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Enough of the majority
With the elections just around the corner, I only hope that the Iranians of 2005 have learned from the Iranians of 1979


Mazi Bahadori
May 17, 2005

Lately, I've argued with a lot of people about the Iranian Revolution, Iranian politics and the current state of affairs in Iran. Most of these folks support the Islamic Republic with every ounce of their body. No matter how hard they are pushed on their ideas, they will not bend. But when the debate gets heated, they almost always fall back on their cherished catch phrase: "But the majority of Iranians wanted an Islamic Republic."

I am tired of hearing about the will of the majority of Iranians. It's nothing personal against Iranians. I am, after all, just as much a member of the Iranian community as the next. However, I do have a problem with the majority, anywhere at any time.

My dad used to tell me to be cautious of the majority, for they're usually wrong. Well, after spending four years studying history at UC Berkeley, I can't help but think how much truth there is to his statement. At every point in human history, the majority was always wrong.

In the 15th century, the majority of people thought the world was flat. In the 17th century, the majority looked upon Galileo with disgust and dismissed his work immediately. In the 18th century, the majority of Europe believed slavery was normal, natural and justifiable. In the 19th century, the majority of Americans genuinely felt that blacks and whites were inherently unequal. In the 20th century, the majority of Germans thought Hitler and his policies were the best thing for Germany. No matter what the topic, issue or debate, the majority opinion has always proved incorrect. While this reversal may not happen the next day or even a century later, eventually, the truth proves the majority wrong.

What does this have to do with Iran? How can a glorious 2,700 year old civilization be susceptible to the idiocies of the rest of the world? It's simple. We are, after all, only human. However much we Iranians hate to admit that we're like everyone else, we can't avoid the indisputable fact that we are just like every other person in this world. But with this realization comes acceptance. Iranians must accept that the majority of them were wrong. More importantly, however, Iranians must accept that they are still wrong.

How can they still be wrong? After all, 78% of participating voters in Iran gave their vote to a reformist candidate in 2001. Of course, people want change.  But at the same time, far too many Iranians justify their vote for a reformer by saying, "Well, the revolution was a beautiful thing, but it failed us in the end." The revolution was not a beautiful thing, but instead, was an excellent example of how easily Iranians can fail -- then and now.

With much hatred, animosity and anger in the atmosphere, the Iranians of 1979 flocked towards the loudest voice. They did not listen to reason or logic, but were quickly entranced by charisma and charm. Unfortunately, this wasn't the first or last time Iranians followed a leader for the wrong reasons. Fortunately, however, the events of 1979 can serve as a wake up call for Iranians.

Rather than following the man who shouts the most or the speaker who passionately waves his fists in the air, Iranians can support a leader who acts, speaks and thinks rationally. It's long overdue that Iran becomes a politically mature society that does not fall prey to the classic tools used by rulers and politicians to sway the political persuasions of the majority.

With the elections just around the corner, I only hope that the Iranians of 2005 have learned from the Iranians of 1979. Instead of falling for the typical anti-America and anti-Israel speech that draws cheers from the crowds, Iranians should remain calm and not allow their leaders to draw their attention elsewhere. Iran has enough to worry about, let alone the problems of America and Israel. So why do Iranians love hearing those State of the Union addresses and Friday Tehran prayers that attack the US and Israel? Why do they not demand more from their leaders and question why Iran is in such bad shape?

As soon as Iranians realize that they're just like everyone else, Iran can make some progress. Once Iranians see they can easily fall victim to the political tricks used by their leaders, Iranians can demand a more mature political environment. But until then, Iranians will always follow the masses, find appeal in the most passionate voice rather than the most reasonable and succumb to the flawed will of the majority.

Mazi Bahadori is a fourth year student at the University of California, Berkeley, studying history. Born in Iran, raised in the US.

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