Whenever officials of the Islamic Republic start paying too much attention to something it usually means that there is cause for concern, that a new fault has been found with the things people enjoy or believe in and there will be no rest until that pleasure or custom is abolished. Iranian officials have access to a bottomless reservoir of brilliant notions, and they are not fond of repose. They do not see the sense in leaving things that are fine the way they are in peace.
Not long ago, an Iranian official with too much time on his hands decided that the history of the dynasties should be omitted from textbooks and replaced by the history of “the people.” He explained his rationale: “Students should not be forced to memorize so many names and dates.” In a country with a 2,500-year history of monarchic rule, which until three decades ago knew no other system of governance, this decision meant fast-forwarding historical instruction from the age of dinosaurs to the reign of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and, of course, the victorious Islamic Revolution of 1979.
I remember criticizing this decision to rewrite Iranian history in the presence of a self-proclaimed revolutionary and practitioner of the regime’s “true Islam,” which apparently surpasses that of even the early Muslims. Shocked at my words, he used the wisdom acquired through years of loyalty to the Islamic Republic of Iran to ask me, “Where is the pride in having lived under kings? At least we can hold our he… >>>