donald Trump’s top military advisor, and a week ago was rumored to be on the short list of possible vice presidential candidates. He served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012-2014. Following the horrific attack in Nice, Flynn appeared on Fox News and called for leaders of Muslim nations to condemn it and radical Islamic terrorism in general. During his remarks he proved that he is either woefully inept at pronouncing the names of foreign leaders, or he has been out of touch with what has been going on in Iran for over 20 years.
Flynn appeared on The Kelly File on July 14, where he told host Megyn Kelly that he is looking for leaders from Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Muslim nations to repudiate the Nice attack. Of course, he starts by attacking President Obama for not using the words “Islamic terrorism.”
I’m done trying to convince him to really recognize what it is that we’re facing.
Then he goes on to mention various Middle Eastern leaders, but he only mentions one by name — “Khomeini in Iran.” Here’s what he had to say:
OK, a slip of the tongue? Maybe. But in less than 12 hours he did it again. In an appearance on Fox and Friends, Flynn repeated his call for Muslim leaders to denounce the attack. Once again the only leader he mentions by name is “Khomeini,” although he tells the hosts that he can name others — he refers to them as “so-called leaders” — if they want him to.
Iran’s current Supreme Leader, the highest religious authority in the country, is Ali Khamenei (pronounced KA-Ma-Nay). He was elevated to that position following the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (pronounced Ko-MAY-Nee) following the latter’s death in 1989.
Granted the two men’s names are very similar, and it would be excusable for the average American to mix them up. But Michael Flynn isn’t the average American, and he should know better. One time is a slip of the tongue. Twice says “I really don’t know how to pronounce this guy’s name.” Imagine the outrage that would come from Republicans if President Obama had made a similar mistake.
The Nice attacker has been identified as Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a Tunisian who was known to French police, but according to the BBC had no known ties to any terrorist groups. As of this writing no group has come forward to take credit for the attack, which makes most of the things Flynn had to say, regardless of who the current Iranian spiritual leader is, premature.
Here are Flynn’s comments from the July 15 Fox and Friends:
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