I’ve been closely monitoring the news about the tragic suicide of Alireza Pahlavi and the reactions of the internet community, and I finally felt compelled to write this.
The death of a young man in the prime of his life is sad, but here’s why I think some may not feel the same. In academics, we learn early on that every phenomenon must be studied in the context in which it happens; otherwise we fail to see the full picture. Alireza Pahlavi wasn’t just any 44 year old committing suicide; he was the son of the much controversial former Shah of Iran, and naturally this attachment stirs much sympathy along with abhorrence. To expect individuals to treat this as just any other suicide is trivializing it as this very little known member of the Pahlavis symbolizes much more for the average Iranian. To the Monarchic sympathetics his suicide is a continuation of the perceived injustice that the Pahlavis endured according to them. For some others he is the son of a dictator who wronged the country and fled as soon as things got tough and lived a life of luxury and indulgence (the son not the father) and as such they afford him no sympathy.
I however observe a third group emerging; I call them the nostalgic group. They’re not necessarily monarchists, in fact many of them don’t even consider it, yet they’re Pahlavi apologetics. They sympathize with the previous regime, blame the revolution and its aftermath for this tragic event and paradoxically yearn for the good old days. I put forward one question to this group: Would you be feeling the same had the Iranian revolution achieved all (or even some) that it promised? My guess is the answer is no.
I think this is where the nostalgia comes in, I mean had it not been for the current state of affairs in Iran and the tragic mess we’re in we wouldn’t be feeling as nostalgic as to become apologetics for a corrupt dictatorship that existed 32 years ago and is, in my view, greatly responsible for the turn of events. What I’m trying to say is that I think the sudden burst of attention and sympathy to this event should not be confused with renewed interest in the old regime, it is simply selective remembering of the good, feeling nostalgic for those days were we had a shred of dignity left in the international community and many more we feel is lost masked in grief for this young man and expressed in our public display of sorrow.
Attacking anyone and everyone who doesn’t share our stance and accusing them of lack of regard for human life might just be our way of justifying the guilt we feel for sympathizing with the Pahlavis, or it could just be intolerance. I don’t know! But I do know that I wish as a nation were more critically inclined practiced basing conclusions on facts instead of propaganda. The press release by the Pahlavi family simply stated the suicide was motivated by the death of his father (which occurred some 30 years ago) and his sister (10 years ago), and the aftermath of the revolution! Am I the only one seeing how strategically this is worded to serve the Pahlavis political agenda? I’m not alleging that he was left unaffected by all this as I have no idea whether he was or wasn’t and am not willing to speculate, but doesn’t this statement leave much more to be said?
What’s stunning is that many are taking this politically charged statement at face value without questioning its motives and blaming the revolution for his death! Many suffered much greater pains after the revolution, and none had his privileges to ease their pain, but they didn’t kill themselves. We have to wonder what else drives a man of his social and financial status to end his life. My guess is there is a lot more to this than we are led to believe. TO me that press release was dishonest and politically motivated to mask the truth and promote their cause.
My friend Paeizeh raised a very good point: where is Farah in all this? 2 of your 4 children commit suicide, what does it say about you? This and many more questions come to mind should we begin interrogating this event critically.
Human life, or any life for that matter, is sacred to me, this is not about disregard for life. It is about shedding some light on the complex psyche of our society. It’s about offering a critical analysis; it’s about getting to know ourselves better.