Friday, June 26, 2009

Pray for Neda: And Learn About the Real Iran

I recommend reading an op-ed piece posted on CNN's website today. This is an excerpt:
"...I, too, was born and raised in Iran. My coming-of-age years coincided with the Iranian revolution of 1979. I, too, was on the streets, watching and rooting for the demonstrators. Nothing seemed more natural, more compelling than being on the streets, calling for freedom, breathing the intoxicating, the dangerously euphoric Tehran air.

"I was 12 in 1978, yet I was as undaunted as any adult. Nothing, least of all my pleading parents, could keep me away from the rooftops at 9 p.m...."

"... I soon learned that the images of a fist-throwing mob of angry men and darkly veiled women burning the Uncle Sam effigies were the only images that most Americans had of Iran. Those images had little in common with the Iran I knew -- greater in numbers and in the grip of the same fist-throwing crowds.

"With Neda's death, the Iran I know finally has a face. The sequence of her death is the sequence of our nation's struggle in the past 30 years: The democratic future that 1979 was to deliver collapsing, then trails of blood -- that of so many executed or assassinated -- streaming across its bright promise. The film of Neda's death is the abbreviated history of contemporary Iran...."
I've had the pleasure of knowing and being acquainted with Iranians, and hearing colloquial Persian spoken. Having an Iranian roommate helped. I've studied history, so I am aware of the debt that civilization owes to Persian rulers like Darius the Great.

And, I very emphatically do not agree with John Deady, Giuliani's one-time co-chairman, who said: "I don't subscribe to the principle that there are good Muslims and bad Muslims. They're all Muslims." And, that "We need to keep the feet to the fire and keep pressing these people until we defeat or chase them back to their caves or, in other words, get rid of them." (December 29, 2007)

I don't know how long it will take Iran to recover from the ayatollahs. My guess is that it will be generations before the damage is undone: my fear is that it will be centuries. But, given its history, Persia - Iran - will recover and will, in time, prosper.

Iranians are Not the Enemy

I think an exercise in imagination might help Americans, at least, see the Iran that Roya Hakakian knows.

Imagine that, toward the end of the Carter administration, the KKK, several militia's of the sort that encouraged Timothy McVeigh, and like-minded people took over the United States. They appointed a President-for-life, replaced the existing Constitution with a more 'American' one (by their standards), and for thirty years have been holding mandatory-attendance cross-burnings on a quite regular basis.

That didn't happen, of course, and it probably won't. One of the advantages of being a nation with an increasingly large assortment of ethnic groups and sub-cultures is that, in my opinion, it's getting harder to get enough people hating 'those people over there.'

But, in my opinion, it can be done. I think we're perilously close to defining Muslims and/or (potential) terrorists like Ron Paul supporters and American veterans as being 'un-American.'

Not all Americans are alike, and we don't necessarily follow the lead of the dominant culture. And, in my opinion, that's okay.

Related posts: Views:


Anonymous said...

Iran must be on the front page every day. The MJ and Sanford stories have to take a back seat to the situation there. There is a related post at

Brian H. Gill said...


I'm not sure what you're annoyed at: but a possible revolution in progress which may change the course of history is, by some standards, somewhat more interesting than one more ethically challenged state governor, and a very strange pop star's death.

And, the news media I follow is hardly ignoring Michael Jackson's death, career, fans, finances, and family.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.