Iran: A Reflection -- Action Confessional


by sima

In response to "Iran, a reflection":

It’s good that the discussion has started on what action we could be taking now. I have too much experience to get all gung ho about organizing and that sort of thing. In my experience, “Iranian” and “organization” just don’t go together – which is good and bad. Bad, because a splintered body is not as strong as a consolidated one. But good, because it allows for a lot of genuine, flexible, and creative action. I guess I’m Iranian enough to secretly prefer the latter!

So let me get personal. I didn’t vote for Mousavi. I despise him and Rafsanjani every bit as much as I despise Ahmadinejad and Rahbar. I talked at length to my closest friends in Iran before the election. No, I’m not one to make pronouncements about Iranian People This and Iranian People That. I don’t know about Iranian People – I only had heart-to-heart talks with my old friends who are the doroun marzi version of me. They all voted for Mousavi. I have complete and utter respect for their reasoning and I am in awe of all those who took to the streets.

Here is another personal revelation: I read a lot of subversive stuff. I love conspiracy theories because even if they’re not entirely true they contain some truth somewhere in them. I believe that conspiracy theories arise not when we can’t find answers to our questions but when those questions are not asked. I think the ultimate form of censorship is not when answers are suppressed, but when questions are suppressed. I learned about this ultimate form of censorship in America. But I’ll write about that some other time, let’s go back to Iran.

A lot of the subversive stuff I read puts the events in Iran in a regional and global context. The caricaturized version of it would be something like this: Ahmadi and Rahbar are fighting the “full spectrum dominance” plans of US, UK and Israel – which is a good thing.The Rafsanjani coalition (Mousavi, Karroubi, and the moneyed class) lean toward “the West” which basically means privatization and the looting of the country – which is not a good thing. Given this world view, it would make sense for the US to be trying to meddle in who comes to power in Iran. There’s nothing “conspiracy theory” about the fact that countries have always tried to meddle in each others’ affairs and the recent elections in Iran are no exception.

Holding this perspective in my mind – in “brackets,” if you will – I was particularly turned off by the green cosmetic element of the Mousavi campaign. It reminded me too much of the “color” revolutions the US cooked up in Ukraine and Georgia, and indeed the velvet revolution the Islamic Republic is so afraid of. Now, not only do I not have an iota of trust in Mousavi who is responsible for a great deal of bloodshed back in the 80s, and not only do I deeply despise Rafsanjani and his ill-begotten wealth and empire, I also have great abhorrence for Washington DC think tanks and Madison Avenue PR firms and advertising agencies that design coups and fabricate “movements.” So I did not and will not display a speck of green on my person.

That said, what’s going on in Iran is a lot bigger than all of that. Green, Mousavi, Rafsanjani, Ahmaidnejad, Khamenei, “full spectrum dominance,” conspiracy theory, Washington DC, Madison Avenue, Hollywood – all of them be damned. This is you and I speaking. Let them tell us we don’t matter. Let them try to manipulate us. Let them try to “organize” us. Once we get going, we will bulldoze them over.

My neighbor came back last week from the Joan Baez concert in San Francisco where she sang We Shall Overcome dedicated to Iran (yawn) and handed me a nicely printed card announcing the July 25 “Mega-Rally.” Okey dokey – another slick piece of communication material with heavy use of the color green, produced by “United for Iran, Northern California Chapter: A non-politically affiliated group of individuals and organizations united in solidarity with Iran.” (“Oh really, non-affiliated…?!” goes the little voice in my head.) It states the sponsors of the event as Shirin Ebadi (good enough), Human Rights Watch (no comment), and a string of organizations many of which no one has ever heard of. Look people, I have a nonprofit that I registered over 10 years ago and it has heleko helek-ed along all these years but it never amounted to much even when I worked really hard at it, let alone now after years of dormancy. Suppose I put that down as a “sponsor” of something – how in the world would you know that even though the organization is a legal entity it basically is nothing but a collection of papers on the bottom shelf of my bookcase? And you don’t even need me to tell you that you can list all kinds of sponsoring organizations that don't even amount to that much!

OK, so you get the picture. I just don’t trust. I’ll say one more bad thing about this rally and then I’ll say the good I have to say.

On the front of the card advertising the rally there is a bit of fine print underneath a big old green arc: “We discourage the display of national flags. This policy is intended not to stifle freedom of expression but instead to prevent others from labeling us as a disingenuous political organization.” Wha, wha, wha, wha, what…? They are saying don’t bring the flag – the sabz, sorkh, sefid we grew up with. I know. I have followed the stupid and even vicious flag wars people have been fighting during recent demonstrations. I have been quite embarrassed by it. But it’s the old anti-organization tendency of Iranians. That simply is not going to go away. We will always fight our stupid wars the moment we are put anywhere together. Our dirty laundry always finds its way of airing itself with ancient pride. But this is who we are. I’m sorry that we are not capable of all putting our hands on our hearts at the sight of stars and stripes or rallying around a swastika. Win some, lose some. But what is this bullshit about “to prevent others from labeling us as a disingenuous political organization”? What the heck is this supposed to mean? Whose genius came up with that piece of lame wording? And as far as I'm concerned, no one has any business “discouraging” any Iranian from carrying any flag they want. Who do they think they are, our vali-ye faqih? What are they, shoraye maslehate nezam? Don't they get it that we are just sick of being patronized "for our own good" -- for some "maslehat"?

Now THAT said, I certainly am going to the rally. I am in fact grateful to whoever has organized it. Ross Mirkarimi (SF Supervisor) gives his name as contact person for the rally. I am grateful to him. We can be as irritatingly or charmingly chaotic as we want but somebody in the end has to do some organizational dirty work. I thank all those who are carrying out this thankless task. (Contact:, 415-554-6783)

And you know why in the end I am going to the rally? Because this is bigger than any single power, or interest, or ego, or ideology. This is the old lion raising its head. This is us. And we’ve waited thirty years for it.


more from sima

nicely written

by Jaleho on

No further comments lest the poor writer gets assassinated by assumed association :-)

Nazy Kaviani

Sima, Omid, Monda

by Nazy Kaviani on

Flag or no flag, green, red, or black, I'll find all of you at the rally and check out your flags, shirts, and ribbons. Omid, you'll be the one with fuzzy hair, glasses and blue face, right? Shouldn't be that hard to locate you among 25,000.

Sima, I never get tired of hearing your conspiracy theories and suspicious opinions! For more reasons than one, I believe you to be one in 70 million, nobody is quite like you daroon marz or boroon marz.



by Monda on

then how the heck do we find you in the rally??! 

Omid Hast

To be honest with you

by Omid Hast on

I don’t like green either.  I prefer blue.  Well, for one thing green is the color of the descendants of the Prophet Mohammad, which I am not one of them, and neither are millions of Iranians.  I read somewhere that millions of Iranians trace back their descendants to the Prophet.  I don’t remember what the exact number is, but that great number is supposed to be a mathematical impossibility, so it is an indicative of fraud, the same kind of fraud that seems to be perpetuated nowadays about the number of people who voted for Ahmadinejad.  But how many people are really sayid is a different argument, but never the less a conspiracy, the kind of thing that you seem to like.

I don’t like black, even though I look better in black than blue, I still prefer not to wear black.  Even though I hear in recent rallies people are encouraged to wear green or black, I don’t want to wear either one of those.  For one thing it is against my religion to wear black in public demonstrations.  Back then when I was an ideological atheist my favorite color was red.  The whole China was red, south Asia was red, and Russia was red, so were a bunch of countries in South America.  Red was in fashion, so to speak, but fashions come and go.  Then I reformed myself and became a non-ideological atheist, so the first thing I did was to renounce all things red. Red flag was out, red blood, red rose, gol’e sorkh, all of them went out the window, and red was replaced with blue, the color of ski, which is immense.  And, O yeah, no black in public demonstrations for me because it, through no fault of its own, is the color of death and sorrow.  I have too much sorrow already, so I don’t need to enhance it anymore with the kind of clothes I wear, specially in public where people can see it.

But, I agree with you, this thing is bigger than what I ultimately decide to wear for the event.


Very very cool, Monda

by sima on

A home-made flag with Free Iran written in the middle in black sharpie is the best. That's what I'll do too. Great idea.



by Monda on

i found some fabrics at thrift stores to make my own. 

Yes FREE IRAN in the middle for sure! 


See you there!

by Monda on

I'll be working on my flags! I am so glad you brought up the flag thing Sima! That and the whole "unpolitical" intent of this rally confused the hell out of me, when I first read the card. This Dutch friend of mine who saw the card on my fridge was baffled by the serene image of this rally. But she will come too:o) 


Definitely lioness, Solo!

by sima on

And the flag thing: If I actually owned one I would bring a tricolor with "Free Iran" in the middle.

Flying Solo


by Flying Solo on



Good piece.  When

by Anonymouse on

Good piece.  When you have respect for your friends in Iran who voted for Mousavi and understand this is bigger than any single individual interest, you are one of US (the Borg :-) Kidding!   

You know in Iran security forces throw tear gas to disperse people, here our own boroon marzi people disperse themselves by wanting to show their "free spirit" because they can do whatever they want because this is a free country unlike Iran.

I agree with the flag thing.  Since this is a hot button issue why bring it?  If you bring current flag they say burn that filth, if you bring lion and sun they say dead monarchy and if you bring US flag they say colonialism.  But since no one is listening to me, bring it on!  Bring more flags than a gay parade! 

Everything is sacred.