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Iranians lack respect and tolerance when faced with disagreement


Naz Ghassemian
March 26, 2007

A wise man once told me "it takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile." That man is Sting ('An Englishman in New York') and his wisdom is useful when I consider the actions and words of many Iranians who contacted me following what I wrote concerning '300.' [See: "Fiction doesn't deserve a petition"]

While I can hardly say I suffered because of ignorant things a few people said about my opinions and who I am because I have them, I think Iranians could have taken a note from our friend Sting when thinking about '300'. To see thousands of Iranians expecting historical accuracy from a graphic novel or a movie, especially when such projects are produced in an environment known for its exploitation of fantasy is quite silly.

Their demands are especially silly when I realize that these same Iranians are demanding respect for their opinion. Imagine if Hollywood shouted back that these Iranians ought to "Shut the f*ck up." That wouldn't be very nice, and I'm sure it would legitimize the demands of these Iranians.

However, no one on behalf of the movie reacted that way. But I'm disappointed to say that many Iranians did write to me and say such nasty things. I can't tell you all that I'm surprised, because when I look at most Iranians when they discuss the arts and/or politics, they tend to wind up shouting vulgarities. But isn't it a bit silly to demand respect when we ourselves are unable to tolerate the opinions of others?

One nitwit actually assumed that because I read comic books, I do not venture outside that genre. Hilarious. Another attempted to discredit me by alleging that I am either Israeli or mullah worshipper. I don't see what any of these has to do with respecting other people's opinions.

Another person told me that my opinion concerning this issue, if you may call it that, explains what he deems "the disaster of Iran."

I realize that my opinion is shared by a minority of Iranians. So that last dimwit who credits me with Iran's faults has hope, in addition to an army of people who agree with him. However, what he and others accused me of is slight in comparison to what some of you have written in the letters section.

Seeing that many Iranians think that American movie-goers are a bunch of cows makes for a new argument entirely. Many of you are judging with clear ignorance, the group that you claim to be ignorant about you! Ironic. Sad. Stupid.

Many of you claimed that because George W. Bush is the President of the United States, Americans are automatically stupid. If that logic prevails in other circles, no wonder some non-Iranians think less of us. Look at the leaders of Iran in the second half of the 20th century. The Shah told Oriana Fallaci that he was accompanied by visions and apparitions of Prophets since the age of six. His successor promised checks for all Iranians because of its status as an oil producing nation. I won't even bother to quote what either have gone on the record to say about women.

If there is something to be learned from all this, it has to be the lack of respect and tolerance Iranians have when they face disagreement. It is an unrealistic ideal to expect any group to agree. But to expect Iranians to agree is to wish that we could all be immortal and born kings. Except for Xerxes. Kidding!

If you think you are portrayed in '300' you are wrong. If you think that the ancient Persians are depicted negatively, you could be right and are entitled to think so. If you have behaved less than considerately to those who disagree with you, then you have no right to complain or demand respect or tolerance, since you are unable to give it in the first place. Comment

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Naz Ghassemian




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