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Get serious
Chomsky has always condemned the undemocratic nature of the IRI and its violations of human rights


August 4, 2007

If we want to solve Iran’s problems we have to be serious and pragmatic. It’s a chess game. It needs strategy and dedication far more than ideology. And, there is absolutely no benefit to be gained from jingoism and insults. If Iranians want to make a positive contribution, they have to approach Iran’s problem with the Art of War mentality. What are the goals? How do we achieve them?

Eliminating the suffering of Iranians in Iran should on top of the list. Democratic values, freedom and tolerance, improved economics, further development are some other goals that most Iranians share. To this end, one has to wonder why some people write what they do on

Nothing is achieved by insults. I should know because I get quiet a number of colorful emails. For the most part, I click “delete.” Even if we have a valid point to make, by throwing one vitriolic statement, we reduce the effectiveness of our statement. To quote a colleague of mine, “it’s like adding a teaspoon of shit to a jar of honey!”

Statements such as “morons like you” will do absolutely “Nothing, nada, zilch” for solving Iran’s problems. On the other hand, dismissing something such as stoning a person as a trivial “one step backwards” also achieves nothing. It may be construed as a carte blanche. If we care about Iran, we ought to point out her problems with the gravity that they deserve.

The lack of seriousness and pragmatism is demonstrated in Peryvand Khorsandi’s piece “Naïve Noam.” Far be it for me to defend Chomsky (he can do that better than me), but I will point out the problems.

Mr. Khorsandi asks “how ... can you demonize people whose power, after almost three decades, remains pegged to death, torture and imprisonment?” You can, in fact you would have to, if your foreign policy for a longer period of time is pegged to even more death, torture, imprisonment, invasion, etc.

Is it not naive to ask such a question while Iraq is burning next door, after Saddam was “demonized” in much the same manner? Just because IRI commits violations of human rights does not mean that Bush regime’s intentions should be ignored. This does not mean that the Islamic Republic is good. It just means that the character of the regime is being used in a political spin with dangerous objectives.

Chomsky’s claim that wild statements made by Iran’s leadership are mistranslated is absolutely correct. That is very easy to check for yourself. And Chomsky would know that because, well, he’s a linguist to put it lightly! He knows where to find the resources for translating it. It should also be mentioned that while Chomsky has pointed out the inaccuracies of the translations of such statements, he has always condemned the nature of these statements.

Peyvand Khorsandi gives the impression that Noam Chomsky is pro-Islamic Republic. This is categorically false. Chomsky has always condemned the undemocratic nature of the regime and its violations of human rights. I challenge Mr. Khorsandi to find one example to the contrary.

Mr. Khorsandi is disingenuous in representing Chomsky’s views on the 2004 elections, and in this instance Mr. Khorsandi demonstrates his lack of pragmatism. I watched an interview with Chomsky on DemocracyNow in which he discussed his views.

Chomsky’s view was that in places were it makes no difference, where victory of either Bush or Kerry was guaranteed, vote based on your political and ideological beliefs. In those states, vote for your alternative candidate. But in states where the outcome was not so clear, it makes sense to choose the lesser of the two evils, John Kerry. This is a strategic choice not based on ideological dogma, and that is exactly what we need in Iran. For example, most Iranians are familiar with Rafsanjani’s past. Who would Mr. Khorsandi choose, the reactionary, radical policies of Ahmadinejad or the more moderate (I use moderate relatively) policies of Rafsanjani?

Finally, Mr. Khorsandi calls on Chomsky to support the release of academics Kian Tajbaksh and Haleh Esfandiari. If Mr. Khorsandi is serious about what he writes, he should do his homework. Chomsky did call for the release of these academics, and the statement was published on Comment

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