Tuesday, February 01, 2005

It’s the 26th anniversary…
…of the revolution in Iran. Twenty-six years. The television is filled with revolutionary footage, which is interesting because the footage never shows men and women together, and I know they marched together, or uncovered women, and I know that most of the women marching were uncovered. The revolution-related soap operas portray Shah supporters as greedy, ridiculous, clueless, and, in many cases, Jewish. “I never watch the revolution serial,” a friend told me. “It’s always ridiculous.” Every revolution needs its photo, film, and history editors who assist in re-creating events that did not exactly happen, doesn’t it? Don’t trust history you learn in school or in the movie theaters is the lesson here.

Which reminds me, I read little paperback called The Revolutionists about America’s own revolutionists. It was like reading a manual for the Iraqi insurgents (who should, by now, realize how slim their support is among Iraqis themselves) with its stories of Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty whose main activities seemed to be inciting the British troops to violence and creating martyrs who could gain public sympathy.

It seems that public sympathy for the Iraqi-based insurgents is pretty god-damn slim. Millions turned out to vote despite the fact that their lives were credibly threatened and many were killed. Think of that the next time you consider sitting an election out because it is raining.

The Iraqis in Iran were, by reports, positive. They were excited to vote and photos in the newspapers here showed genuinely happy men and women casting their votes. In interviews with Iraqis here, they said that they wanted American troops to stay in Iraq. The Iranian government says that it wants the American troops to leave and shows nightly images of the dead and dying in Iraq along with text that says something like: “Democracy American Style,” the Iraqis in Iran want the troops to stay, and Iranians want the Americans to invade Iran.

“Look,” an Iranian tells me, “if Iran and America did not have something going on under the table, then why is Karzai in Iran? Why are our relationships with Afghanistan improving?”

The nightly news showed pictures of Karzai and Khatami signing an agreement to build a new highway between the two countries. “Oh, so now it will be even easier to smuggle drugs into Iran,” I commented.

“That’s what everyone is saying,” said K.

There is no sign of improvement in the official communications between America and Iran though. Seymour Hersh’s article about covert pentagon operations aimed at discovering hidden nuclear sites in Iran made the news all over the country. The day after I read his article in the New Yorker, I was at a gathering with some pretty influential Iranian businessmen who told me how happy they were that relations between our two countries were improving. “That’s not what I hear,” I responded. To which one responded: “Don’t read the news and don’t connect to the Internet and don’t listen to any official pronouncements.”

I laughed.

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