Enough of the majority
With the elections just around the corner, I only hope that
the Iranians of 2005 have learned from the Iranians of 1979
May 17, 2005
Lately, I've argued with a lot of people about the Iranian
Revolution, Iranian politics and the current state of affairs in
Iran. Most of these folks support the Islamic Republic with every
ounce of their body. No matter how hard they are pushed on their
ideas, they will not bend. But when the debate gets heated, they
almost always fall back on their cherished catch phrase: "But
the majority of Iranians wanted an Islamic Republic."
I am tired of hearing about the will of the majority of Iranians.
It's nothing personal against Iranians. I am, after all,
just as much a member of the Iranian community as the next. However,
I do have a problem with the majority, anywhere at any time.
My dad used to tell me to be cautious of the majority, for
they're usually wrong. Well, after spending four years studying
at UC Berkeley, I can't help but think how much truth there
is to his statement. At every point in human history, the majority
was always wrong.
In the 15th century, the majority of people thought
the world was flat. In the 17th century, the majority looked upon
Galileo with disgust and dismissed his work immediately. In the
18th century, the majority of Europe believed slavery was normal,
natural and justifiable. In the 19th century, the majority of Americans
genuinely felt that blacks and whites were inherently unequal.
In the 20th century, the majority of Germans thought Hitler and
his policies were the best thing for Germany. No matter what the
topic, issue or debate, the majority opinion has always proved
incorrect. While this reversal may not happen the next day or even
a century later, eventually, the truth proves the majority wrong.
What does this have to do with Iran? How can a glorious 2,700 year
old civilization be susceptible to the idiocies of the rest of
the world? It's simple. We are, after all, only human. However
much we Iranians hate to admit that we're like everyone else,
we can't avoid the indisputable fact that we are just like
every other person in this world. But with this realization comes
acceptance. Iranians must accept that the majority of them were
wrong. More importantly, however, Iranians must accept that they
are still wrong.
How can they still be wrong? After all, 78% of participating voters
in Iran gave their vote to a reformist candidate in 2001. Of course,
people want change. But at the same time, far too many Iranians
justify their vote for a reformer by saying, "Well, the revolution
was a beautiful thing, but it failed us in the end." The
revolution was not a beautiful thing, but instead, was an excellent
example of how easily Iranians can fail -- then and now.
With much hatred, animosity and anger in the atmosphere, the Iranians
of 1979 flocked towards the loudest voice. They did not listen
to reason or logic, but were quickly entranced by charisma and
charm. Unfortunately, this wasn't the first or last time
Iranians followed a leader for the wrong reasons. Fortunately,
however, the events of 1979 can serve as a wake up call for Iranians.
Rather than following the man who shouts the most or the speaker
who passionately waves his fists in the air, Iranians can support
a leader who acts, speaks and thinks rationally. It's long
overdue that Iran becomes a politically mature society that does
not fall prey to the classic tools used by rulers and politicians
to sway the political persuasions of the majority.
With the elections just around the corner, I only hope that the
Iranians of 2005 have learned from the Iranians of 1979. Instead
of falling for the typical anti-America and anti-Israel speech
that draws cheers from the crowds, Iranians should remain calm
and not allow their leaders to draw their attention elsewhere.
Iran has enough to worry about, let alone the problems of America
and Israel. So why do Iranians love hearing those State of the
Union addresses and Friday Tehran prayers that attack the US
and Israel? Why do they not demand more from their leaders and
why Iran is in such bad shape?
As soon as Iranians realize that they're just like everyone
else, Iran can make some progress. Once Iranians see they can
easily fall victim to the political tricks used by their leaders,
can demand a more mature political environment. But until then,
Iranians will always follow the masses, find appeal in the most
passionate voice rather than the most reasonable and succumb
to the flawed will of the majority.
Mazi Bahadori is a fourth year student at the University
of California, Berkeley, studying history. Born in Iran, raised
in the US.