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Anonymous guesswork
We should not lower our voice

By Saeed Ganji
February 22, 2002
The Iranian

In response to comments by an anonymous senior member of Nehzat Azadi (Freedom Movement) and the National Front: ["A lot to be said"]

Before I get to the meat of what I want to tell you, allow me to thank you, sincerely, for the years of service that I'm sure you have provided to our nation. We are all grateful to you and people like you. You make us all proud.

I find several issues in this article, however, that I find disturbing, and worthy of a second look. Perhaps you would like to share your opinion on these. First and foremost, I don't understand the matter of you not revealing your name "for security reasons". Since you were among the only thirty people gathering at Mr. Bazargan's house, I'm sure the regime could find out who you are if they wanted to.

But you're not saying anything really all that threatening to the regime. Much worse opinions have been voiced on this very site, some by people inside Iran, and with their full name on the article. In general, this sort of overcautious behavior sends two very negative and damaging messages to the rest of us. One is that the regime is so powerful and scary that we should lower our voice when we say something against its leaders. They are not, and we don't have to. So, relax, and speak your mind.

Secondly, if everyone starts following your lead, and basically "shuts up", it makes it a lot easier for the regime to go after the few who have the courage to speak up. This is starting to sound almost like a betrayal, isn't it? Let's just say "It's not cool." Again, if we ever hope to achieve real democracy in Iran, we all have got to stick to our duties. As free citizens, we need to show a little more courage, determination and confidence.

We can all, for example, from time to time, write a letter or something to our government officials, and while maintaining a very polite attitude, voice a concern, and put our names right there at the bottom. Believe me, if enough of us do this, it creates an immense amount of pressure, and the best kind of it. As long as we hide behind each other, we are not worthy of calling ourselves free.

Another issue I had with your comments was that you don't seem to distinguish between the events at which you were present, physically, and others where you are simply "concluding" things. It was very illuminating for me to read the first portion of the article, where you discuss the meeting at Mr. Bazargan's house, and some of the issues that immediately followed it.

If you had simply stuck to things you had witnessed, it would have been a greatly interesting read. But when it comes to guessing what else might have happened behind closed doors, believe me, we've heard it all, in as many colorful versions as you can imagine.

The epitome of this paradox is when you try to explain to us the exact personal relationship between Mr. Khatami and Mr. Khameneie To quote the article: "In fact, Khatami went to see Khameneie to find a solution and Khameneie told him he was going to ask him [to become president]. So Khatami was introduced to the people as an alternative. He was to save the Islamic regime."

Would you care to tell us what Khatami was wearing (that's easy!), and what he ate that day too? Why don't you admit, to yourself first, and foremost, that you don't really have an insight to the intricacies of a very complex relationship between two people you don't really know? How can you possibly claim to know exactly how someone feels about something?

The problem with this sort of simplistic view is that it ignores all shades of gray and paints a black and white picture that is easy to grasp, but has nothing to do with reality. And I don't want to argue about what Khatami feels, deep down, about velaayate faghih or Khameneie's ways, etc etc. Anything I say, will be just a guess, and isn't worth its ink (or the neutrons of your monitor!)

Let me use an example that is perhaps less emotionally tinted and will allow us to concentrate on the issue itself. Let's take President George W. Bush. Is he really as religious as he says he is, or is he just playing a political game to attract the votes of the religious right? A similar inquiry to the one you propose about Khatami, isn't it? The correct answer is: IT DOES NOT MATTER! What matters are his ACTIONS!

The religious right will support Bush as long as he supports their cause, in his actions. Who cares what he feels deep down inside? The religious right takes one look at him, takes another at Al Gore, and it's easy for them to decide whom they're going to support. And, no, they will NOT vote for a third person who might be more to their taste, because they are smart enough to realize that this would equate a vote for Gore.

Lastly, I like your suggestion at the end of the article: "Now it is time for planning for the future. But I should advise everyone that we should avoid branding and bashing ourselves. When Iranians are truly united, then that will be the doomsday for the Islamic Republic." But don't you think this advice would have made a lot more sense if you hadn't just bashed the main opposition leader yourself?

In fact, with the Gore/Bush analogy in mind, let me ask you a question. At this time, in the real world of Iranian politics, which is composed of the two main factions of "hard liners" and "reformers", who do you think would benefit when we stop supporting the reformers while we wait for the perfect leader to show up?


Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment for the writer Saeed Ganji

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