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I no longer blame all of Iran
Iranians made a mistake and many are paying dearly for it

By Debra Johnson
June 24, 2002
The Iranian

Making a difference in Iran? About time someone does! More power to you!

Mind you, I don't blame anyone for fleeing the Islamic Republic, having lived under the abusive power of the mullahs myself there from 1982 to 1983. It may have been worse for me because I am American born and bred married to an Iranian I met here in the States who took me to Iran for an allegedly short visit and then told me he lied and intended to keep me there forever.

It wasn't the culture that bothered me; that was very strange but also very wonderful. It's just that as an American, I was used to having civil rights -- and specifically womens rights -- and could not learn to live without them. Oh yes, and I REALLY hated being stuck in "headjob" in 110 degree weather and not being able to do so many harmless things I liked to do, like swiming or dancing.

Also, getting a daily dose of "Marg bar Omrika," hearing my country called "Shaytan Bozorg," and seeing our flag burned and trod upon didn't improve my opinion. It made me want to do violence on those demonstrators whom I could only see as a threat both to my country and personhood. They would kindly tell me it wasn't personal (they were very polite one-on-one), it was just my government they were protesting.

What they didn't understand, COULDN'T understand, for lack of experience with such a thing, is that Americans ARE the American government. We affect as much as we chose to.

After escaping Iran (it's a long story; don't ask), I was still so angry that I joined the U.S. Army with the express hope of taking up arms against those bloody fundamentalists. The Army, however, wouldn't let me anywhere near the Middle East as they have a policy to avoid soldiers' acting on personal vendettas. It's just as well.

After 18 years or so, I finally calmed down. I no longer blame all of Iran. Iranians made a mistake -- not in the Revolution itself (which was justifyably against a tyrant), but rather the hard-line intolerant course it was allowed to take -- and many are paying dearly for it. Many others, ironically, fled to the very country against which they'd so loudly declaimed: the U.S. I don't blame them, really, but it strikes me that if they had stayed in Iran to help re-direct the bad turn the revolution had taken, things might have been better for Iran now.

All of Iran's best minds are in the U.S. or other Western nations because fundamentalist-run countries do not tolerate free thinkers or free thought that go with these fine minds. It's one of the reasons, for instance, that Iran lacks good medical care. It's a hell on earth for free-thinkers. Even those that remain are very quiet in public because it is dangerous to be otherwise.

Can you tell I despise fundamentalists? It isn't just Iranian Muslim fundamentalists, but all fundamentalists of all religions. In my view, everyone should be allowed to believe as they please and practice the religion of their choice so long as they don't denigrate or abuse anyone else for not being in full agreement with them, and that includes family members. I guess my definition of a fundamentalist is someone who wants to force their beliefs on others, whether political or religious, and, failing this, tries to remove, put-down, or otherwise subdue all opposition.

When I was a child in Sunday school, my teacher used to say that anyone belonging to any faith but Pentacostal Christianity was going to burn in Hell. It's one of the most important things that fed me up with church until I finally left. I had friends belonging to other faiths and they were good people, I didn't care what the stupid Sunday school teacher had to say about it. Later, the same teacher, upon hearing that I was going to college, said that knowledge was what had "corrupted" me.

Does knowledge corrupt? Or does it simply relieve one of the cruel, intolerant, clutches of fundamentalism? If the latter is true in any manner, shape, or form, then only educated Iranians can save Iran from the determinedly ignorant fundamentalists. Last rough figure I saw showed the dyed-in-wool fundmentalists of Iran to be only about 12% of the population. Please make a difference for Iran! Iran's new generation deserves better than their "revolutionary" parents have wrought for them!
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