Royal blue vs. the rainbow
We don't need HIM to save us
January 31, 2002
One thing is clear: If the monarchists have their way, only two colors
will be allowed in Iran, or rather one color and a paler shade of that color.
Probably Royal Blue and Commoners Blue. I say this because it seems to me
that in the monarchist way of thought, the world only offers two options
and in the true Bush-like way of thinking "If you're not with us, you're
against us." So if for whatever reason, you're not a monarchist then
you're scum of the earth, you're a believer in the "mullahs,"
you're a collaborator.
Up to now, I just ignored it. I think no one has hurt the monarchists
more than themselves in the ugly language they use to discuss politics,
in their inability to believe in differences of opinion, in their complete
disregard for the fact that people can disagree with them and yet not be
monsters. If one day need be, their words, their insults, their anger, their
television programs are there for the world to see.
But there's one issue that needs to be addressed. This need was highlighted
with the honestly titled "All
are not equal" by Abdol Hamid Sheybani (at least let's give
them this much: Monarchists don't hide their own sense of being superior
to the rest of us). Sheybani should actually be happy because his writing
is very similar to that of his Leader, Reza Pahlavi: a series of empty concepts
stringed together to the point of incomprehension. Pahlavi speaks like that
mostly to hide his utter ignorance and inability to think outside the framework
set out by his advisors (No wonder he asks for Bush Jr.'s help so much.
They have much in common). Sheybani, I have no idea why he writes like that.
I'd say it is to hide his sense of superiority to the rest of the world
but I'd be wrong. His belief that some are better than the rest is right
there couched in what I surmise he believes is scientific language.
Not being a monarchist and thus not in possession of such high flutin'
language, I'll come out and say it in clear language: The level of condescension
of most monarchists (with Sheybani's piece being merely its latest manifestation)
towards people in general is insulting and unacceptable. I, or anyone else,
don't need to be lectured about culture nor about how we all need a 42 year
old unemployed man and his cronies to teach us about democracy and freedom.
We don't need you to save us or give us lectures on Iranian history,
nor do we need any of your pseudo-scientific babble. What we do need is
an honest dialogue about the future of Iran that is devoid of hostility
and insults, and does not originate from above, one that believes in the
wisdom and dignity of human beings, one that does believe all are created
equal. Monarchists had a chance to do that and yet they have chosen to take
the dirty route and all I can understand from this is that this is their
nature, that they are incapable of an equal exchange of opinions.
And let me say this loud and clear: No where in the world does a disagreement
with monarchist beliefs brand me or others like me as collaborators or believers
in the horrible actions committed by elements in the Islamic Republic of
Iran. I, nor other people who believe in a system that is neither a theocracy
nor a monarchy, are not mulla-lovers, nor backward thinkers, nor have we
sold our souls to the devil. We happen to believe in something DIFFERENT
than you. It does not make us monsters or horrible people. It only makes
us people with a difference of opinion and if THIS simple fact is too hard
for you to swallow, if to make your point you need to drag others through
muck and shit, then what can I say? What can any of us say?
Let me go to the end of Sheybani's piece, his last paragraph:
"Perhaps Sohrabi would like to suggest a viable alternative, and
while we wait for this, we can watch a new generation of Iranians growing
up who have seen nothing better than a bunch of "mollas" selling
off their country to the lowest bidders."
A viable alternative. I'll suggest several though considering the spirit
of Mr. Sheybani's piece, I doubt he'd consider any of them "viable"
as it entails some of the "lesser" people, you know, the kind
that were not born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Mr. Sheybani (and
let me just say, his piece is merely an example of the kind of mentality
that has been rampant in most monarchist writings, including that of Reza
Pahlavi so this is really not personally aimed at him though he has taken
a sense of being superior to the rest of the people to new heights) writes
that the way children follow their parents, society follows its leaders.
Hmmm... within this framework, I really don't have much of an alternative
to suggest. From where I'm sitting in Tehran, people are actually fed up
with those who ironically like Khomeini believe people are a bunch of sheep
in need of a shepherd to guide them. Nor does it seem to me, contrary to
what Mr. Sheybani states in his point number 10, do people believe they
are born with and stuck with the same culture as their parents and their
parents parents. I understand someone thinking like that when their whole
identity is tied not to who they have strived to become themselves but to
their family name and family wealth but fortunately, there are many of us
out there who rely on our own skills to get through life and for these people,
culture is ever-changing and is organic, and the belief does exist that
we can become a better people not stuck in the merry-go-round of history.
Attached to the belief that people are like sheep needing to be guided
is that they also are sitting here in Iran rotting in their misery waiting
for a savior to come from abroad. Well news flash, they're not. Life is
really hard for many people in Iran. There is economic hardship, political
repression, but a new generation of Iranians are growing up who have seen
a lot better than a "bunch of mollas selling off their country to the
lowest bidders." So if you're planning your entertainment around watching
them, as you claim in your paragraph, I suggest you look elsewhere. People
are not victims neither of the Islamic Republic nor of the monarchists and
they're sure not sitting on their hands waiting for the Iranian community
abroad who is willingly refusing to grow up, to make itself relevant to
the future of Iran by letting go of some of its archaic beliefs and respecting
the lives of those in Iran, who uses Iranian youth and women and pretty
much everyone else as pawns in its bankrupt game of politics, to come save
I know it's hard NOT to infantalize Iranians living in Iran, I know it's
hard to not take the lead of Reza Pahlavi and that Mr. Ringo Zia, and not
treat Iranians as cannon fodder while you sit pretty in Los Angeles or where
ever, but if you are serious about viable alternatives, that's the first
step: Recognizing that all these years, the war and the hardships of the
past 23 years have created an incredibly aware and sophisticated polity,
one who more often than not eschews violence in favor of a more difficult
and yet gradual change, one that has thrived under the extremely hard conditions
of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
You want viable alternatives? How about the 23 year old painter I recently
spoke to? He believes that while Reza Pahlavi may have strong support among
Iranians whose idea of freedom is summarized in going to Discos with his
girlfriend, that it will pass. He believes that if there ever is change,
it will come from within, from someone who has experienced the war, someone
who gives validity to the revolution and doesn't want to sweep it under
the rug. His own paintings attempt to reflect this reality. When I asked
him if he believed there was no alternative other than Reza Pahlavi, he
gave me a strange look and said of course not. There are the melli-mazhabis
who have kept their credibility and for whom, he said, he'd campaign in
a heartbeat. "I've been to Pahlavi's website and frankly, I want to
know, where was he 3 years ago? He's just jumped on the bandwagon that originated
from here, in Iran. He thinks we in Iran are stupid and will be fooled by
his repetitive use of words like democracy or secularism."
How about those who put on the play A Moment of Silence which acknowledged
the killing of the writers and dissidents through a lovely play which chronicled
the fear and the eventual death of a writer, and which at the end of the
play rather than seek an applause, asked the audience to take a moment of
silence in commemoration of all the writers killed? I wouldn't call them
a "new generation who has seen nothing better" than mollas selling
the country. I'd say they've seen a lot lot more. Both better and worse.
I'd say they're a new generation full of courage and the ability to think
independently, and I'd say they wouldn't really appreciate being labeled
as Mr. Sheybani has labeled them "They are simple people and were cheated
and misled to a mass hysteria."
Or how about the army of women who write in
Zanan magazine? They write about everything you can imagine, highlighting
the problems of women in Iran and more importantly, their achievements?
Or how about the women who are making documentaries and feature films? How
about my friend, a 30-year-old unmarried filmmaker who makes her own living
as a production manager, and would balk at the idea that she has no dignity
and she needs Reza Pahlavi to come give it to her. I wonder how all these
people would feel being called simple, not just once, by Mr. Sheybani. I
can ask them and get back to you.
To me, each and everyone of these people are more viable alternatives
than Reza Pahlavi and his insulting call to the international community
to come save these poor simple Persian folks.
Mr. Sheybani may prefer to construct a world where people are children
to be led by "adults" and call it "natural." For him,
the monarchy may be the only viable option. Thankfully for those of us who
grew out of our childhood and have become independent adults, there are
other option out there.