A Christian Revolution
Americans have opted for a revolution based
on faith, as Iranians did in 1979, and may live to regret it, as
November 6, 2004
'How can 59,054,087 people be so dumb?' cried the British mass
Mirror referring to the election of George W
Bush for a second 4-year term as president of the USA. A similar
question has been asked by many young Iranians of their parents' support
for the Islamic revolution a quarter century earlier.
the two events strikingly similar is that in this election the "war
on terror" or the debacle in Iraq or even the economy were
not the number one factor for people to vote for President Bush,
but the "moral values".
This reminds one of the famous
saying of late Ayatollah Khomeini that the Iranian people did not
support the revolution for "bread or melon" but for
Islam. What we are facing in today's America is a Christian
Revolution with far reaching consequences for decades to come...
The election of President Bush for a second term surprised most
people of the outside world as well as a great many in America.
However, the real shocker came when it was revealed that what clinched
this comfortable victory was not mundane questions of war on terror
or the effect of the American invasion of Iraq and the high casualty
rate now being inflicted on the American soldiers.
It was also
turned out that even the unsatisfactory economic conditions (to
put it mildly), the huge budgetary and trade deficits, the steep
fall in dollar, the deteriorating job market, the fall in social
security and medical insurance cover for millions of Americans,
and the looming economic troubles emanating from the trillions
of dollar deficit created by the double whammy of tax cuts for
the rich and the expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, did not
feature large in the reasons why people voted their president in.
True to the spirit of a devoted people "sacrificing" their
material needs for "higher moral values", the American
people went for issues like abortion, gay rights and stem cell
These moral issues seem to have been the driving force for both
the high turnout of the voters amongst the devoted Christian Americans
and their overwhelming support for George W Bush. They were convinced
that their society is threatened by corrupt proponents of liberal
tendencies, that a "cultural attack" is under way,
that they have to take a stand against this threat, and that the
God-fearing and devoted President Bush is the best person to provide
them with the salvation they need.
To that end, they were quite
happy to ignore all the telltale signals coming out of another
four years of the neo-cons policies that have cost them so much
so far. As true believers, they were ready to pay the necessary
price for their beliefs, to put their values higher than their
material and worldly needs. True Christians.
The millions of Iranians who answered Ayatollah Khomeini's
call to support the revolution and his Islamic Republic had similar
motives. They too were outraged by a "corrupt culture" (hajmeh
farhangi) making inroads into the Iranian society manifested in
the western way of life, emancipation of women, and collapse of
the traditional values of the Iranian people.
They saw in Khomeini
and his preachings a salvation for all the ills of the society
and a promised land wherein not only they can live their Islamic
values but would also benefit from a better worldly life. It is
intriguing to note that many Americans who voted for George W Bush
too believe that he would also provide them with a better life
with his economic policies.
The Iranians who voted for the Islamic Republic were of course
in for a big shock. They had to suffer terrible consequences of
their choice for a generation in terms of a devastating war, rampant
poverty, economic disaster, cruel suppression of their basic rights
and freedoms, and widespread social ills such as addiction, prostitution,
crime and corruption.
Not only that, but they got much worse than
what they had bargained for in return: instead of an Islamic utopia
where their moral values will be safe, they had to come to terms
with all sorts of moral decays, hypocrisy at the highest levels
of the Islamic regime, and a breakdown of the fabric of society
at its root level. They could not expect much in terms of improving
the economy -- a subject Khomeini regarded as "belonging to
but they could not imagine that their moral values, too, would
be so trampled on.
The American society of 21st century is of course much different
from Iran of late 1970's. But the choice the Americans made
last Tuesday may have also more far reaching consequence than they
have imagined. They have already had a taste of what the new-cons
have for them in terms of engaging Americans in bloody and costly
wars in foreign lands.
But a second term for President Bush with
a higher number and bigger margin of votes than the last will
act as both an endorsement of his policies in the past and an encouragement
to do so more in future.
The same applies to other policies of
the President, most importantly in the economic fields. These policies
will have consequences for much longer than the 4 years he will
be in office. He will also have the chance of putting his stamps
on more permanent bodies of the US institutions such as the Supreme
Court, when he is given the task to appoint new members to replace
one or more judges who will be leaving the Court soon.
the effect of this week's vote by the devote Christians of
the United States of America will chart the course for a generation
of Americans. Its effect on the outside world too
may not be less dramatic or short-lived. The Americans have in
opted for a revolution based on faith - a Christian Revolution.
The 59,054,087 people who voted for George W Bush may not be so
dumb as the British daily suggested. Neither can it be said of
the vast majority of Iranians who welcomed the Islamic Republic.
It is the power of faith and religion, combined with the leaders
with religious zeal who use and abuse this faith for their political
ends. And true, religion is intoxicating and one may do things
under the influence of religion that otherwise may found them unreasonable
to say the least.
The Iranian people have seen the terrible outcome
of being led by their blind faith - and regret what they did
to the core. Obviously, the effect of the American experience will
be of quite different kind and magnitude (both locally and internationally).
But the Americans too may live to regret this act-of-faith, and
then start a long battle to reclaim the secularism and freedom
that have been the cornerstone of American democracy and enjoyed
of Americans for over two centuries.
Hossein Bagher Zadeh is a human rights
activist and commentator on Iranian political and human rights issues.
He is a spokesperson for Manshoor
81 (Charter 2003). His weekly column on Iranian
affairs (in Persian) appears in Iran
Iranian publications. He lives in England.