Sunday, June 21, 2009

What Lessons Not To Learn From Iran

Between the increasing horror in the streets and the clampdown on broadcast media, trying to make heads or tails of the post-"election" chaos in Iran is no mean feat. Needless to say, there've been a lot of bunk conclusions drawn and errant dots connected, so let's take a moment to cut the crap out of the discourse.

Myth: Islam and Democracy are incompatible
This is an understandable fear, given that the line in the sand appears to pit democracy squarely against conservative Shi'ites. Moussavi himself has expressed concern that his nation's faith may be fundamentally antipathetic to democracy. Obviously, Islam is not the enemy of democracy: conservative Islam is the enemy of democracy, much in the same way that any intransigent orthodoxy is the enemy of democracy. No matter which monotheistic mania, putting anyone with an unshakable belief in a supreme being in charge of a country is a bad bloody idea, to which the United States is a living testament. Let's also not forget how prominent strident nationalism is amongst Ahmadinejad's rhetoric and supporters. Nationalism, fascism, capitalism (including state capitalism), religious fundamentalism - pick your -ism and odds are it ain't particularly nonsectarian.

Uh, yeah, well - we did that already, remember? And look what it got us last time: twenty-six years of a garish & irresponsible puppet dictator who was dramatically deposed by the original Mr. Fire-And-Brimstone-Upon-America, Ayatollah Khomeini, whose ascent readied the US (to one extent or another) for the rise of Khomeini's Occidental doppelganger Ronald Reagan (and we know how that worked out). Leaving the fate of Iran in the hands of its own people - whether they're clutching ballots or Molotov cocktails - at least allows the country a chance of escaping either an appointed despot or clerical strongman.

Lousy Analogy: Iranians and Republicans in a photo finish at the Oppression Olympics
Are we fucking joking. Speaking of learning the wrong lesson, apparently Republicans have decided that they lost the last election not because they're cryptofascistic spooks, but because they aren't millenarian/imperialist/batshit enough: aside from attempting to resurrect the ol' Cold War standby of Socialist boogeyman and whipping neo-Nazis into a bloodlustful froth, the Republicans are comparing their minority status to being disenfranchised, clubbed, tear-gassed, and shot by Ahmadinejad's thugs. Jon Stewart extended the analogy to its logical conclusion:
And I wonder if the lack of choice in the congressional cafeteria isn't just a little bit like Auschwitz.
But hey, to be fair, perhaps this is actually a kind of political performance art, a metapolitically ironic gesture on the part of the Republicans that manages to both undermine a Democratically elected leader at home, while bolstering a tyrannical theocracy abroad. That'd be heavy, bro.

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