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Point

Shooting down the Patriot missile
Fascism-tribalism, and women's shoulder pads, are gone for good I hop

October 15, 2003
The Iranian

Patriotism is worth a piffle, like most sentiments. It is nationalism veiled for decency, and both are tainted for their acquaintance with rowdy, low-class fascism.

("Kheyy", says fascism to his friends in an authentic but anonymous recording from 1937, "you vant to komm fur a beeerrr?" "No Franzi", they said timidly, "ve go to ze collej now". "Akhh, yu sam kinda faggut?" he says. I heard the disturbing tape recording in the Library of Congress one rainy, thunderous night. I was alone but for a cleaning lady dusting Jefferson's bust. "You vant tea, herr doktorr?" I looked up. She grinned like a skeleton, then wiped Jefferson's nose.)

Fascism-tribalism, and women's shoulder pads, are gone for good I hope. I told some ladies in Tehran, loud and clear: fascism - dead. "Ach, get outta town", they tell me as they fix their Alexis Colby shoulder-pads, then freeze dry the bouffant hair.

I say, it is no good fighting globalisation with vigorous dance festivals. You might as well tell the world your culture is a stuffed corpse, live as a puppet. Former Soviet states do it, hoping a cocktail of dance, vodka and Lenin posters will see them through. Lenin and his wife Onion ("Ve like tea but ve like ze blood better"), not Bush, Starbucks or former State Secretary Ronald Macdonald, were the culture killers. And then the piffle-ridden scum parade every May Day to commemorate the Gulag glitterati.

You know a culture is on life support when you hear, like every day in Iran, "we" do things this way or that way, we love "our" poetry and learned men, "our" Ibn Sina, Ferdowsi, etc. Then we have the Mosaddegh "tragedy" to unite us (a beautiful story I love to hear time and again, though it is a little gory, you know when the villain guy Eden guns down 'Mosi' at his little girl's garden party and he falls flat-faced on that pizza, and the family just scream and scream?)

I was taken to task for my failure to adhere to the Mosaddegh cult by one patriotic reader who said I was "out to lunch" because I had failed to see the "point" with Mosaddegh: he nationalised oil. Well now I do, so I say Wahaaay to Mosaddeq. ("Ruh-e mani Mosaddegh", a song for you Diana Krall, take it slow).

Now with our "national" oil, we're happy, right? Specially with the subsidised petrol we can guzzle to our heart's content, driving around Tehran's Jordan and Vozara avenues for subsidised j**deh baazi.

But ve muss be proud of ze Vaterland, its mountains und ze landskape... Vell, first stop littering the place with rubbish. I reject the patriotism of Iranians who go hiking in Darakeh outside Tehran and throw crisp rappers down the gorge in the land they love, litter the mountainside as they drive to the Caspian, or "uglify" Iran with shoddy constructs like the Caspian villas shown on this website. You have your ugly building concept, then very ugly, kitsch, then so damned ugly it is the work of an Iranian Haji Me'mar.

If you are offended by this article and find it dismissive of Iran and Iranians, then let me proceed with greater alacrity.

All landscape is beautiful, I once told a "Concerned Green Comedy" seminar in Jakarta. We noticed some illegal rainforest logging going on outside, which immediately prompted a gaggle of new jokes. It was fun.

To speak of patriotism now is to answer a scientific question in medieval English. Relevant today are the bread-and-butter issues we all cherish: freedom, rule of law, open government, free press, personal security and free market, free market, free market. Basically you want to bank your money where you live ("You robbed my heart at the Chase Manhattan, so gimme a dime", is my new song).

When the news shows a boatful of Afghan refugees floating off Indonesia trying to reach Australia, one concludes that motherland Afghanistan and a lifetime with Taliban or General Dostum are not so fantastic, and you will consider moving to a country with beaches, freedom, law, and paid jobs other than factional fighting. It is called voting with your feet.

Ah, but they will go back when things are OK. I beg to differ. Because convenience, security and good schooling for your children beat a "better" but still trashy motherland. Humans have personal priorities now and are disinclined to believe the collective-dream claptrap: call it evolution. (So take that, third world politicians, you're a lot of crooks and "coffee mothers")

"You have a point, as always", a Connecticut fan wrote to me recently, "sadly undermined by your frivolity." ("Phoo, phoo, phoo", I wrote back). Your points "are to my life what bubbles are to Cola", said another authentic fan, Lolita Thrombosis from New Kiev in Milwaukee. "I've stopped drifting around Walmart and stay home now to read your articles", she wrote. I understand she was recently found dead in her chair, a half-eaten pizza slice on her lap. Another fan, a senior Iranian diplomat, said "chamanetam mashti".

I say to these friends, my views are the fruit of years of contemplation and a maturing outlook. So before you go all Patriot Ballistic, think: was Voltaire a patriot, or Socrates?
Actually yes. Here is part of an unknown but authentic Platonic dialogue, recently found near Baltimore.

Socrates: Khey, Alkibiades, you agree?

Alkibiades: No, iss rabbish vat you say.

S: You cam out I smasha your face, ha?

[Alarum, crowd rushes into the Stavros tavern] Stravros, Stavros, issa Socrates again, khe smasha da Alkibiades.

Stavros: Ach... dat Sokrates, natink but trraaable.

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