Saturday, February 10, 2007

22 Bahman… and another day off…

Corrections to the text made thanks to comments from "M".

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the revolution: the day that the Shah's regime fell and several days after the Air France flight landed with Khomeini on board. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians (really millions: certainly all 10 million Basiji will be there) will turn out tomorrow to chant Nuclear energy is our inevitableinalienable right (inevitable? Why “inevitable” I wonder? Note to: M, I did see someone wearing a hand-painted sign that had "inevitable" written instead of "inalienable"), Down with America (of course), Down with Israel (double of course), Down with England (maybe they’re on to something ;-) ), and perhaps Down with France and Germany as well. For most it will mean nothing, but for some it will mean something. For a dangerous minority, the aggression is real.

I watched Khamenei speak to air force servicemenat the induction of new police officers (on television, not live). Thousands of blue-hatted men lifted their fists in the air and shouted “Down with America” like a bunch of automatons. Why do regimes always choose to portray themselves in the most despicable manner? Why do they goose step and raise their fists in the air? Why do they choose to set themselves against an enemy rather than for themselves?

It’s wasteful and despicable. And for all those Iranians asking me to tell the world “We are not terrorists,” I challenge you to present a different view. I know it is tough. I know, I know, I know. I am sympathetic. I know it’s fun to be out in a crowd. I know that it’s fun to let yourself get swept away in crowd behavior the way I might do when I go to a rock concert. I know. I know. What’s worse, is that I know how seductive the image of the demonstration is for the media (all-inclusive, because the Iranian media is just as responsible for the image of flag-burning, fist-waving fanaticism as the bugaboo Western media). I know that marchers ham it up for the camera. “I almost got my hair singed,” a photojournalist told me. “When the marchers saw me with my camera, they decided to burn one of their flags.” (For those of you who want to join the fun, burn your own virtual flag. Read what Scott Adams says about flag burning.)

This is the official picture of Iran and the unofficial picture of Iran. This image was created here, not in the west. It will have to be un-created here as well.

It doesn’t help for me to say that a black-tented woman shouting Down with America is much more likely to serve me dinner than to serve me up. It’s time for people here to start taking a bit of responsibility of the image being broadcast out.

And I know it’s hard. It may not even be possible.


M said...

A few corrections:
1. 22 Bahman (Feb. 11) is the day the revolution succeeded, and Shah regime collapsed completely. Khomeini's arrival is on 12 Bahman (Feb. 1).

2. The slogan is not "Nuclear energy is our INEVITABLE right", it reads "nuclear energy is our INALIENABLE".

3. Those blue-hatted men were not policemen, they were Iranian Airforce officers.

ET said...

M, Thanks for the corrections. I have to admit that I was extremely lazy about checking my facts. For that, I apologize.